Dave's Sketch Journal

Drawing is taking a line for a walk. - Paul Klee

Cheap Trip

MachineWe went on an overnighter about an hour and a half away with a group of 20 friends. It was the cheapest trip I've ever taken. But... why? Why didn't I figure it out? Fifteen dollars was all it cost per person. It included a chartered bus, one hotel night, and even a dinner out.

Are you kidding me? Fifteen bucks for the whole thing?

LifeVestsThe bus was fine. There were no incidents. Except that, when we got to the town we were told to get off and walk to the hotel. It seems that there was an entry fee to the town for bus loads of people. If we walked, we could save a few dollars per person. So some of us got out and walked. Others hopped into a car and rode. No fees for cars I guess. And a few stayed on the bus but didn't get charged. It's always the same when traveling in China . . . nothing ever makes any sense.

After arriving by foot to the hotel, we discovered that the hotel arrangements had been canceled. No one put a deposit down so the rooms were lent out to another group. There were accommodations available in another hotel. I should have guessed.

chairsWhen we got to the other hotel we were pleased. It was clean and neat, and that's really all I expected. From our room there was a view of the building next door, about an arm's length away. There was a restaurant downstairs, but the noise echoed up the building valley. We shut the window and turned on the TV and found a nature show to watch.

The bathroom was no bigger than a postcard. Shower, squat toilet, and sink were all within reach of each other. So I can use the facilities, shower, and shave all at the same time. The window was modestly covered with stained glass contact paper. Nice touch. But emphasis on THE window. There was only one. The other sliding window pane was missing. And the mirror on the opposite wall reflected the building window across the way . Hmmm...if I can see them, can't they see me? Never mind. I don't want to think about it.

The shower and toilet handles were built right in to the surface mounted pipes. There was a very convenient arrangement of cut-off valves, pipes and elbows, complete with Chinese characters for "hot" and "cold" which, conveniently enough, I was able to read. Not that it mattered. The "hot" was just a degree above "cold" so either gave me a cold shower. Actually, we later discovered that we had the deluxe shower. Our friend's bathroom didn't come with a shower head. They washed up under a raw water pipe.

I soon discovered that there was no toilet paper, soap, or towels in the bathroom. I walked back down five flights of stairs (did I mention that there is no elevator?) to find out why. Initially she said that there would be an extra charge of $1 per roll. After remonstrations we were able to get toilet paper and soap without cost. But there were no towels to be had at any price. We begged and pleaded. We even offered money but she was firm on this point. They didn't carry towels.

But why? Why on earth would a hotel not have towels? She said that it was just too much bother for her to have to wash them between each guest visit.

I just don't get it.

We walked down to the lakefront and had lunch and played some games. But even here, there was turmoil. Some lady with a straw hat came up and tried to charge us for using these little plastic chairs.  We got up and told her we wouldn't use them.  We'd just sit on the beach wall.  She said we couldn't sit there either and continued to pester us.  When she saw we were not going to leave, she remonstrated louder.  We kindly asked her to leave.  When it didn't look like she was going to take "No" for an answer, we told her to leave, not so kindly.

A cheap shot is a terrible thing to waste. - Anon

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