Third time's the charm, I guess. I got to the consulate about 9:40 am, all my documents in hand, walked down the half block of fencing to control the non-existent crowds, passed the bag inspection, showed my passport, took my number, which was called in 5 minutes, presented everything to a different officer who didn't smile, but didn't scowl either, but who made lots of marks on the papers then disappeared for a few minutes, came back, made more marks, then handed me a receipt and told me to return on Tuesday. I was out of the building before 10, walked past the still empty fencing, J-walked across 42nd St. to the bus stop and watched Falun Gong as I waited. They are across the street from the consulate protesting every day. I found another blog about jumping through hoops for a Chinese visa. Interesting story.
I had a lot of time to kill before my afternoon date so I sat in Bryant Park and read the free Daily News that was handed to me when I entered the subway, then went to the library and looked at a show of contemporary photos about the city. After that down to Chinatown.
Lunch was in an amazing place where you get a choice of 5 items from a huge buffet for $4.50. I don't like eating alone in restaurants; this makes it easier because I don't have to wait around to be served, to say nothing of appreciating the price. This is the season for lichee, longans and rambutans, amongst other exotics. I wandered around looking, smelling (not always pleasantly), and appreciating all the food for sale. If I could live anywhere I wanted, it would be in Chinatown.
I was meeting Shirley Sun at 2 at the Confucius statue, but they've fenced off the statue and taken away the benches. With 40 minutes before my date I was getting tired and wanted a place to sit. I found a "bakery" with a few seats and rented one for $1.50 for an iced coffee. I was determined to sit for at least 20 minutes, but even with an interesting view out the window it was hard for me to stay there. Finally it was time to go find Shirley. It's been a year since I've seen her. She's still working with bus advertising, but now she's designing the ads and posters, instead of selling. I think she's having a very hard time here and is planning to return to China. When I first met her she said she loved it here because the sky was blue. So I asked here if she will miss the blue sky. She said it was too high.