Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I am so stupid // I never stop learning

This is my 5th time in China and one would think that I know the rules for foreigners.... well I apparently don't know them well enough, because today I almost would have had to sleep on the streets of Shaxi (Not actually, but one likes to exaggerate so that the story is interesting)

Because you are a loyal reader of my blog you know that I just got back from Luxi two days ago. Well I got to Kunming all excited to rest, only to realize that 99% of all stores were still closed. Seriously though, the city is dead. You could easily longboard down the beautiful big ring roads without getting killed. There are barely any cars on the streets and it appears as if one is the last human being on earth.
I knew that people were joking around that over spring festival the country stands still, but I did not realize that this was no exaggeration.
So clearly a dead Kunming is no fun so I quickly decided to travel for the first time completely by myself in China. I booked a room in a beautiful guesthouse near Shaxi old town and prepared myself for the 12 hour travel day.
I had to leave quite early and was really excited that I could find a cab out on the streets. Everything went really smooth and I already thought that this could really be too good to be true. Here was what my general plan was:

Kunming - Jianchuang / Travel time: 8 hours.
Jianchuang - Shaxi / Travel time: 90 min (I was not sure how I would actually get to Shaxi from Juanchuan)
Shaxi - to my guesthouse / Travel time: 1 hour on foot (but my plan was to convince a local to give me a ride on his motorcycle)

So there I was in my bus on my way to Jianchuang. Now, once you are in the bus there is no turning back. However, (and this is where the story actually starts) two hours into my adventure I realized I had left my passport at my dorm. Now, if you have never been to China or have checked into a Chinese hotel/guesthouse you might think 'whats the big deal', but let me tell you: its a huge deal.
Every foreigner must provide a passport with a valid visa when checking into the guest house. The owners will then report the guest to the local police so that they can keep track of you. (In reality i am pretty sure that no police officer actually cares and that the informations just gets lost somewhere)
So no passport means no room. Now I knew that there were ways around that, but I did not want to risk it.
I seriously panicked cursing myself that I made such a silly mistake. I realized that I had to travel all the way to Jianchuang and worst case scenario had to catch the overnight bus back to Kunming. If that would have happened I would have spend 16 hours in a bus, which would have probably driven me crazy.

Everything turned out okay though. I got a pass port copy sent to me via email, which was everything I needed.

I ended up meeting some cool europeans in the back of a minivan that I took to Shaxi. They were able to give me some intel on Xinjiang, which I was very happy about. I can't wait to go.
Overall I think it is incredibly important to start an adventure without really knowing where it takes you. I already made friends with a Chinese TV host and talked with some locals in Chinese. Traveling by yourself is actually pretty nice.

The guesthouse is also amazing. I nearly had to walk the one hour, but ended up finding a local bus that took me part of the way. The guesthouse dates back nearly 200 years and was restored in a very tasteful way. They try very hard to be environmentally friendly and most importantly they were very understandable about my rookie mistake.

The things I am thankful for: My parents, the ability to roam, and most importantly I am thankful that my poorly planned adventure turned out so well.

Now I will go to sleep in my huge bed, listen to the wind blow through the pine trees in the courtyard and get excited about my hot hot shower tomorrow morning. Good night everyone!

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