Hanoi

Last few days in China were a hectic attempt to get everything in order. The main problem was that every time we thought we have everything figured out, another problem reared its head.

First, it was my passport which was held with the Chinese authorities until the very last moment. Then,  understanding my last salary isn’t going to come into my account until… well until now. After that, we learned that RMB is not that easy to convert to USD and feared that will be a problem (turns out it really wasn’t. Not for small amounts at least) It was all quite stressful.

It wasn’t all bad, to be honest. Had a few goodbye events, all were really good. It’s sad to make friends and them leave them behind. It’s a very old story for any expat though. A veritable cornerstone of the lifestyle.

We are now in Hanoi. We’ve been here since yesterday morning and have been walking about, not too impressed. Maybe it’s the sticky weather, or maybe just that we are tired. We should have started all this Asian wandering roasting on a beach, moving for no one but the pineapple salesperson. Travelling is a learning experience, we are bound to get the hang of it as we go along. We’ll just have to wait and see. Next destination: Sapa.

A major annoyance

China visa issues can be difficult to handle; language sometimes being a hurdle to overcome. But I had no idea going out could be as troublesome as coming in!

Having given my resignation 3 months in advance, I assumed no bureaucracy could be slow enough to cause problems delaying my departure. Least of all did I expect the problems to be caused by HP. Boy was I surprised.

The HP termination process starts one month prior to the leaving date. And indeed, one month prior to the due date I received an email with a checklist of items for me to go over. Nothing out of the ordinary: give your PC and access cards back and tell the union you are no more. I was told nothing has to be done until my last day. Oh, by the way, the document is mainly in Chinese, so I kind of had to accept what information I got.

Last weekend, I revisited the list and made further inquiries to make sure I’m not missing anything, eventually speaking to the law firm HP uses to deal with visa issues. To my great surprise I was told I need to cancel my work visa. A process that takes 6 working days and has to start on my final working day. During this time my passport will be held by the Entry-Exit Bureau, meaning I cannot make my flight to Hanoi! I thought getting my work visa was the only thing I had to be worried about, it turns out that cancelling it is an issue as well!

The law firm is trying to expedite things for me so i’ll go and give my passport and other documents in today, making it a tight schedule to get my passport before the flight. Hope it goes well. Human Resources really dropped the ball on this one. I hate to get stressed in general, and it’s even worse when I’m not the blame (or is it the other way around?….)