Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hotels and Hostels 

Last night when I checked into the hotel, they told me that they would need to hold my passport until I checked out. I refused (of course). At first they told me that I could not stay there. It was awkward, because it was getting late, but I will sleep in the streets before I will surrender my passport to a complete stranger. I think they could see that. Harry was with me and he told them that I would be leaving in the morning, so they settled for a photocopy. I am not sure what the big deal was, because I have never had a hotel ask me that before. Harry told me that this hotel was not legally certified to house foreigners. But if that was the case, I would think they would not want to even see my passport, because they wouldn't want a record that I had stayed there. So I'm confused. But I am not confused at all about the inappropriate nature of their demand. Never give up your passport.

This morning, I told them I was wanted to stay another night, but they said that I would have to give them my passport until I checked out. I decided to check out and go to the Captain Youth Hostel. I was getting on the subway, and was just picking up my bags from the scanner, when the security guy stopped me and asked me if I had a knife. I told him I didn't and he asked me to open my computer bag. He saw my Bible, said "Shenjing (Bible)," and let me go.

I'm still curious about that, though. I can't imagine what could have made the guy watching the monitor think I had a knife, unless they saw the little pair of scissors that I usually carry in my backpack. I think he should have been a little more persistent with the guy right before me. He asked that guy if he had a knife, accepted his answer, and turned to me. I think the other guy had the knife.

When I got to the People's Square station, I met a couple young people from India, who asked me if I knew where the Phoenix Youth Hostel was. I told them I did not. But I offered to try and help them find it, because they said it was supposed to be right near the square, and I figured we could go out there and ask a few people. But they said they had information on their laptop. After they left, I started thinking about it, and decided to stop at a coffee bar so I could open my laptop and check it out. Turns out the Phoenix hostel is not on the China youth hostel list, which probably means it is not a licensed Hosteling International hostel. It came right up in Google, but the problem with those listings is that they all have exclusive agreements. So they don't give you the phone number. This time it didn't matter. The street address was all I needed, because I was sitting right on the square.

I walked down the street to take a look at the place. It's new and small and simple, but that's actually good. I like simple youth hostels. Staffed by eager smiling young people, excited about being able to practice their English with so many foreigners. Helpful, and friendly. This place is not as fancy as the Captain Youth Hostel, but the Captain Youth Hostel is a bit of a rip off, and you get tired of that after awhile. The youth hostel had a Halloween party tonight. I was tired, and not in the mood for coming up with a costume, so I went as Santa Claus. At least, that's what everyone called me.

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