Waking up in the Wrong Bed

Trip Start Jun 05, 2011
Trip End Feb 28, 2013

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Where I stayed
Changfa Ludian
What I did
15 hours on a Hard Sleeper

Flag of China  , Jilin Sheng,
Friday, July 1, 2011

They held everyone back in the waiting hall until 15 minutes before train K7378 was due to depart. The nun got priority but the rest of us had to elbow our way to the front. When everyone else starts to jostle and push, we feel compelled to do the same. In our car we got Michelle's pack on the luggage rack. There was no room for Dave’s. (We should have tried harder to get in first!) He tossed it on his top bunk, 6 feet off the ground. The top bunk had only 28 inches of headroom so sitting up in bed is impossible unless you are severely vertically challenged. We settled for the flip down seat in the aisle until we were ready to turn in. Our compartment was also next to the smelly bathroom. Between the smokers who stand by the door to smoke and the pissy odor of the toilet, we were not thrilled with our accommodation. 350miles (560km) in 17.7 hours!

Two friendly Chinese couples were sitting on the bottom beds jabbering away. They tried to include us in the conversation and did charades to communicate. Their dialect sounded different, very different, not as tonal, perhaps even Korean we thought but when we asked, they told us they were Chinese.. Later, near dinner time, their tour guide  came by to provide their dinner, cup-o-soup noodle bowl and a mystery meat sausage. One of the guys appeared to be displeased but did not object. But he did not eat it either. His comrades seemed to be enjoying their meals. We crawled to our cubby holes on top and fell asleep. We woke often in the hot, smoky, stinky air that rose to the top. They had turned the fans off and kept the windows closed. Evidently, everyone else was cold. 4AM rolled around. The sun came up as did all passengers. What is this? We thought we would arrive in Baihe at 5am. Then find out it’ was another 4 hours hence. Go back to sleep everyone!

Baihe station is a few km from the middle of town. The center is big but the area around the train station has hotels, restaurants, and small stores, everything we will need. We followed the walking instruction in the LP down a small dirt alley to our simple spartan guesthouse. 100 RMB ($15.50). The cheerful woman who owns the place with her husband welcome us. It was still early and we find here in China they let us check-in when the room is cleaned, even if it is 9am. A load of Chinese students checked in to the hotel. They were off to the mountain and asked us (in English) if we would like to join them. We were too tired and grumpy from a poor nights sleep and declined. We would take the 6am shuttle to the mountain the next morning.

We went back to the restaurant we passed on our way to the guesthouse. They had helped us find the right alley leading to our guesthouse. They were very chipper and doing good business. They do not have an English or picture menu. They sent the 8 year old daughter to translate for us. She spoke great English. She said she is learning English in school. But she does not know the English names of the dishes and the Mandarin names mean nothing to us. Michelle ended up going to the kitchen where she found vegetables, mushrooms, young ferns, beef, onions and snow peas and asked them to make something out of them....it all looked so good. Soon we had many huge plates of food piled in front of us. It was way too much and sooo tasty.   An hour later, any thought of bringing some home for later had vanished along with most the food. The day was looking up!

We looked at our guidebook and the internet and explored options for getting out of Baihe. Changchun to the north has the movie set of 'The Last Emperor’. That sounded interesting. Nothing else there did. Or down to Dalian, with its popular neighboring island community, beaches and July beer fest? Hot and busy in July. And we are really are not big on beer, no matter how many varieties. We discovered a night train back to Shenyang and Dave went to the station with hopes of finding a tickets for the next night.

The line was short but the wait long. Dave got to the front and shoved his little note under the window asking for two hard sleeper bed in the middle. "Méiyǒu", she said as she shoved the note back though the window.. Damn, that ‘may-yo’ word again. Dave cringes every time he hears it. Mandarin does not have specific words for saying “yes” and “no.” Instead, the verb is used to make a positive or negative response, méiyǒu in not “no” and is closer to ‘ don’t have’. In China of 20 years ago, the ‘don’t have’ was often heard more likely to be accurate. Back then, we ran across large State owned cavernous stores with only a dozen or two items, spread widely apart in an earnest attempt to make the shelves appear less empty, Today, the there are thousands of private stores and now they are busting at the seams with too much merchandise. Now I think méiyǒu can mean; I am too lazy and disinterested to care or I don’t understand what you are trying ask. Rarely is méiyǒu followed by alternatives. It seems to be an effort to end the conversation. That’s why Dave hates to hear it. Dave then circle ‘soft sleeper’ on the note pad (he was prepared) and shoved the note back. She kept the note this time but was on to another task. For twenty minutes she counted  the1, 5,10, 20, and 100 yuan notes at least 5 time each, and then ran them though a bill counter to verify the counts again. Once done with that, she put the money away. It was now time to count tickets. She pulled out and eight inch stack of tickets.He hoped she wasn’t planning on closing out her drawer and going home without dealing with him again. Dave kept his elbows out and leaned forward to ensure no one else had the room to shove their money through the window and butt ahead. Eventually the ticket lady was done counting and punched up my train number on the computer. They have upper beds but not lower. What’s this? No méiyǒu?. ‘Yes, Yes, give me two.’.. He checked the date, time, start location and finish location. All was well in the world. Back at the hotel we noticed the bed numbers were not in sequence. The beds were in different compartments. He was not going back to deal with the evil ticket lady again. We’d live with it. Perhaps we can switch around once on the train.

We wanted to talk to the lady of the guesthouse. We wanted to ask about the conditions at Changbai Mountian. Should we take a coat, when do we leave, when do we return, where do we meet, etc.? We also had paid for two nights but now were staying only one and wanted to make sure to get our money back. We asked her over to our computer and talked using Google Translate.

==========Our Questions=======

1) What time do we leave on the tour tomorrow?

2) And what time will we be picked up?

3) And how much does it cost?\Is that the van we will be taking?

4) Will we need a jacket?

5) We are leaving on train tomorrow!!

6) We will need 100 yuan refund please.

we paid for 2 nights we need 1 night
return 100 yuan for second night
===========Questions & Answers=======-
English to Chinese (Traditional) translation








明天如果不用房间的话可以退明天十一点之前退房一般下午四点左右就差不多回来了可以                            有明天中午十一点退房

你想把包放在那里是我这里吗   还是放在房间里如果放在房间里我要收费的

您误会了   我是说您把您的包放在我的房间寄存我是不收费的如果用这个房间我是收费的

Chinese to English translation Answers

Changbai Mountain chartered to do tomorrow, I have a van to goback one two 60 yuan 30 yuan morning half past six collection
Our car has been in the mountains my husband give you arrangecar back
Is the time we do not control your own time limit
If you do not have the room, then tomorrow you can check back before tomorrow, eleven generally about four in the afternoon you can have almost come back out tomorrow, eleven o'clock
You want to pack in there I do here or on the room if placed in the room I should be charged
You misunderstood I say you put your bag in my room hostingcharges if I do not I use this room for a fee

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jason on

méiyǒu.....sorry dave, couldnt resist

Ellen R on

Love that Google translate program, but it needs some help.... Glad you are making your way safely and having adventures!

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