Finally in China
20 Jun 2007
|So I succeeded this morning in acquiring my passport back with visa intact. She recognised me as soon as she saw me. Probably wondered where the hell I gad been. Still it is done and time to pack.
Booking out is usually a quick process but a woman decided to make everyone wait because she did not like the fact that she had been charged for the phone calls she made. Now this I can understand. You see she had used a phone card and most places don't charge you for this. However as Mum and I found out in Europe, some hotels do charge you because it means that you are using a different carrier. Not fun when you find this out after the fact.
I ended up being served by another staff member and all went smooth. I asked the concierge if he could get me a taxi to which he said that I could get one around the corner. Who knew there was a taxi stand there. So off I trundled off with my stuff and grabbed the taxi. He took me to the train station and pointed out which spot to go in. I paid him for the ride but he said 'bags' to me. I knew what he meant but played dumb. You see, they think that they should get extra if they help put your bags in the boot. To me that is part of the job and I had already rounded up the fare so he wasn't getting anymore. Besides all I had left were coins which I wanted to keep.
The process of getting on the train was a pretty smooth one which only left me the fascination of watching people rush to be first as they do, when you know that everyone has an assigned seat and being first is irrelevant. Yet they still do it. I did get some more tissues though and let the staff now of a bit of liquid on the ground that someone might slip in. After fifteen minutes, they spill was still there. People had been informed but no one seemed to want to clean it up.
The train was very empty and I had all four seats to myself. So I put my feet up and yes Mum I snoozed. Couldn't help it, those things just rock me to sleep. Did see some of the country side. Lots more buildings amongst rolling hills and fields of vegetables. No photo's though as the reflection in the windows was bad.
Finally arrived and go ready for the customs check. My forms had been filled out and passport was ready. Go through that bit but got held up on the baggage inspection. They wanted to see inside my bag. No problem. The thing that had caught there attention and the only thing they looked at was a frog statue that I had bought for Nanna. It's small and very pretty but I think they may have thought on X-ray, that it was a real frog which is a big no no.
Next problem came swiftly. They had no ATM's in the terminal and none outside. How was I to pay for a taxi to the hotel. Lin was no where to be seen so I was on my own. One of the customs girls suggested I get the taxi driver to take me to one before the hotel. Good idea. Asked my taxi driver to do this and explained that if he didn't, I had no money to pay him.
Well he didn't speak any real English did he. We kept going past ATM's and ended up right at the hotel. I got all my stuff out and tried to arrange with e hotel to pay for him then add it to my bill. No go there, there English was just as bad. Finally a woman came out that spoke English well enough and explained to the driver. I organised to get my stuff inside and that I would go around the corner to the bank. The driver would have to wait. He screwed up so stuff him.
It was a very long process and a very frustrating one. To cut a long story short, he ended up with all the Hong Kong coins I had left. More than what the fare should have been but as no one likes to change coins, he was probably going to get stuck with them. I didn't care.
I got to my room and set up the computer. Then there was a knock at the door.
It was Lin. She had only just opened her web site and seen my emails. It was great to see her, a face I knew. We had a bit of a chat about my experience here so far then she invited me out to dinner with a couple of her friends and to later go to the school where there is to be a performance on.
Dinner was at a restaurant just down the road and that is where I got to meet Rony and Cheer. Two great guys who speak English pretty well. We had dinner although Lin had to wait for hers a little bit longer as the service was not that great.
We then took a taxi up to the school to watch the students perform. There was a few speeches beforehand and Rony translated any good bits for me. The performances were brilliant and I had a ball. What an introduction to a country. Best first night yet. I also got to meet some of Lin's other friends, colleagues and former students.
We then went back to her place on the campus. It was good to be in air con as it was the hottest day they have had here for a while. Eventually Rony, Cheer and I got in a taxi and headed back down the hill to drop me at my hotel. From there, they walked back to their homes as they weren't far.
It was a great night and it's weird to think that I am in China but so glad that I am...finally.