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So we get up at 6:15 for breakfast at 6:45. Breakfast room opens at 6:50. We are only ones there. We get to eating. Then go finish packing.
Checkout at 7:30. It does not go well. Attendant at front desk presents me with a bill for 1190 yuan for room. We already paid this on Expedia at the time of purchase. So then she shows us another bill for 595 yuan. 433 yuan for long distance calls to credit cards and mom after robbery. 160 for breakfast. OL goes to pay this.
But because they took a 100 yuan deposit on my credit card he gives her 500 yuan. Then they ask for my credit card and I’m like it was stolen. I don’t have it. I have to repeat this ten times because they don’t speak English. And the only girl that does refuses to wait on us. I’m done trying to speak Chinese since the front desk acts like my 8 years of college and grad school Mandarin are impossible to understand.
Finally, the only one that speaks English is forced to help. She explains that there was no charge to the card. Just a preauthorization. Ok. So we pay the extra 100 yuan. I don’t have that receipt since it was STOLEN WITH MY WALLET. Now we understand and pay the entire 595 yuan. Which is about $100.
We step outside to get our taxi that we arranged yesterday and the guy tells me we have to wait because he has to change cars. Then he puts us in a taxi with a new driver who drives us to the airport.
At least he uses air conditioning so we don’t have to endure the stench of Xian anymore. OL munches the last of his super minty candies. BTW, they are named Unick. Say it out loud. Made me giggle for a while. Unick candies in China. It’s so wrong.
He takes us to terminal 1 because our flight is with China southern. Evidently flights are organized by carrier number. CZ is at terminal 1. When we get there, the meter reads 85 yuan. But he charges us the price we agreed to with the private car driver of 130. Yet another fuck over in Xian.
We get out and cannot find our flight on the big board. OL asks where to check in. We are sent to line 5-10. When we get up there the attendant makes a call and then tells us we need to be at terminal 2. Ofc.
We ask if there is a shuttle bus and if it’s outside, she says yes yes yes to everything. I think she just wanted to get rid of us. We go outside and find the shuttle bus sign
And wait. And wait. No bus in sight. Family waiting with us gives up and starts walking. We try to hail taxi they laugh at us. Refuse to pick us up.
Finally a 3 row golf cart comes over and the family doubles back. We all squash in. Our luggage in the open bin in back.
Get to terminal two and check in. Turns out China Southern and China Eastern are sister airlines and co-carriers. But in different terminals. Yeah um zero sense there but it’s the norm in Xian.
We take separate lines and OL’s moves faster. We check in. Get 28h and j. Then we go to security.
The dumbass takes my purse and scarf out of the bin and puts them on the belt of the screener. Then I go through metal detector nothing goes off, but they proceed to put me on a pedestal and wand my entire body. Making me turn in a circle away from my stuff. Does that make any sense?
No. But this is just how stupid everything is there.
I go to grab my stuff and my purse isn’t there. I freak the fuck out. That’s the last of my cash and my passport. I’ve got nothing left.
It was in front and all my other shit is there. OL tries to calm me down, but I’m having flashbacks to the mall and underreacting. All OL’s stuff came through and it was behind mine. My voice gets loud and louder as I demand where is my purse? I am on the verge of accusing the guy in front of us of stealing it when another bin comes through.
I’m shaking from flight or fight reaction. We go put my iPad in my backpack and I am still shaken up. I fucking hate Xian. Everything and everyone one. HATE IT.
(Note: This may not be a logical reaction, but this is just how I feel at that moment. And this blog is daily record of my trip experiences)
On way to gate, i stop to pee. Western toilet filled with shit. Do these woman know how to flush?! Seriously?!
I take the dun de. It reeks of urine. I swallow the gag reflex. Several times. Luckily I have toilet paper in my purse. Then the sink to wash my hands. No soap. Ew.
We go to gate 17. Wait to board. There are pidgeons in the rafters chirping. And possibly shitting on us. Great.
