Traveling is never straight forward in China. We had to go directly to the train station after work, as we had booked our tickets with only a short amount of time to get there. We wanted one of the chinese teachers (CT) to call us a cab so we’d have one waiting right at 6:00pm, but like all things in China calling a cab turned out to be much more complicated then expected. In order to call a cab in china, it turns out, you must have a specific app to call, book, and pay with. You can’t just call the cab with your phone and pay them in cash. Anyways after a lot of confusion we found a way.
The four hour train ride went by fast. I had made a uni-mart run (our local convenient store chain) after my last demo, and had stalked up on snacks, food, beer, and wine. With that and Nate’s tablet freshly filled with movies we were riding in style! “Despicable Me II” kept us busy through the first few hours, and I slept through the rest of the trip, shifting from one awkward position to the next. Before I knew it Nate was shaking me awake and dragging me off the train. First impression of Shanghai: so many white people! They’re everywhere! Makes me jumpy.
Fortunately we managed to catch the last subway train, and sat waiting for our stop to be announced. It never was. The subway train careened passed Nanjing E rd without even slowing down. It continued passed three more “little dots” on the map before it finally came to a halt. Cab it was. We were too tired and grumpy for anything else. We consoled each other by saying that in 30 min we’d be snug and warm in bed with a roof over our heads and room to stretch out our legs. How wrong we were. Half an hour found us not tucked beneath warm covers, but instead arguing with an inept hostel worker that spoke no English and kept shoving a paper in our face that said “Fauke, you come too late, gave away your room.”
“That is not us.” Nate insisted for the fifth time.
“It’s Wynands. Wynands.” I added pointing to my reservation code, “This is what we were sent in the E-mail.”
No number was typed into the system to look up our booking, instead a man with poor English speaker was called over to tell us there were no rooms.
“We made reservations a week ago online. This is the code. This is the date. We booked four people, two of them are already here.” I shoved my travel guide in his face and pointed to the highlighted and the scribbled down number.
“You can sleep on the couch,” was the response after a long exchange of Chinese.
“We are not sleeping on the couch. We want a bed in a room, like we booked a week ago.”
Eventually “No more rooms” turned into “We have a four person mixed dorm with two beds, but no room key.” They wanted us to leave our passports overnight at the front desk, which I, being grumpy and not at all happy with their hospitality, launched into an argument about it. Hostels are not supposed to hold onto passports, they are supposed to photo copy them and give them back. Eventually I relented hoping they’d be returned to us as promised come morning.