Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Minnie has been so nice to me the past couple days. The youth hostel really was full, but she managed to find a cheap hotel for me. At a nice one, too. When I first came to China, "cheap hotel" usually meant an old, run down place in a bad neighborhood that wasn't supposed to accept foreigners. But recently, I have started to see these new places that are clean and new, but come with a number of very tiny rooms for a bargain price. Because of the standards of cleanliness, they are also approved for foreigners. The price isn't quite as good as a youth hostel, but not that bad. The rooms don't come equipped with broadband, but they do have a few computers in the lobby for patrons to use. I wasn't looking forward to that--I'm spoiled, I guess. If I use a computer in a lobby to check my email, I have to go to the web sites for my email accounts one at a time and log in. I am used to just opening up Outlook, and watching it all come in automatically. I don't like web email. But it's not just that. My files are not readily accessible if I use a strange computer. So, when I got to my room, I did what I always do in a new place. I opened my computer and did a search. By God's good mercy, someone in the neighborhood had an unsecured router, so I have been able to use the Internet from my room.

But I have had lots of trouble getting a ticket. As soon as I got in on Tuesday, I went to the ticket window to try to buy a sleeper ticket to Beijing. No luck. Minnie mentioned that she had sometimes been able to find cheap air tickets to Shandong, so I got the idea of going to visit some friends who live there. Shandong is not that far from Beijing. But when I checked, the place where they live is quite a distance from the city Minnie mentioned. This morning, I decided to go to the other train station, and I was able to buy a sleeper ticket to a town not far from where my friends live in Shandong. When I got back to the hotel, there was a message from Minnie telling me that the next available ticket to Beijing is one from Shenzhen on the 8th of August. She urged me to go and get one right away. I called her and told her that I had a ticket to Shandong Province. Hard sleeper tickets are not expensive. So basically, I paid for my trip to Guanzhou by doing this. The problem is that when I get off the train on Sunday, I will not be home. I will be somewhere in the middle of Shandong Province. We'll just have to wait and see if that turns out to have been a good idea.

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