A Travellerspoint blog

How Tough Life in China Can Be

After the fourth trip to China and the fourth day in Beijing.


Beijing, December 28th 2012

Because my tour package included dropping off transportation, I requested Jason from Hantang International Service to drop me off at the Silk Factory instead of at my hotel. All the way from Mutianyu, we argued about the tour duration. This tour which I booked through Viator, stated on the web (at the time of my booking) that this is a Full Day Tour which takes 9 hours. Nevertheless, Jason, the tour guide, insisted that he is assigned by his office for a 6 hour tour only. He told me to check his document. I refused. It's Viator to which I've paid my money and it's Viator who had promised a 9 hour tour. I take it that once you agree to pay for something which has been described on a specification, that's a contract. The producer takes the money and then gives to the consumer as described on the specification.

"You can complain to Viator," Jason suggested. "Usually my group leaves Mutianyu at 11:00. But because I saw that you liked it very much, I gave you time until 11:30."

"So what time is this tour supposed to end?" I asked.

"At 2:00."

According to my observation of sunrise and sunset, a tour that starts at 8:00 AM and ends at 2:00 PM is not a Full Day Tour, unless you have dinner at 4:00 PM and go to bed at 5:00 PM. In other words, you are half human and half koala. Tidur mulu.

Actually the matter of tour duration time had accumulated to the disgusting feeling of Jason's attitude on our way to Mutianyu. He kept on asking me about where I went and what I did during my previous Beijing Private Tour, and in a manner like:

"In our tour, we usually make a visit to a local's home."

"I did also."

"Oh you did, too! And then did you do paper cutting there?"

"Yes... I did."

"In our tour, we usually provide many activities until about 2 o'clock. Other tours usually end at twelve."

I checked the exif data of my photos on that day. "My tour also ended at 2 o'clock!" Actually it was about 1:30. Whatsoever, 1:30 is closer to 2:00 than to 12:00, isn't it?

"Oh, yours also? Did you have lunch at the hutong? In our tour... "

"Hey! What are you trying to tell me?" I was getting furious with this interview all the way from my hotel. "Your travel agency is the best. When anyone wants to take a tour in Beijing, they should book it from you. I get that!"

"Thank you, thank you." I could see a glimpse of satisfaction on Jason's face. "But it looks like I've made you upset. That's not what I meant."

"Then what do you mean?"

"I want to explain to you about Beijing. But before that I have to know where you had been and what your tour guide had already explained to you, so you won't have to hear the same thing twice."

"That doesn't matter at all! You just tell me what you want to tell me. If that's something I know already, I'll tell you."

Our car stopped at a red light. Jason continued, "Okay. I want to tell you about Beijing and I will tell you about Mutianyu. There are some tour guides who seem to know a lot about Beijing. But they don't really know. As a result the tourists get wrong information. I usually ... ... ..." Bla, bla, bla. The traffic light turned green.

"Jason, when the traffic light turned red, you said you wanted to tell me about Beijing. Until the light turned back green, you haven't told me anything about Beijing."


Enough of flashbacks. We arrived in front of Beijing Silk Factory.

"Is this the factory?"

"Yes, it is there inside," Jason answered.

"Okay, thank you." I prepared to get off the car.

"I'm going with you," Jason said.

"No, it's okay. It's just inside there, isn't it? I can go by myself. Thank you for bringing me here."

"Yeah but you need an interpreter inside."

"An interpreter? Hmmm, I will just look around."

"But you cannot go alone."

"I cannot go alone? That's funny."

"There's no English-speaking guide inside. So you must go with an interpreter."

"I told you I have gone to a silk factory already in Vietnam. I"ve learned about the process. I just want to take pictures of silk making process in China. I probably would understand just by watching, without having someone explain to me.

"Let me ask them if you can go in alone." Jason got off the car. It was pass 2 o'clock.

Inside the so called factory, Jason spoke something to the staff. And then he turned to me, "Okay, you can go by yourself. It's upstairs, then turn to the right."