They announce our flight is boarding but when go up they tell us nope.
I go to pee at dunde bathroom again. Almost walk in on woman shitting. Luckily her cary on luggage (giant cardboard box) held the door closed.
We wait. Boarding time comes and goes. Flight takeoff time comes and goes. We go up and they say wait another half-hour. Awesome.
Same line as Shanghai. Minus the typhoon. Uh-oh.
I pee again. Get a western toilet with incense coil burning in corner. At least I don’t smell piss for a change. Nice. Soap but security person is washing her hands for major surgery so I wait and wait to get the soap and wash my hands.
Around 11 am they announce in Chinese that our flight is boarding. We all rush to the stairs. Go down. Woman with tuberculosis seems to be behind us clearing her lungs. It’s beyond gross.
We board plane. It’s nice. Big, 2-4-2 seater. Clean. Bathroom does not reek of urine.super cool. It’s 11:20. We wait a long time on the Tarmac. Then get pork balls and rice lunch.
Beijing airport is clean. For some reason they put 5 flights on one baggage turnstile.
Our cabbie has no idea how to get to our hotel. The airport taxi attendant tells him.
So we get to the main road for the hutong and cabbie pulls over to ask directions from locals. One tells him to turn around, another says turn here. A guy with a broom and pan leaps forward and madly gestures and makes these wheezing maniacal sounds. He’s trying to be helpful but it comes off as scary squared.
I can barely maintain a straight face. Then the cab driver asks another question and the guy jumps in again. I look at OL and we are both struggling not to laugh.
This shit only happens to us.
We get to hotel, Far East International Hotel. It looks okay. Shabby but somewhat clean. Check in goes okay. They speak a good amount of English.
We get room 222. We go to room. Step off elevator and are enveloped in urine stench eminating from Ladies’ room on our floor. Xian kind of stench.
The door to our room sticks. Then when we open it the scent of must mold and human urine wraps around our throats.
We realize the must and mildew is coming from the ac vent and the closet. The urine however is coming from the bathroom. We open the door and it smells like a gas station bathroom in a big city. Like millions of people peed there and most missed the bowl. There is black mold along the floor tile in the shower and around the door jam.
It’s a Xian style stench. We close the bathroom door. The rest of the room is dingy. Here’s our view.
The carpet is matted, burnt, and dingy. Ew. The furniture is all knicked. The beds are okay. OL’s however is broken so when you sit on it the bed slides and drops tot the side. Kinda like a water bed.
This is the worst hell hotel ever. And we a here for 9 days. We go explore the hotel and find the hostel in the basement. Ew. See a nice bar down there though. Very nice.
We check out the restaurant where meals are 40 yuan ($7) for breakfast. Ouch pricey. Since our room cost $38.
We see where we can do laundry. Two machines in basement in shared hostel kitchen. Yuckie. This is where hostel guests get their hot drinking water.
We read about the hostel courtyard but have no idea where it is. Turns out it’s across the street.
We go back to room and decide no point in complaining since the whole place is disgusting. And compared to the hostel in basement this is better. But we decide to buy air freshener. Walk out to hutong and explore area south of us.
Rain begins. We find McDonalds and have dinner. Then have mcflurries.
Find a bakery and get a 3 bun treat for me. It’s red bean, coconut, and cream. And a coconut loaf. Get water at local market. Explored a bit then came back to hotel.
Used the lemon air freshener we got at the market. It helped for showering.
But falling asleep was hell. My pillow smelled musty. So I lay face up. I turn to the wall and must and urine stench ooze out of it. The blanket makes my skin itch. Ew. Ew. Ew.
I get up and throw scarf over my skin. Then lay down. Decide I have to switch rooms in the morning. If only I had my credit card. I’d leave and go to Marriott. I can’t take this stench.
Then it gets worse. I get stomach cramps and have to pooh. God help me. I gotta go into the urine smelling moldy bathroom. I pray that it stops. But it doesn’t. It’s horrible in there. Third worst experience of my life next to getting robbed and living through 9-11.
