You want frustration?

Here I am trying to spend money and I can’t. I want to purchase Adobe’s PhotoShop program so that I can do some work. It will cost me $300 as opposed to $700 because Terry gets an educational discount. Good deal, right? After problems last week too lengthy to detail here, I started this morning at 7:15. I went online and ordered it, but at the end of the process, it said the order didn’t go through because of problems with my credit card – which is interesting since I used PayPal and not a card.

The message said to call their direct sales department. Now, since I am in China I don’t wish to use my cell phone so Skype to the rescue. I started my first call at 7:37. It lasted 44 seconds before it was dropped off the internet. I won’t bore you with the details of all 9 calls (in the 81 minutes I was trying to get through, I was on the phone for 55:40) which ranged from 37 seconds to 10 minutes, 10 seconds before they were dropped. In two of those calls, I actually talked to a real person, as opposed to being on hold, and both of them took my call back number. I told them it was a cell phone in China and that I was calling on Skype, but there didn’t seem to be a problem. The second fellow (no judgement here, but both had thick  Indian accents) said that they had a heavy backlog of call back calls to make. How does that work – if you are on a call and it gets disconnected, don’t you just dial the number they gave you? Anyway, he says it can take up to 45 minutes. Here I sit 1 1/2 hours after the first guy said he would call and still no ringy-dingy.

There is no other way to get in touch with the sales people, either. You can have a live online chat with a service rep, but they can’t sell you anything! AAAAAAHHHHHH!

Terry’s New Favourite (at least in China)

On the other hand, I was planning on staying home today since we are having wine delivered. I don’t know if Terry has mentioned it, but we generally buy our wine a case at a time (6 red, 6 white) at Auchon (our favourite Jiaxing grocery store, which is on the other side of town) and then have to pack it out to the street, hail a taxi, then carry it half a block or so into our complex, and up to the 9th floor. It hasn’t been a big problem but the last two times we went, they weren’t carrying Terry’s favourite wine (Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc). At least it is her favourite of the ones we have found in Jiaxing. So yesterday morning I went online and found ASC Fine Wines. They deliver for free from Shanghai to your door if you order more that $160 worth. One case of Terry’s covers that so I think we have found our new source. And they have a selection of 87 reds and whites for under $25 (150 yuan). (Hey Gary and Cindy, Paul and Ingrid, Dan and Pat, if you have some to kill, take a look at their site and make some recommendations to us. I’ll even go up to 180 yuan which is $30)

We tend to forget that they deliver everything in China at basically no cost – wine, beds, water, furniture. Bizarrely, we paid 20 yuan for a 110 yuan plant to be delivered.

I don’t know if you read the article in Friday’s Sun about the 18th Chinese Congress. Here is a taste:

Don’t roll down the taxi windows. Don’t buy a remote-controlled plane without a police chief’s permission. And don’t release your pigeons. Beijing is tightening security as its all-important Communist party congress approaches, and some of the measures seem downright bizarre. Kitchen knives and pencil sharpeners reportedly have been pulled from store shelves, and there’s even a rumour that authorities are on the lookout for seditious messages on ping-pong balls. (Thanks for pointing it out Mal).

I bring this up only so that I could show the next photo and thus have a smooth segue into my next topic.

Those darn kitchen knives can be darn dangerous in the wrong darn hands.

Yesterday we got to school and our friend David immediately rushed into the office to tell us that Mr. Zhao had asked that “two foreign teachers” attend a party at 10:00 am at the Jiaxing International Theatre. The last party we went to was a big luncheon, so we figured what the heck – even if it was pretty short notice – it being 7:30 already. Anyway, at 9:45 off we go. We were a little late to arrive, but were graciously led to 3rd row seats. As we looked around, there didn’t seem to be too many other “foreigners” and everyone was taking good looks at us. I guess they thought we were important. It turned out that the party was to celebrate the opening of The 6th Jiaxing (China) International Cartoon Biennale & the 1st Cartoon Festival.

The 6th Jiaxing (China) International Cartoon Biennale & the 1st Cartoon Festival Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

We were treated to the usual numerous speeches in Chinese and one speech in Bulgarian as Jiaxing and Gabrovo, Bulgaria became sister cities. Who knew Jiaxing or Gabrovo were even looking for a sister city? That’s the vice-mayor of Gabrovo, third male from the right, on the stage. During the 35 minute ceremony (thank God it was a wonderfully warm, sunny day to sit outside) we were extensively photographed by a photo-journalist. Apparently they are trying to develop an entire cartoon industry in Jiaxing. (Maybe they thought we were the money people?)

I think this is to indicate a rapidly increasing water shortage.

After the speeches we went inside to view the exhibit, which displayed the work of various artists from around the world (including Canada and Bulgaria) and was on the theme of pollution. Here is one example of the the theme. (Not sure how the kitchen knives made the cut.) While we wandered around many other photographers were taking our pictures. Really. It was like having the paparazzi in your face. The show was quite an interesting exhibit, but I think Terry and David felt guilty about being away from the school, and, realizing there was no food on offer, they wanted to rush back – which we did, immediately after going for lunch at a fast food Chinese buffet restaurant. We aren’t exactly sure why they wanted foreign teachers at the ceremony, or if the invitation was misinterpreted, but it was another interesting cultural experience.
(Ed. note: here it is 11:00 and still no call back… and no wine (or Starbucks) yet, either.)

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