Adventures in China’s DMV

Recently I have started the process to get my Chinese driver’s licence, as they will not recognize my Canadian one without properly registering it in the system, and my doing the written test. This is the story of my journey (so far) for my Chinese licence. I am going to whine, I am going to cry about annoyances which are not really problems, and then in the end I will dust myself off, take hold of my pride, and move on to greener pastures. When I do finally get my driver’s licence, I will post a list of the actual requirements in a simple, easy to read blog post so you can know what you need for one, at least in Jiangsu Province.

*This was published before, I meant to take down a different post, but I took this one down instead because I didn’t look closely enough*
My quest started with a simple wish, to drive again. I love to drive, I miss driving. I have driven most of North America several times, I have driven in the Middle East as well (UAE, Qatar, Oman), hundreds of thousands of kilometres (close to a million in I count right). Now, it is time to add China to the list. I don’t plan on buying a car here yet, but I would like to be able to rent a car, and take off on a road trip every now and then.
My girlfriend is helping me with this process as I don’t speak Chinese.
Step 1: We called the local police department here in my small town. The response, it didn’t thrill us, “You must go to the big city (2 hours away by bus) to get this done. We don’t know how to do it here.” This was not surprising.
Step 2: Call the police station in the big city to find out what we needed. Many attempts later, over a span of several days, we determined one thing, they don’t like to answer the phone.
*Sigh*
Step 3: Take a Saturday, and go to the city to find out what I need in order to get my licence. Last Saturday we took the bus to the city. We arrived at the police station, and there were only 2 officers on duty. Xiu Xiu talked to one of the officers, and told her the story of what I wanted to do. She asked what we needed to bring the next time we came back from our town.
It is important to note, the officer was clearly told we didn’t live in the city
We were told, “You need to bring your licence from Canada, a translation of the licence with a stamp from a recognized translation company, passport, and residency permit.”
I am sure Xiu Xiu was getting annoyed with me, but I had to re-ask about the list 5 times, to be sure it was absolutely everything we required, it seemed to simple. The cop said, “That’s it.”
Step 4: Thursday’s classes were cancelled because of the monthly exam, so we decided to use the free day to go drop the papers off to the police. We had a translation done, and stamped, so we put everything together, and off we went to waste the day.
We walked into the police station, and put our papers down in front of the officer in charge of these things. He asked a couple of questions about my Canadian licence, and then tossed the papers on the counter flippantly. You don’t have a paper from the police stating you live in the town. Xiu Xiu jumped into action, “We were told we only needed the residency permit in his passport, nothing about the paper from the police.”
I was left in the dark up to this point, because the conversation since the papers were tossed was all in Chinese. I knew there was a problem, I just didn’t know what the problem was. 
The man said in a “get out of my face” tone, “I didn’t tell you this, it isn’t my problem.”
Well, actually is a problem you should address… An officer at this station is giving out incomplete information as though it were complete, even though she was asked 5 times about it she would not check any sources to back up the information . If she can’t find the information, say it. If she doesn’t know the information, say, “I don’t know.” It may not have come out of your mouth, but it did come out of your precinct.
Xiu Xiu didn’t budge, and her tone changed. After another 10 seconds of arguing for an eternity, another officer was brought in on the matter. She said the same thing, “It wasn’t us who told you that, what do you expect us to do about your mistake.”
At this point I reconfirmed the information we had been given on Saturday. Xiu Xiu wrote it down in my phone (in Chinese). She read it, and we were correct in what we were told.
Now, my blood is boiling. I want to start poking things with my finger to make my point ever more clear. I wanted to talk like William Shatner, and overemphasis each word, to. make. my. point. very. clear. Instead, I am left mute, nothing I can add to the conversation, unless I want to go with, “idiot, table, watch, a number,” or, “you bully me.”
Not an exhaustive list, but the gist of my Chinese ability.
Instead, I looked on in horror, knowing this trip, and the cost of going to the city was wasted, as was my surprise day of rest from school.
The man eventually agreed to look over what we brought, to be sure nothing else was missing. This was done at the request of the slightly less abrasive woman who entered the conversation second. He thumbed through everything with contempt, tossed it once again on the counter, and declared, “Yah, get the form, and it looks good.”
We were sent on our way. Both of us in a quiet uproar, privately between ourselves. I mockingly quoted the woman from Saturday, “Oh, I know you asked a thousand times, I assure you this is all you need, 4 things. I of course am not going to tell you about the 5th thing, because I’m a jackass.” Then I corrected myself, “Sorry, because I’m too proud to look up the requirements, I’ll just spout off what I think I know as though it is gospel truth.”
We ranted to each other, and Xiu Xiu to the cab driver, as we began our expensive ride back to the town centre, and after a good meal, and an overpriced Starbucks visit, we caught a bus home.
I know this is small potatoes. I know it is not the end of the world to travel to the city on a bus just to be told someone didn’t give you the right information, even though you repeatedly gave them a chance to change their story. I know life goes on still, and soon I will have my driver’s licence. I know, I know, I know.
I fully expect to return to the city next Friday (or the following Monday, because there is no school at least one of those days), and be told we were once again given the wrong information. I fully expect to do this trip 3 times before it is complete. I also am quite sure each time, I will want to poke something, or someone, very hard to make a point about giving the wrong information. I am quite sure I will rant, and rave to Xiu Xiu about it for 15 minutes after it happens, and then I will find my blood returning from boiling to body temperature. These are the things I expect.
This is not a China thing, this is not an America thing, Canada, Europe, or any other specific location. People will inevitably give you the wrong information, and waste your time. They may waste a few minutes, or the may waste much more. As much as you want to spit, cuss, swear, curse, and poke, just shake it off, and keep on moving.
On the bright side, my day included real(ish) donuts.
Coming next week, Step 5. Hopefully it will only be 6 steps to getting my licence (if I pass my test on the first go round). If given the proper information, it appears it will be simple enough.
*This was published before, I meant to take down a different post, but I took this one down instead because I didn’t look closely enough*
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