With a little bit of luck and a whole lot of Someone looking out for me, I managed to make it to Hangzhou! It was quite an adventure, and only the beginning of many more to come I learn more the longer I’m here. After what can only be credited to Help from Above, Taylor managed to apply for and receive his visa in the same day–the day our flight to China was set to leave. We got his visa with just enough time to speed off to the airport, luggage precariously loaded in the back of my topless Wrangler, and somehow managed to check in on time. Thanks, Dad!
After a 13 hour flight, we arrived in Shanghai. The next day Taylor’s school came to pick him up, while my plans were to take the bus to Hangzhou. I waited around for Taylor’s car so we could say goodbye, also hoping his driver might take pity on me and offer me a ride. I realized that would not be the case when I saw the car that pulled up had just enough room for Taylor, his waiban, the driver, and Taylor’s luggage. Our parting left me feeling a little sad, a little afraid, and full of Thoughts I would make it to my destination by the end of the day with all my belongings in tow.
After purchasing my ticket I got on what I hoped was the correct bus and mostly read the Hunger Games while Harry Potter 7 Part 1 played on the bus TV (Harry’s Chinese voice over was particularly manly sounding) for 2 and a half hours until the bus arrived in downtown Hangzhou, parked perpendicular to a curb blocking one small side street, and unloaded all its passengers in the middle of the street (I have since come to learn this is not uncommon practice and that China has some of the scariest drivers in the world).
After getting my bags (with suitcases a combined total of 120lbs., plus the 30 lb. travel pack I had on my back) I got to work waving down a taxi, following the example of some of my former bus-mates (by standing in front of oncoming traffic and waving one arm up and down a bit). I managed to get about 5 taxis to stop for me, but each time I said “Xiasha” the driver would make a noise of disgust, shake his head, roll up his window, and speed away (Later a friend told me I had arrived during the time when the drivers all switch their shifts which is why no one wanted to drive me the 30 minutes to my district). I started to worry I wasn’t pronouncing the district correctly and wondered what on earth I should do next when a man approached me and started pulling one of my bags toward his car saying “Xiasha”. I followed him because he seemed to want to help. He typed a 300 into his phone and pointed to it saying, “Money.” I shook my head no because a) he wanted me to get into his black car that didn’t say taxi anywhere on it and b) my waiban had told me it should cost about 100 RMB (about $15) to take a taxi, so I knew he was overcharging. Black Car Man seemed upset with me for that, so I didn’t want to stand there much longer. Luckily, one of the taxis who had turned me down before came back just then, said “Xiasha!” with a smile and waved me in. I practically jumped into his arms out of gratitude. Once we were headed in the correct general direction and after much motioning of putting a phone to my ear, Kind Driver allowed me to use his cell phone to call my waiban who was able to tell him more specifically where I needed to be. I arrived at my school and Thanked Daddio I had made it. Not too shabby for my first full day in China!