Guangzhou – January 21, 2007

24 01 2007

2007-01-21 Sunday

Sunday was a rainy dull day, which sucked.  I had planned to go out and shoot some photos of the wild and wacky traffic, but the rain put a damper on that.  It looked to be about 9C out at best.  Sigh. 

After debating with my stomach whether the hamburger last night was good or not, my insides settled.  (Mental note – hamburgers come with fresh lettuce and tomatoes, as well as ground beef… DO NOT eat them when travelling). I wandered down from my room around 1000 to go for breakfast, and I noticed that the Chinese restaurant was serving Dim Sum.  Sweet!!  I went over that way to have my breakfast.  Communication fun was the name of the game again. 

I approached the restaurant and asked for a table for 1 in my usual Cantonese.  She looks and me and says… “No.” and points to the Western Restaurant. 
I shake my head and indicate I want to eat HERE. 
She, with a broken english points over at the other restaurant and says “Western”. 
I point to this restaurant and say “Yum Cha, Dim Sum”.  and it appears that with a bit more hand waving that I finally convince them that YES, I want to eat here.  I think it is because the Western Buffet can be included in your room, and most western travellers just do that.  Since we had the screw up at the beginning, I’ve been signing for each breakfast, so I can go here, and not worry about the fact that I’m going to get charged for the other as well.
I get my little table, and the waitress comes up and says “What kind Tea?” 
“Sao Mei”
Obviously taken aback by my mastery of the Cantonese language she smiles and says what I imagine is “Your Chinese is very good”.  (Or – “Hey – stop butchering our language”.. I can’t be sure).  Alas, no Sao Mei.
“Bo Lei?”
Yes, and off she goes.  Good thing, as I was running out of tea names that I knew 🙂
Around comes the dim sum cart, and I start looking.  Great – recognize everything.
I order the beef balls, spareribs, haw gau, and ham soy gaw.  All in Cantonese!   That really got them buzzing, you could see one talking to another about this… Quite the treat I must be.  Nice to know that I can provide some entertainment value for the local population.

The dim sum dishes were smaller than Vancouver, which is good, as it allowed me to sample more types.  When I finished, I asked for my bill.  It came to about 24 or 30 RMB.  I indicated I wanted to sign for it (as I was billing all my breakfasts to the room and wanted to remain consistent).  Fatal flaw.

Waitress talks to hostess, hostess talks to manager, manager talks to other manager, manager then comes back and talks to hostess, hostess talks to waitress.  Waitress comes back to my table asks for my room card.  I had her my card key.  Waitress goes away, comes back quickly, “No sir, room card.  This is room KEY.”
“It’s all I’ve got.”, I say.  Previous scenario replays, and now followed by waitress runs down to the first floor to talk to the front desk.  Much paperwork ensues, waitress runs (and I mean runs…she’s trying hard not to hold me up) up the stairs, and talks to hostess, hostess comes over, and presents me with the bill to sign.  Wow.  What a production!  You’d NORMALLY think that a hotel would be designed to take your money quickly with the swipe of your pen. Not so much. I think that in order to combat fraud, they have put some pretty elaborate steps in place to ensure the identity of whomever is actually signing.

After breakfast, I grabbed my camera and planned to head out.  I got out the door, and said “Nope, not gonna happen.  Too cold and wet.” I didn’t pack a shell with me on this trip since last year it just sat around useless.  This year I kind of miss it.  I realized that I am relegated to staying in the hotel for the day.  I decided to see if there was any more life on the 3rd floor that I had previously found to be largely vacant.  It was largely vacant, but there were some couches that you could sit on, and watch the world go by in the lobby below (3 floor high open lobby).  I took a few pictures and sat with my laptop, and wrote up the missing days in the blog.  It seemed like it might be OK after all.  A down day now and then is a good way to recharge.

I skipped lunch, as I had been pretty full from the Dim Sum.  I decided to hang in my room for a bit.  I put on the headphones and cranked some tunes.  I drifted in and out of a nice restful sleep for about 3 hours.  Around 2pm, I began to hear a relentless pounding (like a 20lb sledge being dropped on the concrete floor above), with a frequency of the pile drivers you hear down by the water front sometimes.  Thump, Thump, Thump….  Uggh.  I dragged my laptop with me and headed down to the lounge.  At least it was away from the noise.  I ordered a Bailey’s coffee, and settled into writing up the blogs and listening to some laptop tunes in the back corner (away from the VERY cold lobby area with its wide open doors).

While I was sitting there, some harried looking fellow comes in and orders a scotch.  He looks frazzled, and somehow when he sees me (another westerner) he starts talking.  And doesn’t stop, really.  Nice guy, doing some wicked 9 cities in 3 weeks visit to all his company suppliers.  Ouch. We talk for a while, and he heads off.

I can’t remember what dinner was on Sunday, but it certainly WASN’T the hamburger this time 🙂  It was a quiet night, and I think I headed back up to my room around 2200 after enjoying the serenading tunes of the band.  Only one more week of work left (4 days or so really)  I felt a slight flutter when I thought about that.  Excitement about finishing?  Nerves?  I dunno.  Monday should prove to be interesting.

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