Chongqing, China, Asia
I woke up this morning and grabbed some breakfast in the hostel. It was a much better night’s sleep in the single room than I had had in the dorm. It’s usually worth that little bit extra money to know you’re going to get a good night. I checked out of the hostel and went for a wander through the city center. These big cities are just so unappealing to me now, and in China it’s damn near impossible to get away from them. This city doesn’t appear to have many redeeming factors, just huge buildings everywhere you look.
I found a China Mobile store where they were able to sort my phone out so I will have internet on the boat. Not much, only 70MB, but at least I’ll be able to send some Whatsapps and check the Patriots score tomorrow. I have my priorities. I also got to an ATM so I could get the rest of the money to pay for my cruise. It was a little expensive, but I figured I would go for a really nice boat to get the best experience, boy was that a mistake!
They picked me up for the cruise at 6pm and brought me two minutes down the road to the dock. I had payed 2300 yuan ($360) for a four day/three night cruise. I’d been told that it was a four star boat and it is a foreigners boat, so almost all of the people on the cruise would speak English. I had booked a twin room, so I would be sharing with a stranger, and I was also told at the time of booking that it would definitely be an English speaking person. They wouldn’t put a westerner in with a Chinese person. I was very surprised when I got to the boat.
I was told when we were walking to the boat that I would most likely be put in with a Chinese man, because there weren’t any other westerners looking to share a room. But I could upgrade to a single room for 200 yuan ($31). I decided that the $31 was worth it to not be sharing a room with a man who could be really rude and disgusting, and that would ruin my trip. I had to pay the tour guide who drove me there in the taxi though, and not reception on the boat, so I think I got scammed out of 30 bucks. That wasn’t a great start.
It got much worse when I got on the boat only to find that their “four star” boat, is what any westerner would probably consider a two star. The floors inside and outside are covered with worn-out Astroturf, except for the rooms which have really dirty carpet in them. The rooms are small and basic, but that was to be expected on any boat, but these rooms are not nice. Nothing looks very clean, and the refrigerator in the room has had the plug cut off so you can’t even plug it in. Of course I found this out after I went out and bought some water and sodas for the four day trip. I was not impressed, but again, I just put this down to yet another Chinese disappointment.
I was on the boat about three hours before we embarked, so I had a walk around the boat. It’s only four levels, so it didn’t really take that long. None of the bars or lounges look any better than my room, so I can’t imagine I’m going to want to spend much time in there. I was hoping to see some other westerners hanging around on the boat, but there weren’t any. I mean none. Loads of Chinese people, no English speakers anywhere. After walking around for a good forty minutes without seeing anyone I could talk to, I decided to come back to the room and watch a movie.
I have tons of movies with me, so I thought I would watch something funny to get me in a better mood after the disappointment of this boat. I had a new Will Ferrell movie called “Everything Must Go”, and he always cracks me up, so it seemed like a perfect choice. Wrong. It was mega depressing. Of course I pick the only serious film he’s ever done where he plays a drunk whose wife kicks him out of his house on the same day he gets fired from his job. Yeah, it was a real pick-me-up. After that I thought I might as well go see what the view is like leaving Chongqing, and see if I can find any people to talk to.
The view was nothing special, and I walked around the boat four times, and never saw one other westerner on the boat. After sulking my way around the boat for over an hour, I decided I should just retire to my room for the night and hope I meet the other westerners at breakfast. As soon as I got back to the room a girl from the crew knocked on my door and could speak a few words of English. She informed me of my table number for my meals, and so I asked if I would be sitting with other English speaking people at the table. She said “yes, the three of you will be at table 12.” Three of us? Yup, there are only two other people on this boat of almost three hundred who speak English. I hope I like them. It’s going to be a LOOOOOOONG three days.