Monday, May 12, 2008

China trip and the Earthquake

This one is for myself…. For being stupid and yet brave.

I decided to make my 1st trip on my own into the land of China, where I knew I would be dumb but still adventurous – the land of Xian – the 1st capital of China.

I booked my flight and my youth hostel and was very excited to leave on Sat the 10th of May at 8.20am. It takes about 2 hours to get to the airport from school so Im really worried and waiting for the bus at 5am ( The train starts at 6am). Finally at 5.20 my bus arrives and I head to the MTR, get my train and Im Central at 7.30 to check in. To my dismay the check in counter has closed and I have to go to the airport now in a frenzy. I panic on the express train and keep praying that I get on that flight. At the airport the check-in counter is closed and I plead to give me a boarding pass – with no guarantee that I will make it on that flight. I rush through immigration with my HK – ID (thank god for this – I dint have a line to wait in) and skip the line for security check with a lot of people giving me snide comments. However, I couldn’t care much at this moment and ran… security love to hassle hurried people so they made me open my bags and practically took all my shampoo,creams blah blah blah I hated it, cuz all expensive stuff was out now : (
Anyways, I locked my suitcase and RAN – I was scooting on the escalators and into the train and to my gate. It was 5 mins to takeoff – I gave them my suitcase and they gave me a ticket that said that my bag may not be on this flight. I gladly accepted and ran into the plane. Furious faces greeted me and I found my seat. Getting my breath I started a conversation with the Chinese lady by me. We ended up talking all 3 hours and I felt so good that time flew.

The landing was splendid, perfect weather 21C and Im in this luxurious van that has come to pick me from the hostel. I was the only Indian on the flight and in the hostel. The hostel was nice, clean and spacious. Its actually a hotel IMO. They speak no English here and I feel stranded. A classmate of mine wrote necessary sentences in Chinese for me and this was my saving grace. I went to my room and took a quick nap. During this time Chirag was frantically trying to call me but in vain. People did not understand what he was saying @ reception. I was blissfully unaware of this and started my city trip around 3pm.

I wandered around the streets and it reminded me of India, the traffic, pollution , honking of vehicles, people just buzzing by you – everything…jus felt I was dumb in India. I walked to the Bell tower and watched a performance there very exciting Chinese music and then reading the map I went to the Drum tower and watched another performace. I met some tourists here and we just sat and observed the city and its activities for an hour from the top. Then I went around to the Muslim street the snack street and the mosque – I did some shopping and it was the Chinese vs Indian bargain – I wanted to save every penny and they wanted to earn every penny. Sometimes I got a deal sometimes they did : ) but it was fun shopping around. Its about 6pm now and the bell tower and drum tower are lit up and they look wonderfully beautiful – Chinese architecture shimmering in gold. I stroll down to the Xian wall and I climb up and rent a bicycle and ride for about an hour. Its good fun, I stop and watch the sun set and the City lights come up. I walk down to some expensive stores and try some expensive clothing. I’ve lost so much weight I need an M in Chinese size. Now I am tired and want to go back to the hostel, but I cant seem to find the right exit to the street that would take me back. I ask around and show off the Chinese card but no luck. SO I jump into a cab and he takes me back, I feel so relieved. I barely drop my bags in the room and I realize I’m late – I’m supposed to go for a Tsang dynasty show and the tour guide hurries me to the place. Just in time for the show, I enter the hall and Im not surprised, its packed with about 800 firangs. Im the only Indian here again. The performaces are very graceful and the music very soothing. I watch 8 of these and make small talk with the people on the table. Once the show is over Im escorted by the tour guide back to the hotel and Im starving but there is no store that’s open and sleep hungry.

The next morning, Im off to watsons and around to shop for breakfast. Its 8am the shops are open, shutters coming up and people getting ready for their day. I show off my Chinese post cards – No egg, no meat, no seafood – and its about 4 shops that show me the door. I finally try for some bread but no luck, so a young Chinese boy who is trying his English looks right into my face and asks “whats wrong with you” Im like startled but just say I need bread ..so he walks me to a Wal-Mart and I get my bread and lotions : ) I hurry back and start my tour. To the Museum, the terracotta warriors and the hot spring. These are tourist spots and very attractive. I take a good bath in the hot spring and hope the minerals do good to me : ) Once we come back, I do some more shopping and get to a cyber cafĂ©. Send some mails and call it a day. I crash and the next day Im leaving. So I visit the Pagoda and the Emperors tomb, this time on my own in a private car with a driver. I feel very rich but it’s cheap to rent the car here. So still on a student budget Im having fun. The pagoda is very nice and I head to the tomb. Its about 2.15 and Im mid way up the hill and suddenly I feel very tired and dizzy, Im like stit, I feel like im gonna faint and the world around me is wobbling and everything is shaking. Im so scared, I feel like im in some strange land and sick and no one can help me, I feel like im falling so I sit down but the feeling doesn’t stop, I look around the hills and everything is in waves and it hits me – THERE IS AN EARTHQUAKE. At this time there is no tourist in vicinity, so I jus sit there and think of how I can inform anyone. Very soon I see 2 tourists rush down the hill and I ask them if the felt the earth shake and they nod. Im so relieved, they sit beside me and Im so glad Im not sick. I feel happy that its jus the earth and not my health. Once the tremble stops they head down and I climb up. Im still not sure about the dizziness so I buy some water and ice cream and run down. I buy some warriors outside and the car takes me for lunch. I cant discuss the earthquake cuz he doesn’t understand me.

I take a nap on the way to the airport and get weird dreams of the shake. Im quite frightened but hell im alive. At the airport it’s a mess, all the flights are cancelled and its curfew. There are people everywhere, I soon recognize tons of them from tourist destinations. I push my cart in que and sit down and make friends, the night is long and people need company. We describe our experiences and make lengthy conversations. Im the only Indian on the airport and only Indian gurl too. I think im nuts to wander off into this land and get stuck, but again im glad im alive. Some people were evacuated from their hotels, some were rushed from the shower and from bed and everyone was frightened. Tourists give updates via their blackberries, the local CCTV is no good cuz its Chinese, the airport staff have no idea whats happening just that all flights are cancelled. I’m stranded in this country where I cant speak, I have NO money cuz I shopped till the end, I have no credit card or phone card, and I’m hungry. Finally 7 hours later the flights resume, its 1.30am and I’m glad I’m going home. I get my veggie meal at about 2am and sleep till 4. I get my taxi and Im on my way back. A quick shower a silent prayer and some rest. Im on my way to office at 9am and at Wan Chai no one seems disturbed. Everyone is in their own rush and no one even mentions the tremor but I cant stop thinking about it.

4 comments:

Randhir said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Randhir said...

"The chronicles of Chordia" is finally online!!! :-)

Arthi said...

Oh ya...finally after all you said I guess I had no choice but to post it.

S.barupal said...

hI GUYS,
iam here a new comer to HKUSt MBA student,pls give me some tips for the study environment.pls
write me back.