So I was forewarned that at some point homesickness would kick in ,and having been here for 8 months and no sign of it I thought I was immune. But suddenly,this holiday weekend it hit me. The main catalyst was the nasty head cold I got as we were away in Fuzhou, Fujian Province. But the second element was definitely the horrid journey back which was fraught, and which cost us a fortune due to a ridiculous error on my part and the fact that all of China was busy attempting to go somewhere, just as I had been warned.
So we had a great trip down to Fuznou,on the 6 hour fast train from Hangzhou. The hotel didn’t look too bad,despite the complete lack of English and their unwillingness to give us a receipt tor the deposit money. Deposit is something we are already accustomed to in China but not the fact that the hotel refuses to acknowledge you have paid it. We got to the room which “looked ok” actually was pretty huge. The bed turned out to be even harder than usual in China but that was not the main fault. At 4.30 am we were awakened by military music outside the window. Being positioned “punkt” in the main square of Fuzhou right about the Mao statue we bacame part of the morning flag raising ceremony and this happened the next nights also except ironically enough on the morning of May 1 when we had to get up early to leave in any case!
Fuzhou was nice enough,not nearly as pleasant as nearby Xiamen,though. We looked around a couple of Unis ,the Agriculture and Forestry campus,which was as nice as ours,full of plants,trees and a lake etc.,but the Technology campus out in University city was way out in the middle of nowhere. We also saw the White Pagoda,,Xihu Park and lake which is a kind of Mini version of the Hangzhou one,but nowhere near as big or beautiful, and the adjoining Panda centre complete with pandas and firefoxesIt was fun watching mums and kidddies ogling the pandas and taking photos..In the evening we saw the renovated part of the town near the river called “Three Lanes and Seven Alleys” a kind of yuppified area of bars and restaurants and old style shops,very attractive. The area around the White Pagoda was really lovely ,on the top of a hill called Wushan right behind our hotel. The main square (the Mao one) was however,definitely a bit too “soviet realism ” for me,despite having a huge shopping centre across the road, with ads for Armani and all the other brand names, and a parade of shops with the statutory KFC,McD and Pizza Hut adjoining.
The disaster really was on the day when we returned home. Because of a stupid mistake I made (or the ticket lady?) when we arrived at Fuzbou south station we discovered our return tickets were in fact Hangzhou to Fuzhou and not vice versa. A nice boy took us down to the ticket office and wrote on a piece of paper in Chinese that we had been sold the wrong tickets and we wanted to exchange them. However this being May 1 and a ver BIG public Holiday,there were no tickets until the next afternoon. We had to be back to teach May 2 at 8am. We therefore jumped in a taxi to the airport (200RMB) and asked for any flight to Hanghzou. There WAS only one flight- 9pm at night,(it was 10am ). So with no other option we coughed up 1700 RMB and prepared to do nothing at the airport for an entire day, by which time my head cold was brewing nicely. At 8.30 pm it appeared all was well but at 9pm they told us the flight was delayed (which did not come as a big surprise, since all the preceding flights had been delayed due to the raging thunderstorm outside). We finally took off at 10.30pm and arrived in Hangzhou at 1am or so. We then had to get a taxi to drive us the hour to Lin’an (another 450RMB) and we got home at 230am so made it to morning class despite feeling crappy. All of this and my main thought was ” I really want a bowl of vegetable soup like at home, and a crusty loaf like at home”. Homesick? or Just sick?
TIme will tell…