Here's my joke:
They call it "red-tape" because the Communists do it the best.
...or the most.
I'm not good at jokes.
Living in a communist country has really introduced me to a depth of layers of bureaucratic B.S. that I would never have believed existed.
We spent more than 2 hours this afternoon at our local police station to get a document that it turns out none of the staff there knew how to do!
TWO HOURS! We never did get the document. Brett was livid. Now we have to go back tomorrow armed with a Chinese-speaking friend, and another friend's phone number, who knows people higher up at this office and can perhaps get something done.
When you move to China, you have to register with your local police bureau - very local, like just a few blocks - and they will issue a residency permit. If we stay anywhere else we are to register there until we go home. Staying at a hotel is not a problem, because most hotels have an officer who handles this kind of thing.
We recently read that when you move from your district, you should go to that same office to get a - well, basically a criminal background check. An official letter that says that you haven't committed any crimes while living here. That is all we were trying to get. We had the name of the document in English and Chinese to show to the clerk. I noticed that she seemed somewhat baffled, but they collected our passports and started working.
Other people came and went, and 2 hours later we were called up to get ... new residency permits! Which we didn't need because ours are still valid.
This is a very Chinese thing. They don't want to admit they can't do something so they will do what they can. Even if it is the wrong thing and wastes your afternoon for a pointless new piece of paper.
I love traveling. I love living in different countries. I think visiting is great, but by actually residing in a new culture, you really learn about them and yourself.
But seriously, people.