So almost everything went right. Almost. What’s one tiny, weeny detail. We made it to Hung Hom station after all, bags fully packed, didn’t forget anything. We made it through three border controls, seven passport checks, two landing card checks, two body scans and two luggage checks. Lost two apples, had to sign declaration forms that we consented to the lawful destruction of our breakfast but that was okay. Two hour train ride, piece of cake. Manoevred through the hellish Chinese metro, where barely a letter of English can be found, fine. Got to Guangzhou South station, at long last. Found the ticket booths. Put down our bags, sighed with relief.
‘No train today. Tomorrow.’
Oh come on. We were SO close.
‘Tomorrow. 7 o’clock.’
It’s fine, it’s fine, we told ourselves, no worries. We’ll find a hostel to sleep, a sim card for internet, electricity converters, all fine, we saw them selling a bunch a second ago anyway. Oh no wait that was at Guangzhou East, 45 minutes by MTR away. No okay so we’ll read. That one pocket book we have. Together. We’ll watch an episode of Game of Thrones! And watch my laptop die. Okay so we’ll connect to the Wifi and anyway, we have a power bank. We’ll sit and chill and nap and it’ll be fine. Only what. 18 hours to go… we’re fine.
We’ve survived worse.
Okay so let’s just check with this lady where the sim cards are. No sim cards. Okay well fine. A last sliver of hope nags at me. ‘Hotel’?
‘Ah yes, station hotel. Passports?’
Our hearts leap.
Moments later we’re following a beautiful doll of a lady with perfectly pinned hair and pink lipstick and a pink skirt who totters immaculately in front of our worn out, sweaty selves. She gestures towards a private taxi. We get in. The driver nods to us as he drives off.
‘Nono, we’re from Holland.’
Aaaand we’re back to where we started.
I start lying. ‘England?’
‘AH, yes yes. England.’
‘Close to England.’
‘England.’ Myrthe interjects. It’s clear this is the closest we’re going to get. Besides, we’re distracting his driving and he’s almost rammed into three cars in the time we’ve “talked”.
Once at the hotel, the driver proudly strides in with us and yells something. I understand the word England.
Oh god now they’re going to think we lied about our nationality. We’ve already attempted to smuggle in two apples into this country, and a still coughing Myrthe, who was technically supposed to report it to immigration, and we’re a pair of raging blond capitalists, now they’re going to kick us out for pretending to be British.
‘NO. Holland.’ I exclaim adamantly. I pull out my phone and point it out on the map.
The receptionist looks puzzled. ‘Is that in China?’ He asks kindly.
Myrthe and I exchange looks.
’No. This is where we come from.’
Hey, it ain’t so bad down there, watch your tone.
Another battle of simplified, slightly too loud English versus Chinglish commences. We win. We have a room key. We can sleep. Not just that, but this room is NICE. We have like double beds and everything. The whole building is crumbling to pieces but hey. minor detail. We’re not stuck on a train station with a dying laptop and one communal book.
China, here we come.
(p.s. for people trying to talk to us, the wifi is down on our phones so no WhatsApp, and it’s China so no Facebook, no gmail, no Instagram. Peace out xxx)