Even though I spray freshen before entering. The urine stench is too strong. Pooh odor cannot mask it. I’m in hell.
Ofc I get two bouts of diarrhea.
Finally, the urine stench wakes OL up. He’s lived in Yemen. And he says he can’t take it anymore. The stench is trickling out of the bathroom.
OL says he wants to go down now to front desk and change rooms. It’s 3am. I say let’s do it we can’t sleep here.
We get dressed. No one is at the front desk. So we go upstairs and call the help line. Someone answers and we tell them the smell coming from our bathroom woke us up. He send the maid who doesn’t speak much English up. She tells me she doesn’t smell anything. Omfg. I know Chinese are used to stench bathrooms but come on. This is horrendous.
She calls the front desk guy says the is nothing she can do. He asks to talk to me and asks what I want him to do. I say change my room. He agrees. Maid takes us to third floor. Horrible stench in hallway emanating from men’s room but our room had no odor. Fake wood floor. Bathroom has no odor. Still some black mold but I can use the toilet without wanting to vomit. Progress.
Then she tells me to get room card changed now. Go to front desk but no one is there but girl sleeping on couch. Wake her up and then guy comes out of darkened area at front desk. He changes are room. Seems pissed, but don’t put people in disgusting rooms that make prison sound pleasant.
I didn’t think things could get worse after Xian. But Beijing seems determined to prove me wrong.
Today was another gut twisting stomach lurching day in Xian. Our last thank the gods.
We woke up by 8:30 because Jinjiang hotel already had loud construction work going on near our room. We had breakfast. Got stared at by Chinese people all through our breakfast.
Look I get that foreigners, especially Caucasians, are not common here but we are human beings not plants. We are not here for your entertainment. Or to have helllooooo hooted at us forty times a day. Like we’re gorillas you are teasing in their zoo cages.
Act like a rational human being for goodness sake. But evidently this is beyond them. Most act like farm animals. I’m not freaking kidding. Especially in Xian. The middle of the country truly is as backwards as people think.
Today I saw at least three kids pissing on the sidewalk. On busy streets. With their mom’s clear consent. Ew. Ew. Ew.
So we walk to the post office to send my package of souvenirs to the US. The great postal worker who helped us yesterday is there. He is super fast and efficient and wonderful. A bright spot in Xian.
However, random Chinese people decide to crowd around me and watch me fill out forms. No sense of personal space or propriety. It’s none of your business. Once again I’m not a fucking tourist attraction. God I hate it here. At least in Shanghai they stared and kept their distance. Here its absolutely uncivilized.
With that task done, we head to the Muslim Quarter for lunch. Along the way stenches unlike any I’ve encountered in the US roll over us. Wrap around us. Force the gag reflex.
It’s like rotten decaying flesh, rancid garbage,and spoiled milk all rolled together. How do people live like this? In such disgusting conditions?
And why do you need a fucking Starbucks where there are serious sanitation problems?! Priorities please.
Randomly on the way around town, we stumble on a subway station sign. Evidence that they are working on the alleged subway we’ve heard tales of but no sign of its construction.
The muslim quarter has lots of food pre-made and sitting out.
Concerned about how safe it is and what trouble it might cause in our stomaches, we decide not to eat there which means walking all the way to Subway near the south gate to the city. Long walk in smoggy humid stenchy hellaciousness.
The Subway sandwich shop worker doesn’t know what goes in a subway club. Omfg seriously. There’s a picture menu. And I don’t know the Chinese for different cold cuts.
I am so sick of this dirty hell hole I tell OL next vacation in Afghanistan. Because that’s how miserable this place feels. It’s not a vacation it’s punishment. I just want it to end.
