03.08.2010 - 03.08.2010
The metro ride to the airport that we estimated to be about thirty minutes actually took one hour and forty minutes.
Suddenly I had a thought. “How many airports are there in Shanghai?” I asked.
“Two.” Sarah replied.
“Are we going to the right one? We’re heading for the International airport and this is a domestic flight.”
“Hm, good point. Well we have a 50/50 chance of being right I suppose.”
We ran through Shanghai’s massive airport, still not knowing if we were at the right place.
A huge sign said, ‘Terminal 1 – international flights. Terminal 2 – Hong Kong and Macu’
There were a few minutes of panic before someone told us the Chengdu flight went out of terminal 2. After another short sprint we checked in six minutes before that gate closed. Still not as close as the Phom Pehn to Singapore flight we did three weeks ago where we checked in four minutes before that gate closed. We really should get organised.
After landing in Chengdu we did another rugby scrum to get tickets for the shuttle bus. This was a really good one, with some serious effort needed to fight through the crowd, thrust money into the ticket girl’s hand and snatch two tickets at the same time.
The booking confirmation for the hostel said ‘stay on the shuttle bus to the end of the line then get a taxi.’ Sounded easy. After stopping our fifth taxi we realised it wasn’t that they didn’t know where our hostel was, it was that we’d written the address down in English, and they could only read Chinese letters.
I stopped a guy who bore a striking resemblance to Simon Pegg (minus the blonde hair obviously). He could speak very few words of English but was very eager to help us. After fifteen minutes Simon Pegg had recruited the help of four other people, all of which could speak five words of English. I could see his theory, if we got enough people together who knew five words, eventually we would have enough words to make a whole conversation.
It didn’t work. All that happened was the small crowd drew a bigger crowd, after half an hour there were twenty two people surrounding us on the street corner, all very eager to help and all of them without a clue of where our hostel was. The piece of paper showing the address in English was passed from person to person, each of which would scratch their head and point in a different direction to the last person who’d tried to read it.
The next thing, flashing lights and sirens, “Oh God, we’re making so much of a scene the police have arrived!”
“No, no,” said Simon Pegg, “I have called them, maybe they can help.”
Out of the twenty-four people on the corner, the only two who weren’t eager to help were the policemen, instead they took Simon Pegg to one side and started interrogating him. Then they pushed him to the back of the pavement and took a statement from him.
“Jesus!!! This is getting out of hand.”
Then a lady stepped forward and asked the police to take us to the hostel to save us the price of a taxi, the answer was a swift ‘No!’
A guy with a Canadian/Australian accent stepped forward, “is there something kicking off?”
“Not really,” I replied, “We’re lost and the whole town has come out to help us.”
“And now they have confused you even more?” he asked with a jiggle.
“Well, police are taking statements, so that’s not a good sign.
“Jump in my car, I’ll drive you.”
We thanked everyone, especially Simon Pegg who was still under police caution and getting a grilling at the side of the road, and jumped in the car.
The guy’s name was Richard; he was Canadian but had grown up in Sydney, he’d moved to China to marry his wife Binbin. Within three minutes we were outside the hostel.
As we settled down in our 6-bed-dorm I wondered if Simon Pegg had escaped the police or whether he was settling down in a 6-bed-cell somewhere.