Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Xiaoshan – The Final Stop

I made my way through Cixi, then Luqiao, and after another grueling 4 hour bus ride I found myself in the city of Xiaoshan. From the bus station I had the name of my hotel so I hopped into a cab and went to the New Century Hotel. This place was grand. It was by far the nicest hotel I had come across so far on my trip. In fact the city of Xiaoshan was off the hook. The buildings were so modern, the streets clean, and all the taxi’s brand spanking new. This place just had a real fresh vibe to it. The hotel was even attached to some new wave mall! I approached the front desk and I felt underdressed in my lose t-shirt and cargoes. The lobby was filled with international business people wearing suits. As I gave the reception my credentials and waited for my room key, I was saddened when they informed me I did not have a reservation there! After calling my office I found out that there are in fact 4 New Century Hotels in Xiaoshan, and as I later found out New Century owns pretty much half the real estate in the city. So I hopped into another cab hoping the other branch would be as fresh as this one. On the drive over I was fortunate to have a driver who spoke a bit of English and we cracked the usual jokes. I even hit him with a pretty phat tip when we got to the hotel. It was not as great as the last place, but it was not all bad either, just a little bit older. I checked in and went up to my 3rd hotel room in 3 days. At least this place was cleaner than the last. I unpacked my shit and started to get work when I realized I did not have my phone. I could not believe I had lost my brand new N95! I am really bad with phones and I was kind of expecting this to happen sooner or later, but what horrid timing. I was on a business trip and I have become so damn dependent on this fucking phone. I went down to the reception hoping I had left it there, not finding it I asked the lady to call my number. I hate that feeling, waiting to see who will pick it up, or the sound when they turn it off. I have been in this situation too many times so in my mind I was prepared for the worst. I don’t get tense or sad anymore, I go straight into acceptance of loss. There is no begging god to let me off the hook one last time or promising myself to drink less or work more. I just straight up accept that any chance of me seeing this damn phone again is little to none. You can not imagine my relief and shock when I saw the old cab driver roll into the lobby wagging his finger at me. What a hero!

After a few hours I skipped out of the hotel for a meeting in a new building on the edge of the city. It was still light out when I got done but there was not a cab in site and there was nothing to really walk to where I was. I can not even begin to describe how hot it was as well. Luckily I did find a motorcycle taxi. I was not keen about riding the fucker though because driving in this city seemed to be quite erratic. There is not respect for motor cycles on the road in China as a matter of fact. So without a choice I hoped on the back of the old bike and decided to head back to the hotel. Xiaoshan as I mentioned is quite a beautiful city. There is a large hill in the middle of the city with a tunnel going through it so every time we cross from one part of torn into the other we have to pass through the tunnel. Some of the streets are also lined with old shops, broad sidewalks (which we rode on), and large trees providing shade. These features give the whole city a very splendid atmosphere full of character. As I have expressed on numerous occasions, this is what I can not find in Guangzhou.

Zipping through the city on the back of this motorcycle, I was really enjoying the sights and sounds. I was pretty much done with work till 5pm the next day when I had to catch a flight back to GZ. I decided to roam around for a while and take pictures. We even found a war memorial right in the center of Xiaoshan, on top of the little mountain. It was too damn hot to climb the thing and the fucker was steep but I did go a quarter ways up to take some pictures. I was actually planning to go back at 5am the next day when it was cooler to climb to the top but we all know that never happened. I also shot a short video from the back of the motorcycle while passing through the tunnel. If you listen up at the beginning of the clip you will here me get startled by a huge ass bus that came up behind me. Its pretty funny cause I could totally here the shock in my voice.

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