On the trek back to our hotel, heat stroke sets in again. Migraine so bad I almost burst into tears on street. We get back and I lay down for 4 hours. Still feel ill. Then eat and drink and still migraine. Take migraine medication. Ofc construction work is going on so no way to escape noise and migraine worsens. They continue banging and shouting until7 fucking 30 at night. This isn’t a hotel or a motel. It’s a torture chamber.
I pack my suitcase and we plan to leave. One more dinner and breakfast before we escape Xian.
Luckily nice cab guy is driving us to airport tomorrow. We already scheduled it with him.
After dinner, we return to our hotel room where construction continues after 9 pm. Finally at 10pm, I go to front desk to complain that it’s still going on. I tell the front desk girl that the construction people are still working and talking in loud voices and banging things.
Her response? Asks me when I’m checking out. Perplexed I say tomorrow. Her next question, what time? My response 7:30 am. Her answer is that they wont be doing construction then.
I tell her again in Chinese they are working now. She asks for room number. Then tells me they aren’t working.
I say yes they are and we can’t sleep.
She then ignores me and steps over to check someone in. I walk away. This is the worst hotel experience ever. We’d be better off at the Bates motel.
I storm upstairs and tell OL. He can’t fucking believe it. So he goes to talk to the front desk. He catches her in the elevator and tells her this has to stop. She goes over to construction guys and stares at them. They ignore her. OL steps closer to the workers and that gets one guy’s attention.
He talks to her. She responds. Then there is a pause. OL steps in and asks “Are they stopping? Did you take care of it.” She says they will work 10-20 minutes more. Then she left and OL left.
Yet another clear example of how the people of Xian have no consideration for anyone. I can’t fucking stand this place.
Today we slept in until the workers awakened us at 10am banging. I did laundry in sink to expel some nervous energy. OL threw covers over his head.
I decided to buy the expensive silk scarf at Wanda plaza. We walked over there. I had my purse on my arm with my camera. Held onto both the entire walk to Wanda plaza. Through the two underpasses.
We get on express escalator from ground floor to fifth floor. One ginormous escalator. A couple Chinese people crowd us. Totally normal. They always crowd foreigners.
After two bumps, I step away and push OL up telling him they are crowding me. This happens so much in China, I don’t think much of it. Get off at 5th floor and go into McDonalds. I get in line. OL gets a table.
While I’m waiting a little girl stares and me and says ni hao. Then she says hello. Her mom is behind me in line.
When I order I go to pay and my purse is open. Weird. I never leave it opened. And my wallet is gone. Double weird. I get a bad feeling someone stole my wallet. But I am not 100% sure it was in my purse. Or maybe I just don’t want to believe this is happening.
I step out of line to get $ from OL. When I get back in line to pay mom is in front of me with kid. So I pay with OL money and we go eat.
I’m hoping I left my wallet on table in room when rearranging my money last night. We scarf down lunch and try to think of when it could get stolen. Escalator. Or McDonalds. Ugh.
But I only got bumped on escalator. Probably escalator.
Get back to room and turn it upside down. No wallet there. Fuck. I have a bout of diarrhea from stress. There was about $200 American dollars worth of Chinese currency (1200 yuan) and $60 American bucks. Fuck. The money however isn’t the worst part. Someone took my license, credit cards, ATM card. Everything in my wallet is gone.
I only have $450 in cash hidden in suitcase. Ugh. Not much I can buy now.
Go to tell front desk and they are so confused. Only one girl speaks English. I try Chinese and they don’t seem to get it. Finally, English speaker comes over and I tell her to call the police because my wallet was stolen. She asks from the hotel in a voice laced with not again. I say no from Wanda guan Chang.
She ask what is missing. I say 3 credit cards. 2 bank cards. And 1200 yuan( about 150$).
Then i cry a bit.
She calls police and tells us someone from foreign office will call back. Says go to room and wait.
So we ask how to call credit cards and cancel all of them. She opens phone for international calls–8 yuan per minute. Way to rape someone who just got robbed.
OL and I get to room and start calling credit card companies and bank. Takes about 30 minutes to call all those places. Luckily wrote down the account numbers and non US phone numbers for each company. No one used my cards. Thank goodness.
