Published: August 21st 2009August 21st 2009
So here's what happened. I went on New Years holiday and so much junk happened that I just never got around to writing about it all. Yeah, i've been lazy about it leave me alone! So what's been happening? I finished the school year, went back to the USA and decided to come back to China for another year. whee!
So we will basically pick up like I was never gone and just start writing about junk. Aight so this time I came to China was probably one of the worst and most exhausting experiences i've ever had and it all started with some stupid bimbo in Orlando saying "Your bags are checked all the way to your final destination." Sweet I thought, now I don't have to worry about lugging all my crap through Guangzhou airport. And thus America has failed yet again in another thing category. In fact my bags were not checked all the way to my final destination, I was supposed to pick them up in Guangzhou. Thanks random bimbo in Orlando that obviously has no idea how anything works or even her on job. I should have suspected as much when it took her 10 minutes to give me my boarding pass after she had all my information. It was also pretty awesome how she only gave me one boarding pass. So every connecting flight I had to leave the airport and go back through the arrivals to actually get my boarding pass, meaning I had to go through security about 4 times. It was awesome with a laptop and 2 external hard drives that I had to remove every time.
So the plane rides were fine. LAX remains the worst and most useless airport. The only people worth anything there are the guys that stand outside giving people directions to the 4,000mile stretch of terminals that is the airport. Heaven forbid they construct an airport with a layout that makes sense, rather than just a straight line of nonsense that requires you to get on one of the 50,000 buses outside to accomplish anything. Last time I was there I made a mistake and got on the wrong bus and I ended up in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere. Anyway I arrived in the international terminal. Low and behold (as if I should have expected something better out of LAX) the entire terminal was under construction and the check-in counters were reminiscent of a job fair. So asking the woman who works there where is my airline (China Southern) she replied with a all knowing answer of "I don't know, ask the information desk." oh cool thanks. It's not like you work there or anything. Why the heck would you know where a airline is located? So I went upstairs and after consulting a sign, I found my desk.
The flight to Guangzhou was good. The plane was completely empty, so I had the entire row to myself. I slept for about 9 hours of a 14 hour flight. It was great. Guangzhou was boring and straight-forward. The girl at the check-in asked if I had bags to check, I said they told me my bags would be checked to Changsha. She said I had better get my bag and check it. At this point I kind of knew my bag would not come. But I had no time and the line for security was too long, so I hoped for the best and left. If I went back to find my bag I would have missed my flight. The plane to Changsha was cool. They put us on a bus and we drove for like 10minutes to a tiny airstrip with this plane that could only seat about 50 people. A baby in front of me was screaming so loud the entire hour long flight, all the passengers were getting angry, but apparently I was the only smart person who had music to listen to.
So in Changsha as I suspected my bag didn't come. so I went to the bag recovery place and luckily there was one girl who spoke English so she helped me out with a lot of junk. So I waited for about 6 hours in Changsha airport for my bags. It was great. And much to my surprise my phone also had no money on it, so I couldn't call my friend I was meeting or anyone else to ask for help. I just sat there waiting. After I got the bags I jumped on the bus to the train station. Once there I had to seek out a China Mobile so I could call my friend who I was supposed to be meeting. By this time it was about after 6pm. So there I was, lugging my heavy backpack, my satchel, and my 50lbs bag which the airport decided that they really didn't want to let me have anything easy that day, so they broke one of the wheels. So I was almost completely dragging the thing through Changsha in 95F weather. No joke it was at least that hot. The first China Mobile I got to they told me that they couldn't help because I bought my phone in Shaoyang. Awesome. So they pointed me in the direction to go which upon getting in that area, I noticed there were 4 China Mobiles within visibility of where I was standing. And before me was 8 lane traffic with a huge bridge of stairs leading over to each corner. So i'd have to climb up with all my crap, climb down, and pray that I got to the right China Mobile. Well....the first one wasn't the right one. So then I headed to where they said the next on was. All they kept saying was McDonalds. So I went to McDonalds which was in a shopping mall and was like wtf there can't be one here. So I asked one of the dudes working in there and he took me outside and actually pointed ot the right one. So I went there and paid and picked up my phone to call my friend and.....................the number he gave me didn't work. Awesome.
