Opening our bank accouts on Thanksgiving Day

China has its own holidays and American Thanksgiving Day is not one of them. For us Thanksgiving Day was just another Thursday workday. We walked about 15 minutes to the nearest branch of China Merchants Bank, which reportedly has good English language on-line banking.

It took only a few minutes and a copy of our passports for each of us to open an account and obtain a UnionPay debit card. Even though the bank was not in an area where many foreigners live, the bank teller spoke pretty good English. Our cards work for withdrawing cash at any of the bank’s ATMs and for purchasing merchandise in China and nearby countries like Korea, Japan and Thailand.

We celebrated our achievement with a Thanksgiving feast of roast duck and yams. Marcia bought the duck from a tiny neighborhood specialty shop. During business hours the owner always has a row of freshly roasted birds hanging on display.

Marcia bought the yams from the yam man. Traditionally Chinese kitchens don’t have ovens, so entrepreneurs build portable roasters out of an old oil drum. The drum is fitted to roast yams and corn-on-the-cob over a charcoal. The roaster and a bin to hold a stock of unroasted items are mounted on a push cart that rolls along on a couple of old bicycle wheels. The yam man or woman wheels the shop around the neighborhood and always has a stock of yams that have just come “out of the oven”.

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