Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Friday, March 06, 2009

Passport Card 

Finally got my passport card today. I think I might have wasted my time. Says right on it, "Valid only for international land and sea travel between United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda." So you can't use it to get into China. I knew that, actually, because China is does not have a visa-free relationship with the United States, and there is certainly no place for a visa on a wallet sized card. But I thought perhaps it would have something identifying it as representative of the regular passport. No such luck. It has a completely different number. It's a separate ID. Still, I will probably keep it in my wallet, because, if nothing else, it is positive ID, and proof of US citizenship. You can't really travel in China without a passport. I guess you might get by if you buy the very cheapest ticket and sleep in a tent. I have never had them check my passport in the cheap seats. But the soft sleeper is like a hotel. They will always ask for your ID. Sometimes they just write down the number, but they are supposed to check to make sure that your visa is current. And of course there is no way you are going to get on a plane in China without a passport. So when I travel, I always have my passport with me. But when I come back to Beijing, I throw my passport in a drawer, and that's where it stays. I don't carry my passport with me every day. My wallet was stolen in Suzhou back in 2005, so I have no driver's license. Last summer when Olympic security was so tight, the university gave me a campus ID, so I do have that now. But prior to the Olympics, the only form of ID I carried around Beijing was my business card. You probably should have more than that in China.

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