The Time We Went to the Chinese Consulate

It was just about a year ago that I was sitting on my old front porch on Oliver Ave, on my second (or sixth?) glass of wine, that I said to Ginge, “So, do you want to go to China?”
He answered with a simple, “Ok,” which nearly made me fall off my chair (or maybe that was the wine).
See, I had gotten a really amazing Travel Zoo deal in my email inbox a few days before, for a 10-night trip to China, including airfare, meals and a 4-night river cruise, which I had forwarded to Ginge with no response. When I heard, “ok” come out of his mouth I immediately jumped up and told him to give me his credit card and passport. He obliged (also having indulged in a few beverages that evening). I got to work, booking two travel packages, and we set the trip date for the following April… almost a year away.

“Almost a year away” is basically here now, and we procrastinated a bit applying for our travel visas. Last week I realized we really needed to get on it, factoring in processing and mailing time, so I got my passport pictures taken, finished my application, nagged Ginge a bit to get his done, and then looked for a mailing address.

There was no mailing address. You apparently need to submit visa applications IN PERSON, at a Chinese Consulate office. The closest one to us happens to be in Los Angeles, and the office is conveniently open from 9am to 4pm, which didn’t really give us a great window of time to work with. We realized we’re cutting it close, now that we’re leaving in 3 weeks, so we sucked it up and made the trip up to LA yesterday.

LA is geographically not that far away… but mix in normal SoCal traffic, plus the blessing of ever-so-rare complete RAIN STORM, and we drove for over three hours to make it to the office on time. We stopped in the ghetto of Chinatown to get Ginge’s passport pictures taken, and finally made our way to a large office building. We gathered all of our documents and photos, got in the elevator, and right before the door opened to the third floor I said, “I have a really bad feeling we’re forgetting something. I just feel like they’re going to tell us we’re missing something.”

They didn’t tell us we were missing something. They didn’t tell us we were missing something, because we arrived at the office door, and it was CLOSED… with a sign on the front stating the hours from 9am- 2pm. It was 3:10. I looked at Ginge, he looked at me. There were no words exchanged. I wasn’t sure, but there may have been steam coming out of his ears. I didn’t give up yet. This couldn’t be right. I had read on the website 4pm. I was sure of it! I saw people coming out of a door down the hall which was connected to the same office, and I scurried down there. I waited for someone to come out and I piggy-backed and shoved my way in as Ginge stood staring at me going “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I was getting in, that’s what I was doing. Well, I was getting in, until a large dark man in a security outfit caught me entering through the exit door and promptly stopped me in my tracks, blocking the hallway with his extra large body.

My begging and pleading and straight up charm was just not cutting it. The security guard informed me all the windows were closed and locked. I asked if he could see if someone could just make an exception and he said there was no way. All of the machines were shut down. “Butttt we just drove over three hours to get here! And your website says 4pm!”

“The website does not say 4pm.”

Ugh. We (I) finally gave up in defeat and started walking away. Ginge didn’t say anything. I was wondering if he was waiting ’til we got outside to fly off the handle. I processed the fact that we just drove for over three hours to get nothing accomplished. Also, I processed the fact that at this time it would take about five hours to turn around and go back home.

“Are you mad at me?”

“No. Let’s find a happy hour spot.”

What the……… At this point I really didn’t want to check the website. I knew in my head I had read 4pm, and I told Ginge that. I also tried to blame it on him for not double- checking himself, but realized I was encouraging him to not trust my reading comprehension skills, so I decided to just blame the Chinese Consulate for not posting correct information. As we’re driving out of Chinatown looking for the first non-ghetto neighborhood with a good happy hour, I couldn’t help myself. I pulled up the Chinese Consulate Visa and Passport Office Website to check the hours.

There it read… Office hours: 9:00 am—14:00 pm

WHAT THE FLYING F***LFSJKDLFKJ:…. WHO PUTS OFFICE HOURS IN MILITARY TIME!

“Ginge LOOK! You can barely even see the number 1!!!! This is SO not my fault!”

“You can definitely see the number 1, and this is 100% your fault.”

I’m still holding on to the fact that this is not.my.fault. We were planning on driving back to San Diego after dinner, but due to the events of the day, we decided to make a night of it. Our first stop was a place in West Hollywood with two-for-one deals, and a female professional football player slash musician as our bartender. It was just the two of us in the whole place, plus a cute young male gay couple, who promptly moved their bar stools so we could all touch shoulders, and we drank our sorrows away with a few cocktails, while being serenaded by the large woman with the guitar and an amazing raspy singing voice. In between songs, she would break to refill our drinks, and listen to the young guys next to us cry (literally) over their last breakups, and tell her how fabulous she was.

Our new friend, Kyle asked the bartender, “So are you gay?”

She stared at him for a second and said… “Ummmm… yeah I’m gay- I’m wearing a leather jacket.”

I looked down, held my leather arms out over the bar and exclaimed…”Well… wait….”

The bartender put her head down and laughed for about two minutes and then admitted that straight girls can wear leather as well.

After a couple of drinks and a huge, fresh, steaming hot bag full of un-touched, delicious Greek food handed over the railing to us by a business man who said he ordered too much, we said goodbye to our new friends (after exchanging numbers with the one who lives 3 blocks from us in our Gayborhood), we headed to Hermosa Beach for a random concert we somehow finagled our way into for free, not knowing it was an actual concert. We called my sister to see if she could feed and let the dog out (she could… #blessed), found a hotel, slept in the clothes we were wearing, then woke up and drove home in the clothes we were still wearing.

So here we sit, three weeks from out departure to China, with our passports and visa applications still in hand. We’ll have to try that again. What did I learn from this experience? I’m not sure. Military time is confusing.

Until next time… xoxo

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