Going To China, Finally

I had been flying here and there for the last little while … everywhere but China. LOL! It’s too complicated to explain. There were a number of things that took a little lot longer than everyone anticipated.

But I am finally in the YVR airport. With all my bags packed and all.


One of the things that made things took so long was that I had problems with … my visa. I am not sure why it just had to happen to me. So I spent a lot of hours lining up at the Visa Section of Chinese Consulate in Vancouver. Each visit takes a minimum of  3 hours!

You can see from the lines above how inadequate the Visa section is in handling the demand of people wanting to visit China these days. At 7:00AM, the lines already started to form downstairs and around the block, even though the office only opens at 9:00AM.

Yeah, I was one of those who went at 7:00AM. Either that or I will not get served until noon!


I earlier try to engage services that helps people apply visa on your behalf. I swear never to use them again because those guys are nothing more than queueing up for you and pushing documents. They botched my application and one thing led to another, it made my application more complicated than it need to be. I guess if you are just applying for a tourist visa, it is straightforward and you can use those services.

In the end, I had to get clearance from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Commercial to issue me an official clearance. I only got the proper visa on hand just 12 hours before the flight. That was not so bad. There is a woman ahead of me who were getting her visa just 4 hours from her flight time.

By now, I am an expert with the Visa section of the Vancouver China Consulate. 🙂


So when all the i’s were dotted and all the t’s crossed, I was all ready to go. It felt kind of strange not going to work at this office for the next few months.

The folks in the office were already talking about what they are going to do with my work area! Yeah, someone told me that they were discussing making my nice spacious work area as a standup meeting area. I won’t be surprised if I find my chair and stuff missing when I return.


I decided to have my lunch on my last day in Vancouver at Hoi An. I absolutely love their Mi Quang. Without even looking at the menu, I ordered that. I like the broth particularly. Have you tried this Vietnamese dish before?

Hoi An is a lot more busier these days. I think it is because more and more people have since learn about their unique Vietnamese regional dishes. They opened just about 5 months ago. I stumbled on this place just on the day they opened. See my post here.


Then I had to get a haircut. It was getting long already and I did not want to deal with finding out where and how to get a haircut so soon after I land in Beijing. Moreover, I am due to meet lots of people in Beijing within the first week and I wanted to look better.

I hate getting surprises with my haircut. I usually go to the same old place for many many years already. Some person, some barber shop.

Hey, I gotta figure out how to get haircuts in Beijing. Can someone tell me more about this? Like where to go? How much it is?


With so much to do and so little time, we decided to have a quick dinner at Nanzaro and Arkensen’s favourite restaurant. We went to Kam Do.

I won’t even want to show you the picture of what the boys ordered. They ordered the same old thing — salted fish and chicken fried rice. Yeah, both of them ordered the same thing.

Suanne ordered the one above. It was some baked spaghetti dish with pork chop. Tasted horrible. She took just two bites and did not eat any more. Hmmm … I was thinking that perhaps she did not feel like eating because I will be away for some time. 🙂


For me, I had the one thing I love the most at Kam Do. I like their fried chicken wings. I like their hard crisp outside and inside, it is moist. Like always, it is hot to handle. So I always break them apart to cool down a bit, otherwise it is impossible to eat.


So, here I am. All ready for my adventure in China. According to plans, I will be living and working in Beijing for the next four months. I had options for home visits or if I forego that, I could use it for the family to visit me instead. So, I am looking forward to Suanne and boys come over in the next month or so. By then, I think I would make a great tour guide.

I had never been away from the family for that long before. The longest was just 2 weeks. While the hardest part of my assignment to Beijing is being away from the family, I am so looking forward to gaining that experience working in Beijing.

On a personal note, this is a dream assignment. Not only will this assignment helps my career a lot, I had always wanted to visit China ever since I started the “Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine” on chowtimes. I also wanted to learn more about my roots as a Chinese. Moreover, this is an exciting time to be in China as the entire country transforms itself into a leadership role in the world.

Anyway, I hope I will find time to share with you more about my adventures in China. So stay tuned.

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. Chubbypanda

    Have fun, Ben. This sounds like an amazing adventure. Stay safe!

  2. fmed

    Bon voyage. Blog whenever you get a chance!

  3. Sam

    awwwww :(. Ben, I will miss your reviews and posts. Hopefully you will have time to blog about your China food experience. I look forward to reading that. I wish you a safe trip.

  4. Joyluckclub

    Wow…sounds like exciting times ahead. Enjoy and stay safe!

