Today I learned that the word "driver" is an understatement. This person, who officially is not even our driver yet, will no doubt become one essential link to normal life here. Today she came along to help me get a SIM card for my phone. I say "help", but really all I did was ask a few questions in English and in the end put down a package of Yuan notes. Ms. G., however, filled out an overwhelming amount of paperwork -- all in Chinese of course-- and also used her own ID to justify the card, as my passport is with the Ministry of Finance to get a visa.
Another discovery was that to pay for the service, you actually have to go a China mobile office every month and pay the bill in person. Apparently, however, Ms. G. can also do this for me now, at the same time she pays her own bill. It's so nice to be taken care of -- it kind of extends this kind of Disneyland feeling I am already getting at this place. :-)
I am not sure why the phone bill has to be paid in person and if there is another
option, but in just a few interactions these last few days, I have noticed that banks are not really seen as a helpful institutions. Or at least using them to transfer money is apparently just difficult or a waste of time. For the things we are buying, we just pay with cash. Tomorrow for example, I'll be waiting at our new house with a pocket full of cash to pay for some furniture that will be delivered. In a way it makes things easy of course, no need to figure out how to do a transfer. Plus, you kind of feel really wealthy, with so many Yuans in your pocket (1000 Yuan is about 147 U.S. Dollars or 113 Euro, so it doesn't take that much to get a nice stash.)
Saturday we move into our house. I requested a phone and Internet line, but if that doesn't work out, this blog might grow silent for a few days!