A Travellerspoint blog

Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box

- Radiohead

In the morning I woke to the televisions turning on with some pop star who looked like that girl from Smallville, singing a song that I swear I herd somewhere in my dream. We climbed down from our bunks and grabbed up the two fold out chairs and ate the snacks we bought before heading into the train station.

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But as you can see, it was kinda ugly outside, so I headed back to my tin box, hid under my really comfy covers, and went back to reading my book. Hours passed by, and it started getting even too cold for me to hide under my covers. Joe put on some pants (he had shorts on), and I put on layer after layer. Why was it so cold? Joe climbed down to get a snack at the table, and he called me down from my bunk to see for myself. It was the thing we had been running from since Colorado. But I guess it didn't really find us, we found it.

Recently Joe brought up an interesting idea about the saying a picture is worth a thousand words. He said that most of the time when you see a picture that wasn't taken by you, maybe have one word come to mind, sometimes two; "beautiful," "dark," "strange," "gross," just to name a few. Its only when its a photograph of a place you can remember what it actually looked like could a picture be worth around a thousand words. But a good writer can explain a scene to a person who has never seen what they have seen in a paragraph that would give the them greater depth into the imagery than any photograph ever could. So I guess it is a good thing that I only want you to think of one word when I show you these pictures.

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"Snow"

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Time to head back up to the covers.

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Several hours later I started to get nervous about how we were supposed to figure out which of the stop was ours (there were no overhead announcements). So Joe went in search for the answers, and as usual, we were saved by someone who could speak some english. He told Joe that we should be hitting there around 7pm, and on top of that he would come back to our cabin and tell us when our stop was next.

We were actually just sitting down to eat some spicy noodles from a prepackaged noodle bowl when Joe's friend came back to tell us we were the next stop. So we inhaled the noodles much quicker than we needed to (we forgot that the next station on a train usually meant at least an hour).

Getting off the train we followed everyone else down the stairs and through a tunnel that let out into the city of Jinan. The parking lot of the train station was big and empty, all except for this line of taxi cabs that stood between us and the rest of the city. We stood out apparently because every cab driver ran over to us saying "Hello? Hello?" We didn't know where we should go being that it was now after 9 o'clock at night. One guy who seemed to win the fight for our attention kept motioning with his hands in prayer against the side of his tilted head. "I take you to sleep." But then I spot a sign across the street and over a block that said hotel. "Only 10 Yuen! I take you to sleep for only 10 Yuen!" I tried to point out to him that I could see a hotel just across the street, but then his charades seemed to fail him. We finally just did the only thing you could, keep walking until they go away.

Crossing the street twice (dangerous as usual, most streets in China have at least 2 or 3 lanes each way (I guess it helps to build a major city from scratch, like the flip side of Europe) ours was a 4 lane and 6 lane-er), we made it to the hotel and Joe struggled to let them know what should have been apparent. We are tired, and would like a room please. Eventually they figured it out and asked for 100 (or so we thought). Quickly rethinking our race they asked for one more hundred. "Uh-aw" I told Joe (even though that was still only $30 to us). But I have seen that look one too many times, that look that says I could have charged at least double to these people, and this time, I wasn't giving in (helps when the person has a dress suit and acts nonchalant on rather than someone in raggedy clothes acting like if you bought from them it would make their week). When the woman behind the desk realized that I was asking for the money back and we were going to try a different hotel, she agreed to 100 yuan (works like a charm). Then another woman took us to our room and after unlocking the door, proceeded to leave. "Key!" I told Joe quickly. Then he proceeded to have a battle with the woman for who was best at dance dance revolution (I really need a thesaurus for the word charades). Eventually we figured out that she keeps all the keys for the hotel on her huge ring of a key chain, and if we wanted our own key it was an extra 50 yuan. Another example of how in China it is cheeper to pay a woman to walk around with the keys and unlock everyones rooms than to pay for a lost or stolen key.

So we dropped our stuff off and headed out for some dinner. There was a little restaurant with pictures (yes!) just next to our hotel, so we went there and Joe pointed at the pictures, and then when he noticed something other people were eating that he wanted... he pointed at that too. After dinner we decided that we should go ahead and buy the train ticked to Beijing now so we can make sure that we get a seat (in China they sell tickets even if there are no seats left). Heading back to the train station we realize that we don't have enough money to buy a train. On top of that, our ATM card was back in the room. So we tested out this system of this hotel of ours. No problem apparently. Then we walked down the street to the corner where there was a bank with a 24 hour ATM, and then it was back to the train station. This time we forgot the train schedule Ivy printed out for us. Joe kept trying to explain to the woman at the ticket office what train we wanted, but it was hopeless. So yeah, Joe was convinced that it was better to go back to the hotel and wake the poor woman with the keys than to stand on the train to Beijing for 3 hours. The second time was less of being not a problem, but no complaints.

Finally this time around we got the train tickets and made it back to the hotel, this time staying for the rest of the night.

Posted by - Rain 09:21

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