If you have my read my 2 previous blog entries, by now, you should be familiar with the term “bizibu”. If not, it’s a Luganda word, meaning “problems” – a word I use way too often to describe my life experiences. Today was another day, filled with bizibu and it all started with my journey to Guangzhou.
As usual, I was late to meet my friends. We agreed 9.30am and that was the exact time I woke up. Typical. Alas, I managed to get myself together and ready by 10. Impressive.
The sun was beaming, which usually makes me feel a bit sick and gives me a headache, but I was feeling optimistic this morning. Very optimistic. Too optimistic?
You see, Guangzhou is renowned for its cheap hair weave, and numerous other products. Of course I was excited. Here in Macau, everything is so expensive and I always have people in the UK, asking me for cheap goods from China, when there is absolutely nothing cheap about Macau. And so I was exited for my trip to Guangzhou; to finally experience the cheap side of China!
“How long is the journey again, sorry?” I asked my friend, cheerily as I really had no reason to feel any other way.
“2 hours” she replied.
“Fairly long,” I thought to myself. “It’ll be worth it though!”
FAIRLY LONG? Long is an understatement! 2 hours was sheer inaccuracy. Fair? What was fair about leaving campus at 10am, only to arrive at our “destination” at 3pm? Bizibu!
We had to take 2 busses to arrive at the border in Zhuhai, which at the time I thought was okay because that took almost an hour, so I believed we had already endured half the journey. At one point my friend asked this Chinese man for directions, and he was so intimidated by her English that he literally took a 360 turn as if he was trying to rid himself of a nuisance. He even smiled to himself as if to say, “no, these Europeans will not prosper with me today. They tried it though.”
Nevertheless we found our way to border control, where I learnt; unless you’re standing behind the “yellow line” nobody is going to listen to you.
“Oh, we’re traveling tog-”
“No! No! You must stay behind the yellow line!”
“Okay but we have a group-”
There were so many different border control points, I was beginning to wonder whether I was traveling out of China completely and I just was not aware.
After about half an hour of silly passport-check stops we entered Zhuhai and it was like heaven on earth. Everything was so much cheaper! Bags, shoes, trainers, jewelry, vintage clothes, phone accessories.. Literally EVERYTHING at bargain prices – prices that you could still negotiate lower!
Unfortunately this was not our final destination. We were headed to Guangzhou and were on a tight visa schedule, so we did not have time to stop and shop. Our coach was conveniently ready to leave as we arrived so we maintained optimism.
I genuinely believed it was going to take an hour to reach Guangzhou. This is literally what we had been told by everyone we asked. But no. Having got on the bus around midday and arriving at 3pm, we were completely shattered. The journey was so inconceivably long that I began to laugh hysterically. My sanity had become questionable because I’d genuinely given up on life.
“Where are we?”, I asked impatiently.
“I have no idea”, my friend responded helplessly. “Everything is in Chinese, and I see no black people to direct us to where we can buy hair.”
“Our visa expires in 3 hours”, my other friend explained. “We actually do not have time to shop at all because that’s how long it took to get here.”
“This has got to be a joke”, I thought to myself. We literally spent 5 hours traveling to this place, only to be lost, confused and “out of time”. I felt like a joke. I felt like I was becoming accustomed to feeling like a joke, because bizibu continue to prevail.
“I don’t deserve this!” I declared out loud. My friends laughed, but I could not have been anymore sincere. My body ached from sitting down for so long, my bladder felt like it was going to explode and I was starving. I suggested we might as well eat before we head back to Zhuhai. That’s the least we can do for ourselves.
Why we thought we could tackle Great China alone, not knowing where we were going specifically or being able to speak Chinese, I’ll never know.
We sat down to eat in this cafe which was empty, but after seeing black people, soon attracted many customers, some of which filmed me and took pictures of me as I ate, with big grins on their faces. What kind of spawns of Satan?
We also got approached by this man, selling an iPhone 6 for the equivalent of £200. I was not interested at first but he persisted, so my friends and I negotiated it down to the equivalent of £60. My final offer was £20 and I began to walk away, assuming he would not accept. However, the man was so desperate he agreed. WHO SELLS A BRAND NEW IPHONE 6 FOR £20 THOUGH? The camera was impeccable, the screen and back were spotless. It all seemed too good to be true. My heart was telling me to buy it and sell it QUICK. But my instincts were telling me there’s a reason why he’s just targeting us foreigners. If he was as desperate for the money as he kept saying, he would be trying everyone and anyone on the street. We unanimously agreed not to buy it, but he was not giving up. I suppose the desire for it in my eyes, gave him false hope. He began tapping my arm, urging me to buy it. Telling me to name him any price. I felt so torn. Was it stolen? What was the catch? In the end I put my foot down and sternly told him, no. Took a while for him to accept though (took a while in my heart too).
By this time, we had about 2 hours to get back to the border before the expiration of our visas and thought it wise to buy some food from the supermarket for the road. Wise? What would have been wise, although uncommon, unless you’re buying groceries like milk or bread, was to have checked the expiry date.
Halfway through our coach journey back, we realised half the drinks we bought were gone off. The cakes too. I felt like my life of banter was rubbing off on my new friends and they didn’t deserve this either. All we could do was laugh. We had reached a point where if you don’t laugh, you’d cry. I laughed thunderously at the back of the coach, with no care or consideration for anyone around me, because they did not know my struggle!
I finally reached home around 10.30pm. What a ridiculous, nonsensical day it had been. But that’s life eh! I’ve learnt never to punch too high above my weight (in this sense anyway): next time, know exactly where you’re going or just take someone with you who speaks Chinese! I’ve also learnt that in future, to take pictures back of people taking pictures of me, very unsubtly – give them a taste of their own medicine! Thirdly, I’ve learnt that my life really is just banter, with regularly occurring bizibu, but I’ve still got to make the most of it, so Guangzhou, I shall be back and I shall find what I’m looking for!