  5. Pinoy Gourmet

    Ben When you try to a get a haircut in China,Make sure you go to one that really gives haircuts,otherwise men go to barber shops for”special services”.Suanne might not be too happy with that.Bon voyage

    1. LotusRapper

      Ben – happy and safe travels, we will miss your regular write-ups. Do keep us updated on your whereabouts (and your foodie discoveries) !

  6. Eat. Travel. Eat!

    What a journey! Best wishes for you in the coming months. Be careful of those problems you posted about last time in China and be safe!

  7. Michelle

    What a great opportunity, Ben!!!! That’s wonderful your family will be able to join you for a visit also. It’ll be the best experience having you as a tour guide once you’re more familiar with the city. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to visit some other cities on the weekends. Congratulations and we look forward to hearing about more of your eating adventures there…:-).

  8. Doug

    Have fun Ben! I’m excited to see your update about China!

  9. Kevin

    What an opportunity, have fun, take care, eat lots!

  10. van pham

    Good luck and have fun! Can’t wait to see it all. My friend is actually going to China in a couple weeks with his main trip to Hong Kong. But something about seeing the animals or some kind of safari there but I would not be able to say the name.

  11. DonaldD

    Hi Ben, good luck to your trip, I just came back from our China hoilday. I wen to Yunan Lijiang- the old town. If you ever able to wander in this side of China, go for it, it will be a very interesting journey for you as you will exprience and encounter the minority group culture in China. I really enjoy it. Be sure to stay inside the old city to exprience the old world feel.

  12. James M

    It is good for you to find your ancestor’s roots.
    Well it was not so bad to get a working visa for more than a day, compare for a Chinese to get tourist visa to Canada took them 3 months to a year if they ever get it.
    I had hair cut in China (not in Beijing) from 3 to 10 yuan in many difference provinces.
    Good luck Ben, enjoy your stay in China.

  13. Lily

    Hi Ben,
    Wishing you well on your job assignment and plenty of eating opportunities! We’ll be the lucky recipients of your interesting upcoming blogs. I’ll be flying off to Hong Kong myself end of next month. I can’t wait!

  14. jason

    Weren’t you just there? I remember you putting lots of photos up of the forbidden palace et al.

    1. Ben

      Hi Jason: Yeah, I was in Beijing earlier. This one is a return trip but I will be here for a longer period of time. Ben

  15. Erick P.

    Hi Ben,

    It’s always difficult to leave your loved ones for such a long time especially with your two growing kids. I’m proud of the fact that you have made such progress in your career to be given this opportunity to work in China. I will miss your Vancouver restaurant reviews, but I’m sure Suanne will be up to the task. Suanne, stay strong. You should be commended for staying back in Vancouver to take care of the household. Ben, keep safe in the Middle Kingdom and I look forward to reading Chow Times – Beijing/Vancouver. Best wishes!

  16. WS

    Your plans are to keep Chowtimes online for the foreseeable future? With the same format(it would still be mostly restaurant reviews). Is Chowtimes, still among the top Vancouver food bloggers the past few months for daily pageviews(I still check several times daily at least for the Vancouver blogroll)?

    1. Ben

      Hi WS: Nope, chowtimes will evolve. It will not be a resto review site and I don’t intend to make it as one. It will be what it is stated on our banner — it is about Ben and Suanne’s food and travel adventures as we set out to do since day 1. But we will definitely keep chowtimes online. With our infrequent blogging these days, we have seen a big drop in traffic. That is to be expected and that is perfectly all right with us. Life’s priorities changes and just need to move on to other things. 🙂 Ben

  17. @Shopaholicinvan

    I hope you packed for the minus 40+ degree weather. You are very lucky Suanne is very supportive; good to hear the family gets to visit you. All the best from fellow Chow Times readers on your transition to Beijing!

  18. pinoy gourmet

    More power to your Evolution,Keep us updated on your food adventures in China.Best Regards

  19. Duckie

    Wow! 4 months IS a long time to be away from your family. It’ll be exciting for them to visit you, though.

    Good luck Ben! Can’t wait to see your posts from there.

  20. Jean

    Best of luck with travel and work in China for next few months. Look forward to seeing how chowtimes.com will evolve.

    My partner lined up with others (twice) for his visa. He’s not sure he’ll be going in the end (if it happens, near end of Oct.) but wants to be ready.

    He learned his lesson when he was turned away at the airport boarding gate, when he didn’t realize he needed a visa for a short trip to Tawain! 2 biz days later he got the visa. Painful lesson.

  21. Min Harng

    Good for you Yap, I make sure I log on to Chow Times to catch you blog on China. Put in more pictures.

  22. cjyee

    i have been following your blog for a while and am currently at peking university until december. maybe if you do a chowtimes review in beijing i’ll stop by 😉 all the best and get prepared for the cold soon!

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