Reissue all cards to CT address. Except one credit card sent to Beijing hotel.
I luckily have 88$ American in my purse still and 450$ in my suitcase hidden.
But not having access to cash freaks me out.
Also being victim of crime, even a non-violent one leaves me shaken and feeling unsafe.
Especially since I know Chinese people robbed me and I’m surrounded by them. Now logic says anyone can be a thief, but it just happened in China, which has a really really homogeneous population. So how can I possibly feel safe?
I finish card canceling and go downstairs to see what is going on. It’s been over an hour since I reported the wallet stolen. 2pm now. Front desk girl tells me foreign office of police department will come at 3pm. So I should wait in room.
At 3pm, she calls and tells us to come down stairs. She brings us outside and we are put into the police car. The driver speaks little English and takes us outside the city gate to the police station. Driving is intense. Airconditioning doesn’t work.We get there and he leaves us outside building to wait.
Finally comes to get us and bring us to 18th floor. We follow him around to office where people are supposed to speak English but no one does to us. They tell me to fill out form and then walk away.
No one asks what happened. No one cares. Or rather all they care about is the exact amount of money stolen. Because they ask me half a dozen times about that. I’m not sure if it’s because there is a certain threshold where they must investigate or if they are calculating their kickback from the pickpocket ring.
Ol watches. One woman instant messages on computer, one stays on cell phone and another browses Internet. The only competent person gets harassed by everyone else. We are waiting for her to read my report. She laughs when gets to part about being bumped and jostled on escalator being a common occurrence.
She stamps and signs off on stuff. Give me confirmation of filing. Refuses to give me copy of report. I’m so frustrated and upset. And this felt so pointless.
I cry as we leave in elevator. Then I cry in car ride back. I’m just so upset at having my property stolen. Now I feel like I cannot trust anyone and have to be on constant guard. My default is to spit kick and hit if anyone touches me now. Which pretty much ruins the rest of my time in China.
OL comforted me and gave me tissues. Finally I calmed down.
And I realize we are in the middle of nowhere. The cop has taken us to some back road with broken down buildings. I’m thinking he’s gonna get rid of the foreigners. Then he puts the car in park but leaves it running. He grabs two bags and says just a minute.
He brings something into one of the houses. OL and I burst out laughing. This is the kind of shit that happens to us.
He comes back with two cokes for us. I open mine and almost spray myself then his driving nearly spills it on me. OL wisely refrains from opening his.
The sugar helps.
We continue on a rip roaring ride back to our hotel. The police man drops us off and wishes us well.
Lol. So since I’m technically penniless we decide to hit the bank and convert $60 American dollars. This takes 20 minutes. Ten or so stampings of papers. Four people. A review of my passport and visa. My signature on something. And two counting machines.
Finally I get 379 yuan. Ouch US dollar at all time low. I do make jokes about not using ATM since I got robbed.
We decide to rest a bit and salvage the day with some night photos. Ofc it takes forever to get dark here. At 7:20 still light so we wander down an old calligraphy road I read about.
OL gets some more paper cuts. We both get this flute thing we can’t play.
Head back to nan men still no lights on tower. So we go to Subway for dinner. Then we walk outside at 8:30. Nan men is illuminated.
Pretty. We walk up to the bell tower and drum tower and take some pics.
Then walk back to hotel. Get a little turned around and end up at the park.
Cute. Flying electric kites. Neat.
We come back to room.
I had a pleasant time walking around tonight but I’m angry and I’m hyper vigilant. I don’t feel like I’m on vacation anymore. I feel homesick for the first time. I put a luggage lock on my purse so no one can slide it open ever again.
I kinda hate this city right now. I hate this country right now. I wish I wasn’t here. It’s a lawless, filthy place without any redeeming qualities. At least in my eyes. The people live in filth and squalor.
