The official Chinese government tourism people can make mistakes too. This hypothetical conversation should have occurred when the overnight train tickets were handed to Josh the morning before the Hanging Temple and Caves tour: Jeannette what is the date today? Why, I think it is the 17th, what is the date on those train tickets? UH-OH!
So we get to the train station and wait for our train to board, it is late. Being not so much of a tourist place, absolutely nothing is in English and we just kind of follow our train number around. In China, getting on a train is some sort of experience. Everyone in the waiting room at some point stands up, seemingly the standing begins after some announcement is made that we don’t understand. We stand too. Everyone jostles for position and tries to get through the gates and onto the train platform first. At any moment approximately 25 people are staring at the white people. This night we jostle for about 45 minutes and finally get to the ticket puncher and she freaks out because (as the above mentioned hypothetical conversation did not occur) the dates on our tickets are wrong.
So we are stopped from boarding the train. We try in vain to explain that our tickets were issued to us this morning (the 17th), it is clearly a mistake and they should just let us on. China is not anything if it is not by the rules, so we are going to miss our train. Approximately, 30 minutes later, 3 train operaters, 1 police officer, 1 English translator, 1 train grand master (she had a great uniform and a huge hat), and about 30 random Chinese surrounding us in all the drama, each taking care in explaining to us that we can’t possibly board that train because our tickets are for yesterday. I took care not to slap everyone of them. However, I could not hide my anger and Jeannette did most of the interacting. Finally, I explained that we are not stupid, we understand the dates our wrong, we are not trying to fool them and that their official guy gave us these tickets. Their response: “But sir, the date on your tickets is yesterday??!!!??” Finally, the grand master decreed that we could in fact board the train. But the train had left some twenty minutes ago and I had to get out of the station. Thankfully, Jeannette followed me. A quick side note, the Chinese get very nervous when people get worked up, apparently no one in this country has ever complained about anything. We headed back to our hotel to sort it out in the morning. Of course, our hotel that we had checked out of a mere 2 hours previously had somehow already rebooked our room (which we had already paid for) and was otherwise fully occupied. Again swallowing our exasperation, we requested that they find us another room in the city and get us there. They did, we again took a taxi to a new hotel (even nicer), checked in, and went to bed hoping this was all some elaborate dream that the Malaria medication had cooked up.
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