30th June 2014
So bit of a weird one. I’ll post this when I get an internet connection – but I am currently writing this from a hotel in Qingdao, China. Where is this place? I literally have no idea. I would Google it of course…but yeah…no internet connection. The reason I am here is that I have a FOURTEEN HOUR layover. FOURTEEN HOURS! Yeah, I didn’t book the flight – but that’s another story altogether…as you can probably work out, I am a little flustered at the moment!
Anyway, the flight from South Korea to China was actually pretty painless…well apart from the old man next to me who had the perfect three – bad breath, gas, and a fetish for belching…like honestly, there are well established rules when it comes to airplane travel, and emitting horrendously obnoxious odors from one orifice or the other, is definitely against the code…it’s terrorism of the nostrils, and should be addressed with the up-most seriousness.
Perhaps the air hostesses could add it to the safety bit at the start?
Ah, forgot to mention – some K-Pop superstar was on my plane, in the first class section – obviously. Doesn’t really mean anything to me…just another young Korean guy, with highlights and long earrings…but everyone else on the plane was going wild. In fact, even when we got to China and headed to baggage claim, you could hear the adoring Chinese fans screaming out in a wild hysteria. Waiting for just a peek of his perfectly applied eyeliner…I was ahead of him, and as I left the airport there were crazed screams upon seeing me…not sure who they thought I was, just err, a white guy? Your guess is as good as mine. Anyway, the white quickly switched to a much more red shade as I was overcome with my usual embarrassment in these situations…cue laughter and more clapping…I ran for cover.
That’s when I realized something. I was past security. I was under the impression that I would have to just wait around here till the next morning, but I had a number of taxi drivers pestering me non-stop:
“TACKSEE SIR, TACKSEE SIR, TACKSEE SIR. SIR! TACKSEE?”
I had forgotten all of the Chinese I had learned in 2012 (which was limited even then), and racked my weary brain for some words – I ended up having a game of charades in which I acted out a sleeping gesture…eventually the guy understood.
He led me out to the parking area, and we walked for what seemed like forever, we kept passing car after car – and every time I thought, “hmm maybe it is this one – NOPE. Hmm maybe it is this one – NOPE.” Until we eventually got to his vehicle. It was a (once) white rusty banger, that looked like it had been sitting in the same place since it was created in the 1980s. I was too tired to care. Instead I moved his gardening supplies and threw my bags in, before joining him in the front, he mumbled something and I remembered how to say yes in Chinese. He looked very confused, but started up the engine all the same.
He’ll get me to a hotel at least, that’s all I really need.
After a short drive through the dusty, tired roads (this is what China looks like for the most part outside of Shanghai) we came to the hotel. I was greeted by a short balding man, who seemed very happy to see me:
“MR.BEAN, MR. BECKHAM – YOU WILL GET THE HONEYMOON SUITE!”
I smiled as best as I could muster. He then ran off all of a sudden, leaving me with the bemused taxi driver and the leering eyes of the hotel receptionist. They both asked for an extortionate amount of money for their respective services, in Western terms it was just okay, but after living in China I knew the con was well and truly on. I decided not to make a fuss, and just paid anyway – I would have a bed soon. Soon I would be able to lie down and dream I was riding a giant marshmallow…soon…soon…
The man came back and waved me over to the elevator, as I followed he looked at me with a wide creepy grin…
“You want…you want errr…”
“Bed? Yeah please. I’m tired.”
“No…You want a Chinese girl, right?”
“Oh! Err, wow. Erm, no thank you…”
“You want one, I can tell…”
“I really don’t. Generous offer, but erm. No thank you.”
He looked back at me with disdain, as if I had just kicked his Grandma in the shins and slapped her with a fish. I didn’t mean to upset him, so did my best to comfort his bruised ego…
“It’s just I’m so tired, you know? But thank you.”
“I have some special ones for you…”
“Twenty years olllllddd-“
“Oh my-I’m good, honestly…is this my room?”
So yeah, I ran in, bolted my door, locked it, and put the chain on (isn’t it worrying that a hotel even has those kind of measures available? Says it all!), anyway behind my barricade I’m now surviving on some chocolate truffles one of my students gave me before I left…it’s only 7pm local time…this is going to be a loooooooooooong night.
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