23.12.2011 - 02.01.2012
Jiuzhaigou, December 27th 2011
Like the night before, I sweated again in the middle of the night, although not as excessive. because this time I didn't go into my sleeping bag. Back home I checked out the internet to find out whether or not something was actually, or is, wrong with me. So far I have found none. What I experienced was not cold sweat. Far from that. I didn't experience any dizziness, breathing problem, and such. From the bright side I see that I still have some extra power heat in my body. That means I have the capacity to go to a more freezing place than Jiuzhaigou-in-winter. Aha!
My alarm clock beeped but having had already rolling off my jeans and one layer of sweater, my bed now felt cozy. Ah... there's still enough time. I dozed back. Only for a few minutes, I guess.
Because of that sweat in the middle of the night, I had to finally drag myself into the bathroom. In here, it's like a refrigerator. Suddenly I heard a knock on the door. The knock turned louder and louder.
I opened my bathroom door and shouted, "Who is it?"
"Six o'clock!" I heard.
"But I'm still taking a bath!" I shouted back.
The night before I had made sure with the front desk staff that someone will be at the table by 6 o'clock in the morning to take care for my check out. Oh? So is it 6 o'clock already?? Because of the cold but also because of nervousness, I surrounded the towel over my body in haste. I walked to the coffee table where my watch laid. 5:40. What?? Why did someone have to knock my door??
I took my time sipping instant noodle while packing my things. And yes, in winter, I think extra time has to be added in order to get dressed. First vest. Second vest. Sit on the bed. Lift one foot up. First stocking. The other foot. Now roll them up. Stand up. Make a slight jump. Done. Sit back on the bed. Second stocking... dal segno al fine. Wait, don't stand up yet. Your long socks. First sweater. Second sweater. Next, the shawl. Ooops, don't tie it just like tying a rice-sack. Stand in front of the mirror and make a little art with that shawl. Okay. Here are your winter shoes, I mean, boots. Last but not east, embrace yourself with that old-fashioned but super-warm jacket. Fine.
Phiuh! The other bright side is that by wearing almost all the clothes I had brought, I automatically reduced the size of my luggage. One camera backpack on my back and one bag over my shoulder. That's it.
When I was down at the front desk, a group of backpackers, all Chinese-looking (like me :P), were there proceeding their check out. Each of them carried a huge pack on their back and every of them had their backpack covered with a rain cover. Oh, no! Is it raining outside? Is it snowing? I had brought a rain cover, too. But walking under, either rain or snow, in such a freezing temperature, I can't call fun. Yesterday even under the bright afternoon sun, it was freezing. Should I imagine for something more than that??
I had a strong feeling that they were leaving for Chengdu on a bus, just like me. I thought I could share a taxi with them. But... I was too shy to ask. Poor me.
I didn't pay attention when they opened the door and went out. I proceeded with my checking out while hoping it wouldn't take long so that I could trail behind that group of backpackers.
"Wait a moment," said the lady staff. She went upstairs. Okay, she must go to my room to check whether the electric blanket is there. Hahaha.
When I was finally released, I opened the door, stepped out.... I wanted to cry, scream... I don't know. I returned inside to the hostel. Nobody was there. I took off my camera backpack, laid it down on the floor, and picked out my flashlight. Inheriting Dad's habit of carrying a flashlight to wherever and whenever, became a big blessing for me on this particular morning of December 27th 2011. Outside, it was literally dark. Dark as in Dee Ay aRe Kay. It was the most scary moment I ever had during all my adventures.
Guided by the light of my flashlight (and angels, I believe), I searched my way to the main road. It's not at all far away actually. But in the dark, what can you know? From another bright side again, I felt relief that the road wasn't badly mended like the ones in my hometown. Situation would be worse.
Oh ya, I need to cross a bridge to get to the main road. Now I was grateful for carrying my own habit of taking morning and evening walks. At least that makes me rather familiar with the area. A taxi passed by, I hailed, but the taxi just went by. There was another one. But it didn't stop. I waited, and waited, and waited. There were 2 people across the street. A taxi passed by, ignored me, but stopped beside them. They got in. Okay, maybe I have to cross the street. So I did. Another taxi passed by, but once again I was ignored. I waited, and waited, and waited.
In the dark, I saw a taxi parked near a big hotel. It was a hotel, not a hostel. I decided to cross back the bridge and walk to that taxi. The lights of the taxi were on. Who knows it's like in my hometown where taxis use to wait for passengers in front of a hotel.
A few meters away from the taxi, I waved at the taxi. But I didn't see any sign that the taxi was about to move towards me. So I walked closer. The driver's door was opened. Nobody was inside.
I walked to the hotel. A nice girl was sitting at the front desk. I asked her to help me call a taxi. She answered in Mandarin which I understood as: "Just wait by the side of the street." Then she took a piece of paper and drew a horizontal line, and then a man standing.
In whatever Mandarin I had, I pleaded her to help me. I told her that I had waited already but found none. My pleading was in absolute vain. She clearly couldn't help me not because she didn't want to.
You might be asking why I didn't ask my hostel staff to call a taxi for me. I did the day before. But she answered, "No need. Taxi, many, many." I believed her with all my heart, because during my morning walk, taxis frequently slowed down beside me and offered me a ride.
As I walked out of the hotel back into the thick dark, I imagined my friends' comment. If something happens to me, or at least, if I can't get on the bus to Chengdu, what would they say? "I thought so!" Maybe something like that.
I was back at the other side of the bridge again. Now there were a group of people across the street. Are they the group of backpackers from my hostel. I couldn't recognize them at all. I wanted to point my flashlight at them, but was afraid they would consider that rude, get mad at me, and... I'm alone. Ah...
A taxi was coming my way. I hailed with my flashlight hoping that the driver would see my tiny mini body in the dark. Guess what? The taxi slowed down but turned around and that group of people across the street got in. Aaarghhhh... Yes, taxi, many, many! Many, many, but no stop... aaarghhh!
I crossed the street and stood where that group of people had stood. Who knows there's an invisible sign written "Taxi" here. As far as I had been concerned, there are no signs like that in China. This is not Singapore. But who knows?
Here's a taxi coming. I turned down my flashlight and waved my hand with all my might. I also took care to use my right hand. Who knows left and right matters here.
The taxi stopped!!
In my terribly broken Mandarin I managed to tell the driver that I was going to Chengdu by bus and needed to go to the bus station.
He asked me what time my bus was.
I answered "shí diǎn" when actually I meant to say "qī diǎn". He nodded. I sat back. Phiuhhh.
Looking at the bus station which wasn't big but had the lights on was like finding an oasis in the middle of sahara -- as if I'd been to a sahara.
I saw a bus with the sign 成都 written on it. My watch was point to 10 minutes to 7. A young man came out from the building running to the bus. Why does he have to run? I asked myself. Ah, maybe he runs just to beat the cold. I answered myself.
When I left for Jiuzhaigou from Chengdu, there were 2 buses to Jiuzhaigou already filled with passengers, but leaving on different time which only differed 20 minutes. So to make sure this was the right bus, I went into