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Archive for June 2011

We checked out three rental places yesterday, the first in Burnaby and the others in Vancouver.

No. 1 was a basement suite, not too bad, spacious enough. I could work with that kind of space. Kevin wasn’t thrilled with the look of the house when we pulled up – kind of old and shabby. The deal-breaker, though, was the landlord’s sixteen-year-old stepson sleeping downstairs every night.

No. 2 was alright, a ground-level suite. Nice living room. Rather lacking in shelving units and storage space. My biggest qualm is that the kitchen is so dinky.

We were quite pleased with no. 3, except … no laundry. I don’t mind not having a dryer or dishwasher, but I’d much rather not use a laundromat or wash clothes by hand. Such a nice place, too, tant pis.

We just ran into Tyrone and his parents at the Beijing airport. I’d put this on Twitter, but China blocks Twitter.

I used to not be able to sleep in public places. Then the commute to and from UBC taught me how to doze, half-awake, on the bus. Now I’ve power-napped at the airport. I know what it’s like to wake up with a mouth seemingly full of fuzz because I haven’t brushed my teeth. And to feel like I’m covered in a layer of grime.

Anyway, to continue the saga, yesterday we line up for three hours, luggage in tow, to get ticket information for our flight to Vancouver. Actually, I fall asleep on a lounge chair. When I wake up, Kevin’s still in line. Near the front, though. Then he’s at the desk, except some Asian ladies are trying to cut in. He’s had enough and tells them off. They don’t even leave until others in the line start yelling at them too.

Tsk, Chinese manners. World class, I tell you.

We get in another, shorter line for hotel information. They tell us to go to door 11 on the first floor. When we get there it’s crowded and nobody knows anything – which hotel, what bus to take, which line to stand in, who’s in charge. Finally Kevin manages to get the name and number of a hotel. It’s chaos at the bus station, so we line up for a taxi.

When we get in a taxi, the driver gives us a blank look and says he doesn’t know where the hotel is. We get in another taxi. Driver doesn’t look thrilled. He tells us our destination is too close to the airport – not profitable enough of a ride. So he charges us double.

At the Rosedale, the manager says there are no vacancies. But we called to confirm that Air China had booked off a block of rooms for us, we say. He maintains there are no rooms. A group of Asian men start spazzing and smoking in the no-smoking lounge and insulting the hotel employees. So when a room opens up (wonder how that happened) he gives it to us.

A shower has never felt so good.

Today, the first taxi we flag for the trip back to the airport takes one look at our luggage and claims it won’t fit in the car. Then he drives off. Kevin secures one by offering to pay extra. Seriously, what use are taxis in Beijing if they won’t take you where you need to go?

So we’re at the airport again, hoping to fly out at 11:30PM. If and when we arrive I will kiss Vancouver soil, I swear.

I’ve done my fair share of travelling over the past three years. This is hands down the worst experience ever.

Our first flight from Taipei to Hong Kong on Eva Air was delayed by a little over an hour due to bad weather in Hong Kong. Our second flight from Hong Kong to Beijing was supposed to leave yesterday at 5:30PM.

We boarded late, waited on the plane for six hours without taking off (they fed us dinner though). Finally the flight was cancelled, rescheduled to 8:30AM this morning.

It was long past midnight by then, not really worth booking a hotel. Besides, other passengers with iPhones reported no vacancies nearby. We spent a torturous night at the airport, half on the floor and half on those scratchy waiting chairs.

Early in the morning we checked in again, waited at the gate for hours past the appointed boarding time, then were loaded on buses … except the buses didn’t move. People were angry by then, like, mutinous. Enough to fight their way off the buses and back into the waiting area. Technical difficulties with the plane, they told us.

Lots of raging lunacy ensued.

Later they boarded us again. There were a few more hours of delay before we managed a 2:30PM takeoff.

It was chaos all over again upon arrival in Beijing, with other flights out being cancelled and nobody knowing what to do with us. Air China dished out 400 rmb compensation and promised us a hotel for the night. We waited in a long, slow-moving line for three hours to obtain ticket information for our flight home to Vancouver. Got shuffled from location to location, eventually took a taxi.

Now we’re at the Rosedale, hoping to catch a flight out tomorrow. At first they even said they were fully booked, no rooms … but I’m starting to go cross-eyed. Checking out.

Aside from a few of Kevin’s relatives, so far in Taiwan we have met up with

  • his player friend
  • his gangster friend
  • his skater friends
  • his ex
  • his primary school friend
  • his elementary school classmates

They’ve all treated us so well. They’ve taken us shrimping, to lunches and dinners, to tea houses and cafés, to night markets, on motorcycle rides.

His ex has two adorable young sons. His player friend is an inline skating instructor. Two of his skater friends have motorcycles when most of the two-wheelers on Taiwan’s roads are scooters. His gangster friend sells popcorn, breeds parrots, and builds violins.

It never fails. Whether vacationing, camping, hiking, honeymooning … I always end up with the most mosquito bites. In Cancun in 2008 I got one on my foot that caused it to swell up like a hobbit foot. I could barely fit into my flip flop.

We’ve gotten a bit lazy camera-wise. In China David was taking a ton of video clips, with high aspirations of piecing together an MV. Now he hardly ever has the camera on him when we’re out.

Maybe it’s the heat. It seems the Zhou clan (at least this generation thereof) has a low tolerance for high temperatures. It makes me sluggish. And when we pause on a street corner to figure out directions David beelines for the shade and I’m inclined to yell, “CAN WE STOP TO THINK SOMEWHERE WITH AC?” Kevin definitely has us beat on this one.

Posted on: 16 June 2011

Sit in the top storey of a double-decker bus.

WIN 002. Crossing an item off your bucket list the day after you thought to add it.