Firstly, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We had a very interesting weekend which we think will forever be another one of those China experiences we'll be able to fondly look back on.
It was on Saturday morning when we were advised that the PSB (Public Security Bureau a.k.a the police) wanted to check our room sometime that day. We thought that it was one of those standard passport checks that they used to do in Beijing and so we were happy to comply with the notice.
Nothing happened until we got back to our room that afternoon. At 16:15h we were informed that we had to leave our room immediately. We had no idea what the reason for this was and believed that we had just been kicked out of the hotel! We must be really annoying guests! We were very confused and the managers who spoke with us were then confused about our confusion. We asked why? What was going on? It then became clear that no one had communicated with us as to what was actually happening. They thought we knew whereas we thought that the PSB didn't want us in the country.
It turned out that a high-ranking international official was due to check in and with very short notice, the hotel was told to increase the security level of said official. Our room is in close proximity to the room the VIP would check into even though we're on a different floor. The PSB however, wanted all rooms within a particular perimeter to the aforementioned room to be completely empty. We were given 30 minutes to pack our things and were not allowed to access our room during the official's entire stay.
It was in no terms the fault of the hotel. You can't defy the PSB and they can give you as little or as much notice as they want. No choice. We totally understood the hotel's awkward situation and made haste to pack and get out of there as fast as we could. The hotel had organized another room for us so we ended up feeling like we were going away for a weekend. We packed for 3 nights and moved rooms within 35 minutes. Not too bad considering we were trying to figure out what we were doing in the next few days and Christoph trying to work out what gadgets he needed to still be able to work. I now know that we can easily do it in 10 minutes if the situation required it ;-)
So there we were; exiled in a temporary room. It wasn't bad but it did remind us of how settled we were in our 'real' room and how nice our 'real' room really is. Thank goodness our thoughts of banishment were totally out of context! The PSB had absolutely no interest in us; they just wanted empty rooms.
We spoke with a hotel manager afterwards and they told us of a particular guest who also had to move. He was a Chinese-American and kicked up quite a bit of fuss. The one standout line from him was: "I'm an American citizen and I don't have to follow Chinese rules!" Yep. He used that line. He also threatened to call the US Embassy. Can you imagine that conversation? "Hi Embassy? The PSB are making me change rooms but I don't want to. I demand assistance!" Lol.