Looking Up?

Ah, since leaving Macau, and maybe since leaving Phnom Penh, life’s been one hassle after another. In short, I lost a brand new digital SRL camera on a plane, had my visa rejected in Hong Kong and faced a lot of hassle and expense fixing that so I could get back into China before school starts on Monday.

I was forced to go to Shenzhen, a horrid, dirty, dismal city to get a flight to Jinan. I’m completely “shindoi” which is Japanese Kansai dialect for “tired, body and soul.” Now I’m back in Jinan, but busy preparing for Monday and helping the new teachers settle in. Believe it or not all of them had flight delays due to the high level of pollution. In fact, the airlines had four of them just take the train here.

You know something’s wrong if the airlines want you to take a train.

I’ll provide details tomorrow or the next day.

Henan Trip: Hiccup #1

After so much tumult trying to get train tickets, we finally got some. We thought we were on an overnight train since that’s the only trains I asked for. Nope. We were given fast train tickets, which we didn’t realize till we were on the train.

The problem was we didn’t have hotel reservations for Tuesday night. Mind you, it’s a busy travel time. We arrived in dusty Kaifeng at 11 pm. I hate arriving in a city late at night, especially one I don’t know. In Jinan there are some okay looking hotels right by the station, but not in Kaifeng.

Henan is the second poorest province in China and it lags behind my province Shandong in terms of amenities, modern architecture and infrastructure. So there’s one decrepit looking hotel nearby looking like the Chinese version of the Bates Motel. We decide to get to our hotel and hope they have a room. We aren’t thrilled at the prospect of spending who knows how much.

We get to the Tokyo Arts Hotel, which K’s friend recommended. My, it’s upscale and grandiose. Once inside we explain our plight hoping for the best. It turns out that they don’t have any rooms left. Moreover, they doubt anyone has one since it’s a holiday.

All is not lost as the English speaking receptionist spoke with the manager of the adjoining Japanese style spa. We could stay there! For only 49 rmb each (compare to 488 rmb/night for the room we booked).

I’d stayed overnight in such public baths in Japan. They weren’t bad. You donned the cotton cabana sets they provide and sleep on a comfy Lazy Boy chair with 70 other people. It’s a very Asian thing.

After we surrendered our shoes for plastic slippers, he manager led us to the locker room. We changed clothes and were then led through a corridor, into an elevator, down some stairs, through another corridor, up some stairs and around until we were in the VIP section. Eventually, we got to our room. Not one of the big rooms with dozens of people, but a small hotel-like room with a TV and two Lazy Boys. Now the restroom was down the hall and the showers back by the locker rooms, but this was quite nice.

We both slept easily, in fact this was the best night’s sleep I had the whole time I was gone.