Barbara is soon to depart Tai'an and return to America. She had a couple of things that she wanted to do before she left. One of those little adventures was to go back to Jinan to see a football match.
Shandong were playing Beijing on 20/09/08. We ventured to Jinan. We had planned to leave at 10 am. Barbara was ready early so we left early. We caught the 10 am bus from Tai'an. Amazingly the bus journey was peaceful.
We arrived in Jinan and went to catch a taxi to our hotel - Jinan Nanjiao Hotel. A taxi stopped inside the bus terminal and I told him were we wanted to go. The taxi agreed to take us to our hotel and he already had a passenger in the car. We put our luggage in the boot and jumped in the back seat.
The taxi driver dropped the first passenger at his hotel. He then turned and told us that it would be Y50 to our hotel. I said, "No. It is Y15." The taxi driver then responded with an offer of Y20. I said, "No, Y15!" Eventually we got out of the cab.
I was laughing because there is never a trip without an incident! We had no idea were we where. We eventually hailed another taxi and got to our hotel for Y13! Even at Y15 he was still making a small profit.
We go to check in and I tell them that I have a reservation and hand over the details. Barbara looks at me and says, "Did you book me a room?" This was normal practice as I look after hotel reservations, however, in this instance I had asked Barbara to do her own booking via Hostel world. Oops Barbara had no booking.
I attempted to ask the reservations clerk for another room but was unsuccessful. After I had booked in we went to the business centre to use the internet. There were no rooms available on the internet. I then had a look at my Mandarin Phrase Book and found the statement for a reservation.
We went back to the check in counter and used this. Ah huh they now understood. Our next drama, or so we thought, would be that Barbara didn't have her passport as it was with the Public Security Bureau (PSB) renewing her visa. I then found in my phrase book the appropriate phrase. The reservations clerk requested Barbara's passport and she handed over her Foreign Expert Certificate (FEC). We were expecting to have a battle and we were shocked that she just accepted the FEC.
I think this was the last of our incidents for the weekend.
Of course, after we checked in it was straight to Jenny's cafe for a western fix! We both had hamburgers - Barbara had a diet coke, I had a latte.
Next we were off to see the 5 Dragon Pool. It was very pleasant. It cost Y5 to get in. It was a wedding photo haven! Whilst there we met two young Chinese girls. There was of course the customary photos with the foreigners! The springs were quite amazing. They went forever. The people who lived on the other side of the springs in my opinion had the best real estate.
There was a man who was swimming in the water. He was gorgeous! He would have been mid 70's. He would climb up on a fence and dive into the water. He would get out and do some sort of Karate Kid exercise only to dive back in again. He knew we were watching and he was putting on a show. He said that I could take pictures! I really wanted photos of all the people washing their clothes in the springs but they said, "no!'
Next we went to Guandi temple. Free to get in. You get to see the God of war. He is the Buddha who has the red face. Not too much to see here. But hey it is free.
We then went to Walmart to have a look around. It was OK. Around Walmart is some shopping. In the middle of this was an amazing part of the old town that we had never come across. We arrived on dusk. I hope my photos do it justice. It was just like eat street. There are narrow lanes full of eating options. I loved it.
We had to jump in a cab to get back to the hotel to get changed and on to the football - the whole purpose of the trip.
We arrived at the football with next to no time to spare. We didn't even have tickets. He headed to the ticket counter. The scalpers didn't have any 2 tickets together. 2 young Chinese girls came to ask if they could help us. Of course we agreed. They asked if we would like to sit with them. They had what they called common tickets. Didn't worry us.
We got inside the stadium and we had missed the first 1.20 minutes. Quickly we took our seats with our new friends. After 3 minutes of sitting Shandong scored. The crowd roared. Just before half time Shandong put another in the back of the net. It was 2 Nil at the break.
The atmosphere was great. We were getting sore legs from doing the Mexican Wave. The game finished at 2 nil. It could have easily been 6 - 1. At one point of the game the GK kicked the ball to the ring winger and with a magical first touch he hit the cross bar. If it went in I think it would be the best goal I had ever seen.
The second goal was also a work of art. Shandong had a free kick about two foot in from the right side line near the 18 yard box. The player crossed the ball to the left winger who volleyed it in to the top right corner of the net. It was a magical display of football.
Leaving the stadium I felt like a movie star! I had people asking for photos from every direction. I have no idea how many photos I had taken of me last night with Chinese people. I had people asking for a signature or to write them something. It was surely weird.
Anyway my new Chinese friends are English Majors at the Shandong Economic University in Jinan. Their English names are Beth, Felicia, Lena and Leon. We have exchanged email addresses.
After the football Barbara and I went to the Bandjo Music Bar. The worst rendition of Hotel California was again played. Barbara thinks that when she goes back to America she will contact the Eagles and request they sue for destroying the song.
The Chinese people can't really drink. I don't know the exact or scientific reason but I believe it has something to do with metabolism. Anyway, they always give it a good push. When we go out we buy one drink at a time. The Chinese buy a bottle and some mixers. They sit around playing games of all descriptions. The loser must 'bottoms up.'
Last night I was watching this man and woman. She was becoming more and more drunk by the second. In the end she threw up all over herself, her hand bag and the sofa she was sitting on. He dragged her to the other sofa that he was sitting on and then continued drinking. I was astonished!
We left shortly after this. It was just after midnight.
Today, we had a lazy morning and checked out at 11 am. We left our luggage at the hotel and went to Jenny's Cafe, of course. I had Rigatoni. It was pretty good. We then went shopping. We both bought tops. Then back to the hotel to get our luggage and off to the bus station to catch the bus back to Tai'an.
Unfortunately this will be my last little adventure with Barbara. I will miss her in many ways especially as my travel buddy. She has made my experience and adventures in China all the more special.
I will miss you Barbara. Enjoy the rest of your journey.