Paper football, very clever.....YOU kickoff!
Where was me again? Oh yeah.....OK, so, get to fresh and new Hotel 168 at midnight. First thing I notice when I git outta the cab is it's, like, ninety degrees out and imagine thee most humid place you've ever been.......multiply that by 10.
I get my room key and head up to my room. First notice a couple things:
- There is no fourth floor.
- Nor any hotel room with the number four in it, although EVERY room begins with the number 8, regardless which floor it's on.
- But where our Chinese economic overlords are far more advanced than us Yanks is in terms of energy usage in hotels. Like, you have to put your door key in a slot next to the door to get any electricity in the room at all. Very unusual to see, being an American who (like most, if not all Americans) is used to just leaving all lights on and the A/C cranking whilst I'm out of the hotel room....
- The bed was hard (like I've read on EVERY complaint in EVERY web travel site from EVERY American about EVERY Chinese hotel), but it didn't really bother me. I'm the sort who can sleep on anything, through anything, and often, with anything. Weird circular bed, with illuminated porno-style round mirror on ceiling. WTF?? Heh, heh.....those randy Chinese.....
But Guangzhou was very difficult. NOBODY, I do literally mean NOBODY spoke English, and the "Grunt-and-Point" that worked so well for me in Krakow '92 wasn't making much headway this trip, as the Chinese have rather unusual social mores, one of which is - don't point. Also, another being do NOT stick your chopsticks straight up vertically into a bowl of rice!
I fucked up on borth of these counts. People ignored me and smiled - "Dumb Yankee Imperialist Dog" they must have figured.......
It was hard, I was freaking!! I only wanted to figure out HOW to refill my pre-paid China Unicom SIM card and buy a train ticket to Nanning! NOBODY spoke English. People here were amazing....they kept trying and trying to help me in theee most friendly way, but sadly couldn't help me!!!!!!! I had never felt so helpless in my life, literally, I mean that!
Eventually, the front desk staff phoned up one of their buddies who spoke passable English, and then they got a staff member (I don't THINK he was a concierge, because this is allegedly a budget-level hotel) who physically walked me to a travel agent, where someone in the crowd overheard us and DID speak passable English, and I got my train ticket!! Then, on the High Street, I ran into that same concierge-like person again!! He helped me get a new SIM card (China Unicom = shit.....China Mobile = good, I would later learn), and when I tried to toss him 50 Yuan for all he's done for me, he refused to take it!!
Hotel 168 Front Desk staff
It's really weird when people here try to help me!! It's like EVERYTHING takes a committee of six or so people. I offer to buy 'em all a beer (pronounced "P.G.O." - and it goes for fiddy cent for a tin of Pabst Blue Ribbon).....but they all refuse anything from me......it's weird. So I walk around Guangzhou smiling like a total fucking idiot ('nother HUGE Chinese mannerism: Smile A LOT!) literally mumbling "shey shen" (Thank You) and "P.G.O."
No wonders EVERYBODY in this city stares at me........I literally mean everybody! It does get kind of uncomfortable after a while......but I'm learning to deal with it. I just stare right back at them and smile.
I have a feeling that this could have me put in prison.....
Anyways......I gotta carefully repack my overstuffed knapsack and head out on an eight-hour train trip. I'll write more from the train....