12 Hours in China
While in transit to Bali, my trip started off with being stuck in Guangzhou, China for 12 hours. With no Internet, air more polluted than Los Angeles’, no social media, or food I could recognize, it was a specialized version of hell.
MAYBE GUANGHZOU WAS THE COST OF THE AMAZINGNESS I WOULD EXPERIENCE IN BALI SO I COULDN’T EVEN BE MAD.
Airport – My first taste of culture shock occurred when I got on Air China. The safety videos were in Chinese (obviously) and of passengers buckling into their seat belts in a field of grass (yea I didn’t get it either). After 15 hours of not eating and reading a movie, I landed in China. Oh China. At first, it was amazing to be dropped in the middle of a foreign country and take on the task of navigating my way around. There was not one person who spoke English and I had no idea where to go. I was given a piece of paper with literally a line, three curves and a circle over the words “you here” lmao. I wish I were kidding. Every 10 steps I found someone who worked there and pointed to the piece of paper to make sure I was going to the right place. I made it upstairs and wanted to start vlogging when I realized my sim card didn't work with my go-pro. WTF! I found a tech store and spent a good 45 minutes having the lady set it up for me. She was so sweet and asked me a few questions she could put together in her broken English about Hollywood.
Bus Ride – The ride to the hotel was maybe the best part of my experience. It was air-conditioned (heaven in humid weather) with views of the countryside. It’s amazing when your textbooks come to life and the things you feel you’ve already seen (through movies, books, internet), are actualized and in the physical. The countryside had a beautiful innocence to it and there were school children walking around, cows roaming and other animals that seemed to rule the road.
Hotel – I arrived at the hotel after the 20 minute bus ride. It was like entering the Grand Budapest hotel but with way less people. It was literally the most grand hotel I’d ever stepped into, it felt like I was in Rush Hour 2 (I know that’s ignorant to say, but that’s the only reference that came to mind). With such a beautiful lobby, I knew the rooms would be amazing…WRONG. I was so wrong. I was too hungry to notice my room was straight out of a 90s sitcom (down to the TV and phone) and breakfast was almost over. I threw my bags down, and ran downstairs through a large crowd of businessmen to the restaurant.
I was SO excited to eat, but was aware that I was in a different country, so I figured they HAD to at least have something like cereal...NOPE. For breakfast they were serving animal parts I didn’t know were edible, chow mien with a side of grease, and a slew of other delectables. Usually, if I’m uncomfortable with food, I have bread and butter, yet for some reason I didn’t think I should have the bread with the same consistency as a cracker. I did find some butter rolls so I saved about 12 in a napkin (habits from my grandma) and realized that would be my lunch, dinner, and possibly breakfast until I got to Bali. Sigh.
Sidenote: I did find a delicious soup place in the airport on the way to Bali, that literally saved my life!
Walking/Exploring – The city had a sticky atmosphere and air that was thick with foreign aromas. Since my hotel (the nicest in the city) had that unpleasant grimy feeling even though everything was “clean”, I decided to make the most out of it and go explore. I walked as far as I could (without getting lost) and was ultimately excited because of the extreme culture shock. NO ONE looked like me, and that seems obvious but when you’re probably the one person that looks like you in a ~10,000 mi radius (including the airport lol) it really gets to you. No one smiled so of course it made me smile harder and that combined with the fact that I had box braids and a crop top, I was definitely the anomaly. Some people laughed, some real ones whistled and others snarled, probably thinking “ugh Americans”.
After all this, it was finally time for me to go back to the airport to get to Bali. I definitely got there 4 hours early (just to feel like I was leaving faster) and got to check out their stores, eat some soup and do some reading. Overall, China was definitely an unexpected adventure and a good story to tell.
I was so excited to leave that I made a video (below)...Enjoy.
Have you ever been to China? If so, what did you love/dislike about it!? Tell me in the comments below.