The retched smells seeping out of the ground indicate it’s a bad bad place. Nothing good ever came of something that smells rotten and rotted to the core.
Maybe it’s because I was violated and I’m still reeling from it. But I cannot see this place as anything but a hotbed for evil. The corruption the Communists tried to extinguish is thriving in their pseudo-capitalism. Congrats. You’ve brought back everything wrong with the original republic.
Sleep well all night. Wake up around 9:30. Don’t motivate. Chillaxing in bed for a while. OL wakes up in good mood.
We get dressed and go downstairs at 10:45. Thinking we can have breakfast maybe since the hotel guide says restaurant open all day. Nope. Only open til 9:30 for Bfast. Opens at 11 for lunch. Ugh.
So annoying that they didn’t tell us at checkin. Disgusted I go up to room to eat some Pocky. strawberry flavored Pocky. After 11, we head back downstairs. Restaurant has fixed meals. Price is nice. 30 yuan. Food is not. Mine is too salty with pork and cabbage. OL’s is eggplant that is tasteless.
Upside is the restaurant has wireless so we can check email and find Subway and McDonalds. These are very important activities for us. We decide to try walking to Bell Tower and Drum Tower. Looks walkable on our trusty map and are major sites.
We decide to cut down side street off of Jiefang Lu, Xi yi Lu. Lots of sights and scents. Reminds me of Old Beijing. Feels very real and not anesthetized. There’s a talking parrot that says, “Ni hao.” (Hello)
We see little shops and get water. Turn down wrong street, nan xin jie and stumble on Watsons store (small CVS without the pharmacy) and Taiwan bakery. Weird mall where the escalators don’t run to the next floor.
Double back to Xi yi Lu. Walk until hit Beida jie. Then follow it to Bell Tower. Using underpasses to get to it since it’s in the middle of a rotary. Weirdly all the escalators are shut down.
OL finds ticket booth, we get Drum and Bell tower double ticket for 40 yuan.
Bell tower is very cool. Worth checking out. Ornate ceilings. Nice view but for the serious smog situation.
Take underpass to Kaiyuan mall but nowhere to sit. God we hate Asian malls. No benches.
Wander to Haagan Dazs where 2 scoops is 9$ but you can sit in a plush chair with air conditioning.
I have green tea double scoop. OL sits with me.
Then we journey to drum tower. Get a couple souvenirs.
OL loves drum tower, I prefer bell tower. We see a long swath of trees and head into it after exiting the drum tower.
Get sidetracked into long mark
Go on 2 hour shopping spree. Intense. OL gets 3 sets of chopsticks. I get a couple tshirts and a name chop.
We have no idea where we are and we don’t care. It’s fun.
See a guy doing finger painting. Much cheaper than Shanghai temple purchase. OL loves these paintings. We each get two.
We did well on the bargaining situation. Not getting sucked into going higher than we wanted. However, the I can’t make a profit argument annoyed us. If you can’t, don’t sell it. That simple.
Finally we rein ourselves in and realize we are in Muslim quarter on Bei yuan men. Check out the food stalls and a restaurant but aren’t hungry yet.
So we wander back to hotel along da pi yuan. Came back to hotel and looked at booty.
Then went in search of restaurant for dinner. Hit Renren on the side street near hotel. Delish squared. OL had cashew chicken and I had sweet and sour chicken and egg drop soup with corn in it. Everything was fresh flavorful and delicious.
The waitresses were amazing. Went out of their way to make sure we got everything. Super helpful. Decided to leave a tip but they raced after us and refused to take it.
We got water and came back to room to rest.
Sit beside the gate until 5:45pm when suddenly boarding begins.
We are all aboard plane by 6:04. Until a woman leaps up and demands a blanket. Not like we all haven’t been waiting for hours to leave. Then the captain announces we can’t take off until 6:40. I go pee. Then OL does.
Flight takes off around 7 after several false starts and a slow tour of the airport.
