January 14 广州
I’m not going to rehash our entire trip but merely the petitioning process. The consulate requires that the petitioner, yours truly, submits the necessary paperwork to begin the DCF process for the beneficiary, in our case ZJ. The document intake officer complemented me on my preparedness, as I did what’s called front loading, where I hand them as many documents as I possibly could upfront to avoid overloading ZJ come interview time.
March 31 西安－广州
Our flight was delayed due to stormy weather in GZ, and when we finally did arrive, Irina and Alex were there, ready to whisk us off to the Oakwood, where Alex lives.
April 1 广州日1
We went for ZJ’s medical exam. We took a taxi, and realized the medical exam’s office the consulate sent us to lies adjacent to the American Consulate. We arrived quite early, making ZJ the third person to register. He had to change into blue fleece pajamas, whereas female patients wore pink fleece pajamas. After having his first vaccinations ever, we went back to the Oakwood some time after 10 a.m., having spent about four hours there. We headed out to lunch with Irina, a former student-turned friend who calls Guangzhou home, after food shopping. We were instructed to return around 3 p.m. for the exam’s results, ending up waiting at least two more hours. Irina and Alex took us to their local all-you-can-eat teppanyaki and sushi haunt, and Alex treated us.
April 2 广州日2
We spent most of the day indoors at the Oakwood except for lunch and dinner. Lunch consisted of 快餐 and we dined at Xingmeile Cafe, serving up western fare, in the Taiku Mall during the evening.
April 3 广州日3－深圳
We got up insanely early and headed to the consulate by taxi. I had ironed ZJ’s shirt and pants the day before while we sat out the rain at the Oakwood. We waited about an hour a half at the consulate gate, not wanting to budge from our position as people, only some waving around papers with their printed appointment time, swarmed the gate. You are not allowed in before your appointment time, hence the pushiness. We finally entered and joined the security queue at 8:45. ZJ finally passed through security around 9:15. I stood outside of security with another American waiting for his wife. It felt like hours passed, but actually ZJ exited around 10:45.
The whole procedure as explained by ZJ:
First, he received a number after passing through security, proceeding then to document intake once his number was called. They collected the various required documents and asked for our notarized white book, aka notarized marriage certificates as well as when we planned to travel to the US. He waited around some more before being interviewed by a female Visa Officer. They spoke mostly in Chinese, with English peppered a bit throughout the conversation. She asked about ZJ’s proposal, our Chinese ceremony, my mother who served as the joint sponsor, how we met, and who came to our wedding from the US. When ZJ told her he had photos, she declined, saying she believed him and didn’t need to see any further evidence. He didn’t pass however, and instead was given two slips, a white and pink, that instructed us to send additional documents to the consulate within one year. We were very nervous about this but it actually turned out to be fairly straightforward and only held up our processing for two or three weeks. We eventually, after checking the relevant site, could breathe easy as ZJ’s visa had been issued. We received his passport with his newly printed visa a week or so later.
After the interview, we stumbled upon the Arte Cafe, owned in part by Guangzhou 广州恒大’s Italian football coach. We then met up with Irina and said our goodbyes before heading back to the Oakwood to recuperate and pack up. We took the D train to Shenzhen, arriving at the hotel less than an hour later. The hotel could aptly be described as 土豪, nouveau riche. We meandered down a street adjacent to the hotel, stumbling upon a dumplings joint.
April 4 深圳
The continental breakfast, included in the 团购, a Groupon-like service, only allowed one guest to dine. We then spent most of the day wandering, trying to find lunch, after walking through Shenzhen University, 深圳大学. The university had lots of lovely foliage, in stark contrast to XISU’s old and new campuses. We ventured to Mangrove Park, 红树林, great as it overlooks the bay shared with Hong Kong, and we could make out HK in the distance, even through the haze. The wind started picking up and we opted to find an indoor location we could plop down and rest our weary feet. Crossing the underground footbridge, we happened upon a convention center with a Starbucks. Although I’d like to refrain from using vulgar terminology here, trying to find the appropriate bus to the Windows of the World proved to be a clusterf***. Ultimately a well-informed bus patron assisted and the bus we caught only required two stops. We walked back and forth trying to find where to pick up our 团购-purchased tickets. After entering the Windows of the World, I guess you could call it a theme park, an amphitheater greeted us, and a show entranced most of the guests. We had very little interest in sitting through a very staged performance, and so roamed around the dark, desolate, and scary park. We walked through most of the park, visiting all the vast corners of the world, all miniature replicas, from the White House to the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, and Big Ben to just name a few.
April 5 深圳日2－西安
I got up around 8:30 in order to take advantage of the continental breakfast, alone. We then stayed in the room until checkout, finally taking the Metro to the airport, hanging out in Starbucks, where I caught up on some blogging, we watched a film and chatted.