The Great Bubble Wrap Adventure

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July 4th 2011
Published: July 4th 2011
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Metro's ATMMetro's ATMMetro's ATM

Thank goodness I realized I was out of cash before we got to the Mall. And that I knew where the Metro cash machine was. We didn't see a bank the rest of our trip although I am sure there must have been one somewhere close.
Editor's comment

Apologies to subscribers who were sent part of this under separate cover. There is additional text and some new pictures if you have the patience to read through it all...

The beginning of the end

We have started the Big Pack prior to returning to Canada. Dianne decided she wanted some bubble wrap. After reviewing the various entries in the school email system and having had several conversations with people ”in the know”, she decided she wanted a roll of bubble wrap that was 1.2 meters wide and as long as necessary.

She heard about a wholesale place that had “half a roll”, about 70 meters. This should be more than enough and we could sell the excess to other movers. Now, how to get it from the wholesaler to the boys’ campus apartments? Hmmmmm, ah yes, let’s have Peter go and get it. I spent a couple of hours trying to Google Map the location but had no luck. Sigh.

Outward bound

Armed with instructions in Chinese (including a backup plan of written instructions for cab drivers) outlining what I needed, I was missing only one thing. What do all the students
Life saving cabLife saving cabLife saving cab

We still don't know how to take the bus TO the Mall. But this guy was very cheerful, especially when we tried to steal his next customer's bubblewrap!
have when they come to ask a question in the office? Oh yes, a friend for moral support. As it was school day, I enlisted the able support of Lesley, another non-working spouse who knows lots of Chinese words and can even pronounce some of them properly.

Just before the appointed hour, the skies darkened, the wind rose and it started to rain. Thunder and lightning added to the sense of gloom I felt as we prepared to leave. But half an hour later, the skies cleared and the mission began.

The instructions said: Take the Qinggui to Xiaolubiao (Metro/IKEA) station. Take the 613 bus to Lubo Bridge. Get off the bus and the Lubo Plastic Mall is across the street. Go to stall 159 and ask for Miss Xie. How could we go wrong?

As we were leaving the Qinggui station, Lesley commented that she must get her money out. I wondered why she wanted money as you need a card to get off the train. Yikes! I forgot to get some cash from the school ATM! She was already thinking of the bus fare we needed. Luckily, Metro has an ATM and that solved the
Lvbo Plastic MartLvbo Plastic MartLvbo Plastic Mart

The door to the Mall. You can tell it is the Mall because the name is above the door. Note the spelling of the name. It is pronounced Lubo (as in the French 'tu')

Well, solved THAT problem. The new problem was where to find the 613 bus stop, not to mention which direction we should go. After all, we had no idea where this “Lubo Bridge” was. While we were standing at the curb pondering this new situation, a cab pulled up to offer us a lift. This never happens when we are trying to find a cab. I showed him the instructions written in Chinese and he immediately smiled and indicated we should hop in. We did.

In this context, a "bridge" turns out to be a highway interchange. The Xianglujiao Bridge interchange is so weird that I thought we would use the whole 8 kuai drop charge just getting to the other side. As I had no idea where Lubo Bridge was, I had no idea which way we were going. However, in minutes he pulled up in front of a building and indicated this was the Mall. And the fare was only 11 kuai! Wow!

The Lubo Plastic Mall

Not only that, but there was a lady standing there with our bubble wrap! How did they do that? We had told them we would be
More LPMMore LPMMore LPM

The next section of the building. In case I ever wanted to go there again!
there about 10:30 but this was indeed service above and beyond. We jumped out of the cab and examined the bubble wrap. It wasn’t quite as advertised and was in two sections. This wasn’t going to be easy to fit into the cab along with the two of us. After a brief discussion, mostly in pantomime, we discovered she wasn’t “our” lady. She was just some poor gal who was trying to get somewhere with two big packs of bubble wrap and was accosted by two insane foreigners. All she wanted was our cab!

But we were at the right place. We spent a few minutes reconnoitring the area for the 613 bus stop. There it was. And, talk about “Aha” moments, it’s “Lvbo Bridge”, not “Lubo bridge”. The name is actually Lübo but often “ü” is written as “v”. No wonder I couldn’t find it on the Internet! On returning home, I found it is only 3.8 km from Xianglujiao, according to Google Maps. We could have walked there! Well, in theory, anyway.