So there I was. In 95F weather, way too much crap to drag around, stuck in a big city I hate, all my friends that live there were not in the city at the time, and it was too late for a bus. My only hope was the train. So I went inside, and bought a ticket. My prayers were answered in that there was a train leaving that night, I didn't want to worry about a hotel, I just wanted to get to a city that I actually knew the area. The train left at 11pm, so I wouldn't get there until about 3 or 4am. No problem, I had a friend who after I texted, actually told me he would stay up late to pick me up at the train station. Not that I really needed him to, but it would have been nice. The only problem with the ticket.....it was standing room only. Now the last standing room only train I was on was horrible. It was exactly that, "standing room only" If you had anything else you were doomed on that train. So I was horrified. I had so much crap, I was just asking to get robbed and just have a experience which made suicide look like a pretty great option. So I went back into the ticket station to ask if they had sleeping cars, which it slipped my mind the first time. It was a waste of time because they didn't. The only real thing I had left to do was call my old girlfriend since she was from Changsha. So I texted her and she was the only person to help me. She called 2 of her friends there and sent them to come find me and put me in a hotel for the night. So I met them and we went to a really nice hotel that was right across the street from the bus station that I needed. So I passed out, very much obliged that I didn't have to go to Shaoyang that night, I was exhausted and any more bad things happening I don't know how I would have taken it. And I was scared to death of that standing room only train for 4 hours.
The next day I arrived in Shaoyang and met Ann, one of my students and immediately checked into a hotel which was cheap, about 60RMB per night. The room is exceptional for my needs. AC, TV, wireless that i'm leeching now, hot showers, nice hard bed which I like ^_^ etc. So it's pretty great, not that it matters since i'm only here to sleep.
So in Shaoyang I have been extremely busy which is great. Every morning I wake up at about 9am and whoever calls me first is who gets to hang out. So i've seen a lot of people and even gone to some new places and new people. The one thing that I made sure to do is visit my student who is in the hospital. My nickname for her was Xiao Zhu (Small Pig). She was one of my best students and she loved English, and one night she was getting off a bus, and she stepped off and a motorbike taxi hit her. She went flying and hit her head. She has been in the hospital for about 2 months now. This accident happened before I left, and I visited her the day after it happened. It was a real heartbreaking thing to see. She was unconscious since the accident and would not wake up for anyone, doctors, her parents, her classmates, anyone. So I walked in with some of her classmates and she was writhing in pain and screaming etc. Soon she calmed down and some students tried to talk to her to no avail. Then they told me to try to talk to her. So I went to her bedside and said "Hello....hello" And she immediately opened her eyes, although she struggled to do so. It took her awhile to find who was talking and where I was, but then she found me and could barely get out a "hi." After that she was talking to me pretty coherently. She understood she was in a hospital and she was in an accident and she was in pain. So she knew her situation wasn't good, the only problem was she had amnesia. She didn't know who I was, she didn't know her classmates, her parents, anyone. She only knew I was speaking English to her, so she woke up to see who it was. Before this she wouldn't even speak Chinese. I was the first person she woke up for and spoke to, and it was in English. I was also one of the first people she remembered. But before long after talking to her, she passed out again. And I talked to her again before I left, and she had no memory of talking to me 10 minutes earlier. It was incredibly sad, and her parents were so grateful that I came to visit her. But it was so amazing just to experience something like that. I've never really felt that important to someone at that level before. I came back to visit maybe 2 more times after that, and the next time she instantly recognized and remembered me as who I am. But, she didn't remember her classmates, or her best friends that I was with. Slowly as we were there she remembered their names and who they were, and it was really something to see. I can't imagine completely forgetting your best friend, and have them right in front of you, desperately trying to get you to remember them and you just can't remember. Then the joy when it suddenly clicks and they remember who you are. It was really something amazing to watch. So I came back to visit her and she is pretty good now. Apparently she has trouble with her short term memory and some small things and events that happened that aren't that important. So she has to go to Changsha hospital where it's better to get checked out. LUCKILY and how it should be, her and her family don't have to pay the hospital bills. It's all being covered by the company that runs the buses. But I am pretty sure only her best friends have visited her more than I have. You can imagine how highly her parents think of me. A teacher, let alone a foreign teacher, that has taken time out of his day to visit their daughter multiple times.
Anyway, in Shaoyang i've been busy busy busy. So i'll continue to be busy busy busy until I leave in a few more days. I plan to go to Yangshuo on about the 26th of August where I will learn where i'm going to teach. Right now i'm shooting for Huaihua, but to be honest it probably won't happen. Why? Because I want it to.