December 15, 2002

What am I doing here?

Friends …eh..”

The official at the embassy was suspicious. It was supposed to be a simple matter. I needed more pages on my passport. All I had to do was to fill a form and submit it. It turned out that I had to go through an interview first. I was led into a room with a round table in the centre and asked to wait. A few minutes later a rather serious looking official came in and sat facing me. Without any introductions, he asked for my passport. He leafed through the pages. He was interested in knowing what I was doing in China. I told him I was visiting friends. Next, he wanted to know who my friends were. I told him about my friends - little Lynn from Guangzhou, scam Nick and Gaojing from Shanghai, and some other people I met on the trains in my travels. Perhaps satisfied that my friends were not from the Chinese secret service, he turned friendly and authorised my new passport.

Earlier, I needed some photos for the new passport. I wanted to get a shave before getting the photos. I hunted around but I could not find a barbershop. The embassy was in a complex with several apartment blocks. I saw a shop that looked like a beauty salon. The girl opened the door and asked me if she can help me in some way. I replied that I needed a shave and it is all right as they are a shop for girls. The girl grabbed me and placed me on a seat. She got a kid to run somewhere and fetch shaving foam. After applying the foam, she held a naked safety blade between her thumb and finger and proceeded to shave me. In China, no one says no to business.

Passport in China

My passport featuring my clean-shaven chin.

A more recent shaving adventure in Saigon. 

China Travel

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