Moved into my abode on Friday night which was a HUGE relief. Unpacked my suitcase and scattered my things around the flat in true territorial pissings fashion. TV here is not bad actually. Obviously you have 60+ Chinese channels but most expats have satellite TV with BBC, CNN etc live and direct from the Philippines so no PRC lockdown as and when they see fit. Saturday morning I had to work. Around 11am I took the very busy metro from the Peoples Square to the National Stadium area so I could worship and give thanks to the god IKEA. God bless The Swiss. I had a brisk walk along a torturous busy road where not one driver observes the rules which is dandy unless you are crossing a busy six lane highway like I had to. In China there is no correlation between size of road and pedestrian use. As long as you can get a footpath next to it its all fair game. I was in a local area of that I was sure. IKEA Shanghai is like IKEA Hong Kong which is like IKEA Thurrock Lakeside i.e. They are all the same. Apart from the food. The Shanghai branch had some every dubious Herring and weird sandwiches at the entrance rather than the hotdogs at the end. Of course, it being a Saturday, the place was awash with people. Local people with only a few glimmers of ‘western people’ here and there. One thing I noticed is that once some of the Chinese have clocked me they the immediately look a my trolley as to what I was buying. Why? I haven’t got a fucking clue.

My trolley fit to bursting I paid all the time being accosted by dubious fellows saying ‘Ta-She…Ta-She…” which is their approximation of Taxi. I waved them away until I got outside. I was miles away from the usual Taxis whizzing up and down the highway and anyone familiar with IKEA knows they have these annoying fucking bollards that stop you pushing your trolley to the car park. Stuck with a full trolley I was surrounded and attacked by wails of Ta-She Ta-She. Powerless to resist I bartered down the cost back to my PuDong hideout. I gingerly loaded up the Taxi with my homewares awaiting to be stabbed or mugged and robbed. I should have known better as the driver whisked me home quickly for the price we agreed. Then, dropping off my treasures I had a quick jaunt to Brands Mall which is 5 minutes by taxi from my home and next to the Pearl Tower. I was hoping against hope that was going to be a supermarket here as I had zero food in the house. There was an H&M, Muji, a Next (!) and billions of restaurants and there in the basement, a Lotus Supermarket of the Tesco Lotus brand I know and love in Thailand. Not bad but no great shakes. Things are cheap apart from pesto.45 Yuan for one jar. Thats around 4 English pounds. I got some pre-shaved Parmesan Cheese which was in a white tray with cling film on the top. Minuscule fragments of Italian Cheese for 15 Yuan. Rice, Dim Sum and milk and tea and bread all purchased I got another Taxi home. My apartment comes equipped with a gym so I thought I would go for a quick evening run to burn off the past two weeks junk food and stress. Alas, my high tech electronic lock closed shut. My keys inside. It has a thumb print reader (as you do) but I had not registered my thumb on the reader yet. I had my electronic card bt that was no use my keys were inside. Oh, yes, my apartment has two things for me to lose – the door key and an electronic card. The electronic card opens the lobby door allowing you into the lift. You then have to wave the card over a reader in the lift to access your floor. Oh, and you wave your card over your mailbox to get access. Over the top but it does keep the unwashed out I guess but are they that bad? At least it feels secure. Anyway I was locked out in my shorts and running shoes and thus commenced a three hour ordeal of explaining to around 20 people the what had happened (none of whom spoke English). They drilled my lock and by 11pm I was back indoors. I was asleep by 11:01pm.

Sunday I awoke at 10am to the sound of the guy finishing changing my lock and furnishing me with three new keys. He also registered my thumb print so no more lost keys I hope. I then went to the police station to register myself. A Chinese Police station is a lovely place full of hard faced and unsmiling coppers who scare the daylights out of me. I dread to think what they are capable of and China is one place I will not get locked up in. The mere thought is terrifying. A Chinese prison? No thanks. I took all my forms with me so I could get a pink slip that proves I have registered with the filth and my visa can be processed. I forgot one form so had to go back home and get my landlords ID card. Of course, I should have known. For a second time I entered the police station via an alleyway full of the foulest, putrid smell know to man. Again, I had all the forms but no COPIES of the forms! So off I went again and managed to negotiate the local streets and find a photocopying place. Take 3 and this time I left the Police with a pink form in my hand. It took hours with all the coming and goings but I got it. Tomorrow I am in more visa hell as I go, in person to process my work permit with a colleague. I hope that will be more straightforward.

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