The inside of the Mall is pretty much what you would expect: a series of small cubicles filled with an incredible assortment of stuff.
Miss Xie wrapped up in her workMiss Xie wrapped up in her workMiss Xie wrapped up in her work

She did a really good job on packaging the bubble wrap. An interesting question. What do you wrap bubble wrap in? Sort of like, what's another word for Thesaurus.
It’s a wholesale mall so there is quite a bit of clutter. Each stall is numbered just like at Erqi (the tailor market in Dalian) except the numbers don’t fall into as well-defined a pattern. We tracked down 159 and showed the lady in the stall the instructions we had been given. She had no idea what we were talking about. She talked to the lady across the hall in a rather animated conversation. A quick phone call and a third lady walked up with a big smile on her face. Miss Xie! With the help of one of the workers, our half roll appeared encased in the rattiest plastic bag I have seen for a while. There were many holes in it but they disappeared under about 5 pounds of packing tape that Miss Xie used to secure our load. A twist tie on the top and the only thing left was to pay! She wanted exactly what I thought it should cost so we were on our way. No more than 10 minutes. Unbelievable!

Homeward bound

We are fairly used to being stared at but today we gave folks their money’s worth: two waiguoren walking along
The other helpful workersThe other helpful workersThe other helpful workers

We aren't sure who works for who around here but they were all very helpful.
carrying a huge red plastic bag. The 613 bus pulled up and Lesley jumped on and paid for both of us. Oops. I could get the bag in the door but not past the cash box. The driver laughed and signalled that I should get off and get back on through the back door which is much wider. Off to Xianglujiao station!

As we rumbled down the fairly busy road, we pondered how we were going to know when to get off. Metro and IKEA are pretty big and colourful so we weren’t too worried. When they appeared, we bailed. Hmmmm. We are on the wrong side of a four lane, very busy road. At a small break in traffic, we bolted for the other side. People actually slowed down for us to get across safely. Now it was a simple matter to walk to the Qinggui which was about 2 long blocks away.

We managed to get through the turnstiles by each carrying one end and lifting the whole thing over the gates. Getting on and off the Qinggui can be a bit of a challenge due to people pushing their way on to get the seats
Are we there yet?Are we there yet?Are we there yet?

Gotta love standing on the Qinggui for an hour. Almost home!
but, with this big package, we had no trouble. In Jinshitan, we decided to wait until everybody had gone through the turnstiles before trying to negotiate them ourselves. There were plenty of cabs but we opted to walk back. The bag seemed light by this time.

Dianne was home for lunch and very impressed with our success. About 3.5 hours door to door. Considering that two of those hours were spent riding the Qinggui, we were pretty happy with our adventure. The cappuccinos were a nice treat even if I had to make them myself.

The rest of the story

I sent this story to a Chinese colleague who recently moved to another city. Her reply in part:

You are a great adventurer!!! Even I could not find the store. I recognized where it should be after I saw the pictures. There is some wrong information. I don't think the bus 613 is a station in Xianglujiao station. At the Dalian train station, there is a station for 613 but it's also difficult to find. Anyway, you could find it even though it's hard to find, and even with wrong information... I told your story to Sandy who had been in Dalian for 5 years. She said she could not find it, didn't know where Lvbo is or where to take 613... We think you are amazing. You can do many things even though you don't speak Chinese. We cannot do many things even though we do speak Chinese. China will miss you, one more talent gone.

This is praise indeed coming from the person who we consider the Miracle Worker because she always seemed to be able to get done whatever we needed done.

Now the packing began in earnest. Dianne used copious amounts and we sold off different amounts to other teachers who are returning home. When we parted with the last of the roll I realized we had charged less than the going rate for the excess but recovered more

We arrived home safe and sound.
than we paid for the “half roll”. Our portion was “free”. Bonus.

The crates are all packed and have left the campus. They show up again in Canada around the 20th of July. We just hope they are still in one piece.

(scroll way down to see the last pictures. The new TravelBlog format has a few oddities, in my opinion).

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


Ready to rock and rollReady to rock and roll
Ready to rock and roll

Well, at least roll. Seventy meters is a lot of bubble wrap! We are planning on sharing with other staff members who are also heading off on new adventures.
A crate ideaA crate idea
A crate idea

Ship all our stuff home. It's amazing how much stuff you can accumulate. And we sold off tons of stuff!
Crate AlleyCrate Alley
Crate Alley

You get a 1 cu meter crate after two year's service. An extra 1 cu meter for each additional year. And I could get 1 cu meter as a non-teaching spouse. I didn't.
We were lucky!We were lucky!
We were lucky!

We only had to carry our stuff about 100 paces to our crate. People on the girls' campus had their crates on the boys' campus and had to rent trucks!
Very interestingVery interesting
Very interesting

There are lots of little children on the boys' campus this year and they are all very interested in the packing process.
Ready to goReady to go
Ready to go

Ours is the one with the duct taped labels. The bigger crates at the back contain antique three wheeled motor-cycles! No telling what people accumulate over here.
Easy does itEasy does it
Easy does it

Our case goes on the truck. The fork lift managed to pull a piece off the back of our crate. We hope they make it. We had great weather for loading. A monsoon hit the day after the crates were supposed to leave by ship.
Ready for the tie downs.Ready for the tie downs.
Ready for the tie downs.

We really didn't want to watch them leave. We assume they know what they are doing.

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