Monday, July 19, 2010

Keepin' Legal

Because my work permit gets cancelled when I no longer work, I have to either leave the country and come back as a visitor, or stay and pay a fine, which oddly is much less than even the cheapest airplane ticket out of the country. But I'm a little wary of having some sort of 30-day overstay stamp in my passport, and anyways it would be nice to see something in Asia other than Taiwan.
I had thought to go to a beach/ resort area somewhere in Southeast Asia but it turns out everywhere is either rainy (Thailand), expensive (Bali) or has hotels with machine-gun wielding guards (the Philippines). So it looks like it will be Hong Kong for me, and I'm actually getting kind of excited about it. I think I will get to stay at a pretty nice hotel with a very nice pool and there will be plenty to keep me busy as a tourist. And it seems like English is quite popular there so I won't have too many problems, since they speak the "wrong" kind of Chinese there. :)
Figuring out when exactly I need to go has been a bit of a test. My big problem is that my work visa doesn't technically expire until September, but it will be cancelled at some point, so I have to somehow be able to show the people at the airport that when I come in it's not on my work visa, but on a visitors visa. I'm not doing anything shady or illegal but it's very hard to find information online or even to get a good answer when you call somewhere.
So I spent the better part of a day trying to sort things out- I needed a form filled out at work, then I went to the immigration office in Taichung, but they said I had to go to the immigration office in the county, which fortunately is in Fong Yuan. When I went there I filled out a form and wanted to ask some questions, but instead my form got sent back to someone in the back office and then they had me pick up the phone and my old boss was on the line... I was like, "I have no idea why I'm talking to you!" It was pretty confusing but by the end I understood that at some point, my work cancellation would go through, at which point they would call my old boss and she would call me, and then I could go to get an extension until I go to Hong Kong. And when I told them the date that I wanted to go to Hong Kong, they said that will probably be OK, but they have no way of knowing. Ha!
That same day I tried to do my taxes. I tried to go to a tax office in Taichung because for some reason it takes way longer for those of us who do our taxes in Fong Yuan to get refunds. But they said I had to go to Fong Yuan. Then it turned out that I have to wait until a few days before I leave for Hong Kong to do my taxes, for some reason.
So I didn't really get anything fully sorted but at least I got a slightly clearer idea of everything. And sadly I got a sunburn on my arms from all that driving because at a stoplight these two Taiwanese girls were like "Look at that foreigner, wearing her arm tubes! Where did she even buy them? No one wears those anymore!" And I was embarassed so I just wore my "driving gloves". Memo to myself- don't listed to snotty Taiwanese girls. My arm tubes are awesome.

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