Upside, they feed us. I get beef and noodles, OL gets chicken with rice. And these mega powerful mint gum drops with eucalyptus and menthol. OL nearly kills me with his minty minty freshness.
We have some turbulence during which none of the Chinese follow instructions regarding staying in seats. Which is the norm in China.
We land around 9:30. Hiking girl practically shoves me aside to go climb mountain. Lol. We go to get luggage and it takes forever. Grrr.
I pop over to tourist place and pick up a map of Xian recommended by the Lonely Planet guidebook. We wait for luggage to start. OL gets in there to get bags and I wait with backpacks.
We go on search of taxis. No signage. Finally ask Info Desk. Unfortunately a guy keeps saying I’m a taxi driver beside us. Every guidebook warns against taking the guys inside and recommends going outside to taxi stand. We tell him no repeatedly and then go to outside taxi stand.
Taxi stand guy and cab driver speak English. Xian is hazy at night. Smog we guess. Cab driver drives with window down.
This is our intro to Xian. The smells. Dear god. Horse shit. Rancid milk. Sour garbage. Sickly sweet garbage. I don’t know what else we smelled. But it was bad. OL and I keep making faces and trying to name what we smell. It’s an assault on our nostrils every step of the way.
Takes a while to get into city center. The cab ride is worse than Suzhou. Wild wild west driving. Man on cell phone tries to walk across seven lane highway. We assume he’s drunk to be this stupid. Cars and motorbikes and bikes and trucks coming at each other from every angle. Not sure there are roads. Just vehicles merging and converging. Xian drivers turn three lanes into six.
Intense. Xian has a ton going on at night. People are out and about. Maybe it’s because the air is better. Idk. Monuments are beautifully lit up at night. See bell tower and drum tower and gates to city. Gorgeous.
Taxi driver finally pulls up on sidewalk and parks in front of hotel. We pay 150yuan for ride. We get out and go to check into Jinjiang inn.
Front desk speaks English. Checkin is very slow with forms etc. They take forever to find my reservation. Finally we are given room key. It’s on the first floor around a corner. Hidden from view so we take elevator to second floor. Double back. Then walk down long side hallway. Open the room and the stench of rotten dairy products robs us of thought. Omfg. We search the room for the source and realize the window is open, ew.
We shut it and turn on the ac. Second problem. One small bed. The reservation clearly states 2 beds. OL gets his German face. We are going back to the front desk he tells me. I swallow. Okay.
We go to front desk and show our confirmation which states standard room with 2 beds. She gives us a new room on 4th floor. However, in her nervousness she gives us a room number that doesn’t exist. 8441. I deduce she meant 8411. At the end of the hall. Beyond the section of wall hidden behind a sheet where some sort of construction is going on.
Room had 2 beds. OL gives me double and takes single. Room is neat. A/C smells of mold.
Bathroom is small and badly lit but clean and modern. I want to cry. Such a fall from the last 3 hotels. No safe in room, leave valuables with front desk my ass.
OL says it’s not that bad. We’re just tired. OL tries to figure out the tv. Finds only CCTV Chinese channels. Asks how many CCTV channels the can be. Answer: 18. Finds Bear Grylls dubbed in Chinese and goes apeshit.
We have western dimsum. Lays potato chips, shortbread, Pocky, BBQ chips, rice crackers.
OL passes out before I get out of shower. Then he talks to me twice in German while still asleep. I don’t speak German.
Normally the train to Xi’an takes 12 hours and a flight takes 2 hours. But not in our case.
We woke up at 7:30 am, breakfasted at the Asset Hotel, and checked out by 8:45. The doorman walked us to the cab with an umbrella. Excellent service.
On the cab ride to the airport, it was raining and overcast. On the highway, we noticed the high winds. Uh-oh.
We arrived at China Eastern in terminal one of the Pudong airport at 9:30 for a 12 pm flight. Signage posted at the checkin says all flights are cancelled due to typhoon. We check the big board of flights and it’s cancelled. Ugh. We ask the attendants near the sign and they tell us to go to terminal 2.
