To get a tourist visa for China – you need a hotel reservation. Months ago, I booked some cheap one I found on a Chinese travel website thinking – we can always find something new between now and then, or, how bad can it be – we will save money! It was also close to where I used to live, so I figured it would be nice to be familiar with the area.
After approximately 29 hours of being awake and traveling, we finally arrived at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport. Immigration was a breeze, but our luggage took forever. Thank the Lord it showed up finally, and we went to find our way to a taxi.
I thought I wouldn’t be persuaded by the Chinese people trying to get me to pay exorbitant prices for their private cabs, and said I would just go wait in line for the official city taxi. Yea, well everyone had to take a taxi as public transport does not run all night in China. After looking at the hour long line for a taxi, I decided that it was worth the $20 or so to pay to stay out of that line.
Our smoky cab ride wasn’t as long as I expected. But when we got to the street, it took our cabbie awhile to find the unlit hotel. Golden Island Hotel. No receptionist, but after five minutes of the sleepy security officer yelling to the back, a nice, older Chinese lady appeared.
The lobby of the unlit Golden Island was probably what you would expect from a $35 a night room.
The only Chinese I understood from her was “mei you” which means “do not have” when I tried to show her our reservation info. After 15 minutes, paying her for the week plus a deposit, giving her our passports, and some teary eyed tired blonde girl being completely overwhelmed, we got one key and headed down the hall to find an elevator and our room.
The room is huge! And clean! And two bathrooms!?! Granted – figuring out how a remote to a heater worked when all the buttons are in Chinese, took awhile and some more tears. All I wanted was a bed, and I finally had one. Sleep was slightly more elusive.
In the morning, John woke up and knowing that his phone was still on Seoul time told me that it was 9am. So I woke up as well. An hour later, I realized it was only 8am. Confused, John and I realized he had thought we were an hour ahead of Seoul time, when in reality we were an hour behind. Ah timezones!
While John showered, I went to ask the front desk about getting hot water. We had two ceramic cups and tea bags but nothing to heat water. Because the only thing worse than extreme jet lag and little sleep, is extreme jet lag, little sleep and no caffeine. A couple boxes of Starbucks Via in my suitcase were my emergency plan! Also, I wanted to inquire about wi-fi (which I thought was available). No wi-fi, only in the lobby.
When I tried to explain that I want something to heat water, my receptionist friend from the night before seemed to think I was saying, we did not have hot water in the room – like for a shower. She sent a maintenance man upstairs with me, and I managed to get him to get me an electric kettle to heat water. When I realized there was no hair dryer – I decided such luxuries just weren’t worth the fuss.
After he left, John informed me – we have no hot water. At this time, I began to realize that maybe my friend downstairs understood what I did not. There is no hot water. She had typed into her computer something in Chinese and it read, “Opens later.” It came to me that the word for turning on – as in to turn on water – is the same as open in Chinese. Perhaps you need to wait until after 9am to shower in a Chinese hotel?
Nope – I waited until 10am today and enjoyed a freezing shower.