November draws to a close, and so I should probably finish telling November stories this week in my blog, eh? There are really only two stories of note, with a few small anecdotes in between. This first post requires us to jump all the way back to November 6th. The month had just begun and we foreigners were but a shy six days into the growth of our No-Shave Novembeards. We had been invited to travel to the far-away nearby city of Ping Ding Shan (approximately 4 hours by bus) where we would be doing some sort of modeling service. The details were hazy, but we were assured that we would be fed, watered, transported, and paid a handsome sum of 400 RMB. As the university was delinquent in paying us October’s wage and we had little cash to spare those of us who had the weekend free (read: Josh and I) were eager to participate in the adventure. (In addition, it seemed like a fun idea at the time).
We departed the foreign teachers’ complex at 6 AM sharp as a party of four– Me, Josh, Anastya (the Russian teacher) and UIFIEFOSF (a student whose name I have forgotten). We met Josh’s energetic student at the South gate (her English name is Agnes, but she prefers to go by Apple, although I am unsure why. It could be because Agnes is a horrifying name…?) Anyway, we piled 5 people into a cab and began the ride to Zhengzhou were we would meet up with the rest of the entertainment troupe and our bus to Ping Ding Shan. The ride was extremely uncomfortable, but was short because the taxi man was eager to get rid of us. It took less than an hour to drive the distance, and before you knew it were were sitting on a bus heading to Ping Ding Shan.
It was at this point that we encountered a kindly Australian man by the name of Phil. Phil had been roped into the situation the same as us, but instead of modeling he was expected to give a speech regarding the environmental situation of Ping Ding Shan (this is another case of a foreigner being used as an ‘expert’ when in fact he was anything but). Phil was very lovely and we chatted a bit on the bus ride. I buried my nose in papers and graded merrily for sometime as the bus drove ever on and on.
Finally, around 11 AM, the bus landed at a hotel in Ping Ding Shan. We departed and began to explore the hotel a bit before being wrangled back into the bus to go get lunch. However, it was quickly decided that the bus ride was not really necessary and that we would simply walk to get lunch. We departed (again) and walked several blocks down the street to a restaurant where heaping plates of jiao zi were endlessly flung at us. I enjoyed tofu and cabbage dumplings and bowls of hot water (yes, the water was served in bowls rather than cups. Heaping bowls).
After a brief lunch we moved back to the hotel where we began to prepare for our mission. Phil had been provided with a speech to give to the congregation and was in the process of rewriting the Chinglish into something understandable. Some of the great take-aways from the speech include lines such as: “I’m Mark Boney and I’ve traveled here from Switzerland today to talk to you about Ping Ding Shan,” and “I was told by my friends that China was not so good in the environmental area, but after coming to Ping Ding Shan my mind has been changed.” This last one is particularly funny because Ping Ding Shan seemed incredibly dirty. Phil was not comfortable with impersonating Mark Boney (if he even exists) and opted instead to go by Phil.
So here’s where events got horrid. We had been asked previously what our height, weight, and shoe sizes were, so we assumed that we would be dressed in some sort of outfits. However, we were certainly not expecting the outfits we were put into…
Even worse was that they did not actually provide us with shoes, and so we were stuck in trainers and my old, beat up brown shoes that I’ve been using daily for months. The sight must have been truly ridiculous.
We were next led to the hotel gallery room where we would be performing our job. A slightly terrifying woman with ridiculous eyes and high heals instructed us to hold out our hands. She then placed a tray on top and proceeded to try her best to get it to tip and fall off (she did this by attacking it angrily from all sides). She reminded me of a small Pokemon, lunging forward with attacks that were “not very effective.”
Eventually guests began to stream in and we were put forth as drink servers. Some modeling, huh? We aren’t entirely positive what was going on at the hotel, but suspect that they were trying to get rich Chinese people to buy into either timeshares on an unbuilt property or to invest in future real estate opportunities. After a few rounds of movement we had saturated the floor with drinks and were left at a loss as to what we should do. We kept moving around, with little reward for our effort.
About an hour into our job the presentation in the adjoining room began and we were told we could go change back into our street clothes. We were a little confused and worried that our job did not last as long as it was said that it should, but jumped at the chance to get out of our ridiculous clothing. We were told that we would be paid when we arrived in Zhengzhou, but it would be some time til then as the presentation would not be over until 6 (it was about 3:30 then).
I headed out into Ping Ding Shan to explore a bit, as Josh and Anastya went the presentation and HOIEHIGH stayed behind to do homework or something. My bar senses were tingling and it wasn’t long before I’d made friends with the local bartender and gotten myself a glass of whiskey. I phoned Josh and urged him and Anastya to join me. They did so happily and we began to drink.
Eventually DHFIUHEFI called us and let us know that we were beginning to head back to the bus (at 5:30 instead of 6) because the presentation was over. So we paid our bill and left the bar, boarding our bus back to Zhengzhou. The rest of the trip is inconsequential. We were paid our 400 clams and made it back in time to keep Lao Wang from locking us out in the cold. All in all it was about an hour of easy work for 400 RMB, but it took all day to accomplish… Strange China, that’s for sure.
As a final note for this post, it is currently the eve of November 30th and as such we are about to enter into the final day of no-shave November. This is me after one month of continuous facial hair growth. Enjoy, for you will not see it again for some time!
I shall endeavor to have a new post up about clubbing in Kaifeng by Thursday! Have a great Monday, USA!