We opt to go to the ticket desk and wait in line. No one lines up behind us, knowing foreigners are a handful. She tells us we can go on a flight tomorrow. We ask if there are any others today. She said Shanghai Airlines has a flight at 2pm that might still take off. If weather permits.
But we have to find and take the shuttle bus to terminal 2 to see if we can get on the Shanghai airlines flight. Lol.
We go there and get in line again. She says it may still take off or may be cancelled. We take our chances and get booked on it. Then we go sit by the big board and wait. From 10:15 onward.
We sit near railing with luggage surrounding OL. I tell him he’s in the bedroom and I’m in the living room. We find this hysterical.
Every hour or so one of us goes to ask about the flight. The big board isn’t updated.
There is no info on it being cancelled or delayed. At about 1, there is still no update on flight.
I get xiao long tang bao at the dumpling place and tea. The xiaojie gets nervous talking to me and keep putting her hand in front of her mouth which makes it impossible to hear her. The dumplings btw turn out to be a mistake because I will burp dumplings for the next 6 hours. At the airport.
While I eat, OL checks the board and asks airline checkin people about our flight. They try to speak english with OL. The guy rambles and key point OL gets is if lucky after 1hour wait.
The ramble also included random nouns and yeses. So that it sounds like this “red suitcase plastic bag if lucky check back horseshoe flight to Xian water bottle airline if lucky after 1 hour, yes. Yes, Sunglasses, yes?”
He reports this to me. I burst out laughing. Really appreciate that the flight attendants tried in English but the info was so hard to understand.
Unfortunately the board never updated. The checkin lines never posted the flight name, code, or anything to indicate it was checking in. Everything was word of mouth. And we didn’t have the Chinese to navigate a flight delay.
Over at another checkin counter, a massive crowd forms around an older man screaming and flailing his arms about at the checkin girl. That airline cancelled all flights for the day. He seems to be venting for the 75 people near him. Airport cops congregate around watching. Waiting to see what he does.
I can’t believe how long he keep berating the check in woman. It’s not her fault. And the violent swings of his arms. I think the cops are waiting for him to hit her. It continues for over an hour. Not sure how it ended actually.
OL and I alternated asking. At 1:30pm we relocated closer to the checkin counter and sat near a sign. For a while. At 2:45, I asked if flight checkin yet. They said no so OL heads to dumpling place to eat something. At 3:20 a guy runs up to his family next to us and rushes them out of there. Another flight is boarding.
While OL eats, I go check. Find out it’s our flight. I grab OL, pee quick(thank god for western toilets at Pudong Airport) and rush to check in with our luggage.
OL has his confirmation for flight. But when the checkin guy goes to check us in he says there’s a problem. Our confirmation code indicates we were not booked on this Shanghai airlines flight. No we were booked on another China Eastern flight which already took off.
OL and I look at each other like omfg no. Then we explain in English that we were booked on the 12pm flight. When it was cancelled China Eastern sent us over to Shanghai Airlines for their 2pm flight. This is the flight we are trying to get on that has been delayed for a while.
Guy becomes quiet. Gets on phone. Punches keys on computer finally looks up and says it’s okay. Prints our tickets and we see the boarding time is 3:30. We go through gate security and both get wanded. Like second base level wanding. Head to gate and see clock says 3:45. Rushing on people mover to get to gate.
But when we get there. No plane. No boarding. Attendant tells us flight is delayed and plane should arrive at 5pm. I announce, I need retail therapy. You sit here with the stuff. I go back to find snacks (pretzels, shortbread), water, and Haagen Dazs. 45 yuan for a scoop of green tea ice cream. 6.25$. Insane. But I need it.
5pm passes with no plane in sight. People start gathering at the gate as if they can summon the plane down by sheer willpower. Japanese girls with matching dresses annoy the shit out of me. Kids are perky after hours of flight delay. Grandpa naps in grandma’s stockings on seats across from us.