Tsinghua University’s Jin Chun Yuan Guest House

Many universities, in particular German universities, have long dropped their guesthouses and hotels. Or if they have kept them, they have become unbearable, at least those that I have had the misfortune of staying at. Not so in Asia, it seems, where I have repeatedly seen University-maintained hotels of enjoyable standards. Tsinghua University, the top Chinese engineering university, and my current host, falls into this category. Below please find some photos from the Jin Chun Yuan hotel to give you an impression (the other one, Jia Suo, is of equal quality).

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Pre-paid SIM Card in China?

Wheels down PEK, and it is the same story every time. I check my cell phone only to see that my old China Mobile SIM card, pre-paid, has run out. I find a dealer who sells me a new one, and it takes him like 30min to get it going. A flury of text messages and calls to the service hotline. I got a new card now, supposedly the successor to my expired M-Zone card from China Mobile, but I wonderer whether there aren’t any better solutions? I need voice and data (as much and as fast as possible), for a limited time, no international calls, and I would like it pre-paid, no plans attached. I’d appreciate any suggestion!

This is Frankfurt. We don’t serve Bavarians here.

I was at the Chinese consulate in Frankfurt and had just asked for a same-day visa to China, which is advertised on the embassy’s website for EUR 120. The clerk had just said to me: “This is Frankfurt; we don’t serve Bavarians here.” Apparently, I was at the wrong consulate, and the clerk was trying to send me to Munich. I had a meeting in town and after that was off to Berlin from which I have a flight to Beijing on Saturday to teach an Agile Methods class at Tsinghua University. Mind you that I previously had received Chinese visas in Berlin and Munich without problems. But apparently, Frankfurt is different. To cut a long story short, it took me three hours to make my way to the consul who granted an exception. I understand that exceptions should be hard to cause, otherwise everyone else would be asking for them. I don’t understand, though, why they wouldn’t want to give me the visa in the first place.

If you’ve read so far, you are probably interested in getting a China visa in Germany. While waiting, I talked with some professionals, who provide this service for a fee. Obviously, go to the place that’s logically closest to your home or fake your home address. Also, if you are from Nuremberg, don’t argue that Franconia is not the same as Bavaria, haha. (Nor should you point out that you grew up somewhere totally else.) Finally, Frankfurt, unlike other consulates, actually does not offer one-day visas, only two-day visas.

I had an invitation letter and a prior one-year multiple-entry visa to China that had just expired, and just to show me who is boss, the consul gave me a three-month double-entry visa only this time. Which means I’ll be back to get another visa in no time. Just not the Frankfurt consulate, I’ve learned that much.