"Thank you. Bye bye." I climbed the stairs up, then turned right.

Suddenly I heard my name being called. Ah, my name does sound like a Chinese name (although it's not). That must be someone else's name being called, I told myself. I kept on walking.

I heard it again. So I turned my head back.

From the bottom of the staircase, Jason was calling me. "Sorry. To the left, not right!"

I was surprised to see him standing there. So he hadn't gone away yet? Didn't he say that my tour is supposed to end by 2:00 PM? Being given a limited time in Mutianyu, not to mention Mutianyu as the main theme of the tour, I thought Jason wanted to end his service immediately as it was past two already. Why does Jason now seem so concerned about me, whereas he had left me on my own in Mutianyu, not to mention that I had paid for being guided in Mutianyu? Where the path was steep and slippery with ice, Jason should have had more concern about me than here, shouldn't he?

Meanwhile there was a young lady standing not far from me. There was nobody else besides the two of us. She just stood, with her eyes fixed on me.

I knelt on the floor with my camera backpack. While changing my lens and setting the camera, I strongly felt her shadow over me.

I turned my head. "Are you going to stand there and watch me until I go home?"

"Whaaat?" She obviously looked taken by surprise. Oh, did she think I couldn't talk?

"I said. Are, you, going, to, stand, there, and, watch, me, until, I, go, home!"

"Excuse me?"

"Aaaarghhh! What do you want?!"

"Oh! No, no, no." She turned away and left me alone. I continued sorting out my stuffs into my backpack, including hand gloves, ear muff, masker, and etc.

When I was about to hang my backpack over my shoulder, I felt someone's presence behind me. What an eerie factory, huh!? I turned my head back.

Dumbfounded I was. For some seconds, I just stood. Mouth half opened. I stared at Jason, and Jason at me. It was like someone had pushed the pause button.

After that several seconds, as if that someone pressed the play button, Jason opened his mouth. "Toilet! To the toilet!" He turned to the toilet on his right.

So!?!? Jason has not yet left?!?! He left me at Mutianyu, but he follows me here!?!? If he really intended to go to the toilet, why had he have to stare at my back. Do you decide to whether or not go to the toilet on my back!?!? Hěn qíguài!

Later on, when I was looking around inside the museum (Not quite a factory after all. That story will come next.), a group of Western tourists came. They were accompanied by the young lady who stood watching me just now. Oh, so she is an interpreter. I see! I watched her give explanation. This is this and that is that, she said. And the group was driven to the next room. Poor people -- if they do care. Even I, who came earlier had not yet finished exploring. I don't mean examining each thread of each silk material. Simply reading the information board and taking a look for five seconds the max on each item on display. What's the purpose of displaying so many stuffs and information, if after all you are going to give just a brief explanation to your guests? Let alone learning about the stuffs. They don't even have the chance to just look at it! For this, you insist a foreigner-guest take an interpreter? Hěn qíguài!

As I've mentioned in previous post, Jason himself explained that economic life in Beijing has been tough nowadays. People will do anything to make ends meet.

Here comes my assumption. By walking along with me on Mutianyu Wall, most likely Jason won't get anything extra from me who is obviously undoubtedly stingy. However, by ushering me into the Silk Factory, he can request a commission from the staffs for introducing me to their place. By making me take an interpreter, Jason ought to be thanked for by the interpreter.

You know what was there in the next room? A place selling, yes selling, silk stuffs. It's here, where guests have to be rushed to. Exactly like the Tea Ceremoney... uhm, Ceremony, experience. The explanation about silk is just like the explanation about tea. It's just a way to appear less barbaric.

My Mandarin teacher who finished her study in Taiwan would have said to me, "I told you."

This is my forth trip to China and forth day in Beijing. I'm still convinced that heaven is in heaven, earth is on earth, and China is on earth. As life can be, so can China be: tough. But as life can be also, there's still so much to be excited for. 加油!!

Posted by automidori 23:03 Archived in China Tagged china beijing silk_factory viator silk_museum

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