11.05.2014 - 12.05.2014
Three nights ago we ended up at Guangzhou airport with me about to pack in my years trip around the world, one month in, for a plane ticket straight back to London! And here's why...
Everything was going smoothly in Yangshou when we decided to purchase 2 over night sleeper coach tickets to Guangzhou. This worked out to be the most time saving and economic way of travelling to our next destination. We were informed that the sleeper coach would leave at 9pm and arrive at 6am, just in time to catch the first tube to our hostel in Guangzhou.
We were to arrive at the travel agent at 8.30pm and they would take us to the coach. All was going fine, we got on the coach, found 2 spare beds (I got lucky with a double bed at the back, had to share with a small Chinese guy, but that was fine). And settled in for the night. The bouncing of the bus was quite soothing as I lay there contemplating, listening to Nora Jones and dozing. Quite pleasant actually.
BUT THEN..... At 2am, I am startled by the bus driver making his way down the bus shouting GUANGZHOU GUANGZHOU at us. We didn't understand what was going on as we weren't due into Guangzhou until 6am... Or so we thought. After the bus driver woke everyone up, he found an English speaker on the bus to come and explain to us that we were at our destination! WTF!! It's 2am, it's pitch dark, and it's in the middle of nowhere! And nobody else was getting off the bus!!
Next thing we knew we were standing on this dodgy dark street with our bags by our feet and our coach driving into the horizon! Well you can imagine what was going through my head! This is it! I'm going to be kidnapped, and sold for slavery!! Oh god! Oh god! Oh my f***ing GOD!!
We were near a toll station and I saw a woman working there so we headed for her. I though that would be the safest option. Of course she didn't speak any English, why would she. As we speak to one other in English and Chinese, getting nowhere, along comes a male toll worker. He seems nice so I trust him. He didn't speak any English either, why would he! But we managed to get him to understand that we wanted a hotel. (All those charades finally came in handy!) He points us in the direction of a very dark alley surrounded by a pack of very scary looking men! I walked about 20 meters and said to Jon 'there is no way in hell I'm going down THAT ally way!' I will just sit here at the toll station until daylight. It's only 4 hours or so. On concrete!! 'At least it is relatively safe here'. OR until a car comes through the toll with a nice looking white family with 2.4 children.
So we head back to the toll station, by this point I am in a right state! I drop my bags to the concrete floor and plonk myself down whilst crying my eyes out. The two Chinese toll workers must have thought, what have we got here!! And are we lumbered with these two for the night?!
There was me preparing for a long hard night when a taxi driver sees his opportunity to make an easy buck, comes up to us, sees the state of me, and speaks to Jon. Now from past experiences we know that taxi drivers in China have no idea where any location is, so trying to get him to take us to our hostel would be nigh on impossible. Then I had a brainwave! Because at that very moment I was wishing I was on a plane back to the UK, THE AIRPORT I blurted out! He has GOT to know where that is! And we know that airports are always open and safe places to be. 180 Yen he said it would cost us. That's about £18. I wasn't having that, I wasn't going to get ripped off just because I was a foreigner, who couldn't speak the language, in a place I don't know, in the middle if the night.... Anyway, we managed to get him down to 100 yen. Jon and I have this great little way of getting taxi prices down and it always works! Jon haggles and then tells me the price, I say and abrupt NO, the driver sees that I'm not one to be messed with and then we agree on a reasonable price.
In hindsight, in the situation we were in, I was probably not really in a position to haggle! (I told you I was crazy!)
Anyway we get in the cab and about half an hour later we reach the airport. Not before I tell the taxi driver to turn down his ridiculous music. FACT: the Chinese can not sing!!
For a half hour taxi ride at half two in the morning, I think £10 is a very good deal! Maybe 180 Yen was appropriate after all!
As soon as I get into the airport I head straight to the 5 star airport hotel to get a room and use the wifi to book the next flight home! After the hotel quoting me over £100 for the night, I decide against the room and set up camp on the sofa with the cleaners and made a b-line for Skype. Grandads on line, thank god!!! I call him up, I'm in a right state! 'What am I doing here? What have I got myself into? How did you manage to get through 81 years of LIFE!! I wish I was eating cheese and drinking wine on your couch right now. Blah blah blah.
Grandad knows exactly what to say to make me feel better and he put everything into perspective when he reminded me that he grew up in the war hiding in bomb shelters for dear life! And then he proceeded to take the mick out if me as he always does!
Thanks Grandad, you're the best!
So instead of booking the first flight back home, I caught up on some BBC Iplayer and waited in the hotel lobby until the underground opened and looked for a very large bottle of brandy!