Welcome friends and adventurers!
Just a disclaimer before we begin today; this post wont be as long as the usual. So you don’t have to clear your schedule and hoard food and water like normal. Unless you want to that is. In that case, hoard away my friends.
In case you couldn’t tell by the title, I will inevitably get mad at something today. If you would like to read about my irrational anger at something inanimate that couldn’t possibly have actually done something to me to make my anger justified (although it will probably be entertaining), then please read on. Luckily, part 2 of my ‘Cristina Versus’ series is completely devoid of creepy crawlies aka cockroaches aka demon spawn. Oh sorry, demon spawns are centipedes, cockroaches aren’t AS bad. Unless they are in your bed. If you haven’t read that particularly scarring post you can read it here.
So here we go!
Cristina Versus – the Hangzhou bus system
I don’t hate a lot of things. I think hating things is mostly pointless and it takes so much effort! That being said, i’m far from perfect. So from time to time I catch myself hating something. I can say that I have left behind my phase of hating people. It was fairly brief and childish, but it did happen once upon a time. And you know what? I get why people spend their whole lives hating, hating things and hating other people. Hate is so much easier than forgiveness. It is much simpler to hate someone than to face the ugly green mug of jealousy lurking behind it, feeding the flames with insecure kindling and doubtful matches. In the end though, that fire gives off no real heat, and hate is a cold bedfellow. I apologize that that sounds cheesy.
That being said, while hate may be easier than facing the real problems, it also takes work! I have known people who constantly hate, and that takes a toll on you. They hate their lives, hate their jobs, hate their cars, hate their attitudes, hate themselves. They are miserable, and yet for them it is still easier to sit and wallow in that pit than realize they themselves have to change to get out of it. I came to the realization a while ago that hate takes work! It isn’t actually easy. But those people who are still trudging along through life carrying hate like a book bag full of books for that report you procrastinated on, they haven’t realized yet how much easier it actually is to let it go. Just let it go! I have worked to let things roll off my shoulders, and i’m proud to say that I truly don’t feel hatred towards other people.
Now that that is out of the way, and i’m done being understanding about hatred, let me just pull a complete 180 and say that I do, occasionally, still hate things. Hey, I did say I wasn’t perfect! Although, I don’t normally hold onto the hate for long. Like I said before, that takes too much effort. But for example, I HATE centipedes. I despise their many long creepy legs. I am repulsed by the way they slither about like snakes (I don’t dislike snakes, I actually find them pretty cool). I detest when they appear in the bathroom only when I am in there and no one else. Most of all, I loathe when the mother of all centipedes vindictively hides in my hairbrush and decides to take a wriggling stroll in my hair when I was 11! Just so you know, that actually happened.
(I do not own this image)
Imagine that. IN YOUR HAIR. Nightmare material.
Other than my deeply seeded hated for centipedes, I have recently discovered another thing to add to my, albeit short, list of things I hate.
I hate the bus system in Hangzhou. Currently the score stands at buses = 2, Cristina = 0. Twice now I have tried to take the bus somewhere, and twice now I have ended up late and grumpy in a cab with less money than I started with. I suppose I should direct my hatred at Google Maps for telling me these routes to take, but Google Maps hasn’t always steered me wrong. I’m also sure that, in reality, the bus system is a wonderful mode of transportation. Maybe if I could read Chinese it wouldn’t be such a problem. Maybe I should just blame myself, but that wouldn’t be much fun, now would it? All i’m saying is that I have never had such a problem figuring out a bus system in my life.
This most recent time I was trying to get to the West Lake when the buses got the best of me. More specifically I was trying to get to the Zara and the H&M right by the musical fountains on the West Lake so I could find a pair of shoes for New Years. But shortly after that I needed to be at the train station to get the train to Shanghai. I did end up finding a pair of shoes by the way, in case anyone was wondering; a pair of royal blue pumps that matched my blue blazer perfectly.
Normally, I would just take a cab to the West Lake, but I am making a conscious effort to save money. Yes, I realize the irony of saying that right after saying I went shoe shopping.
Hold on, let me cover all my bases: yes Pop, I know that I should be saving money, but this was the first pair of shoes I have bought in China! That is four months of not buying shoes which might actually be some kind of record. No Pop, i’m not spending too much money. Ok, that should do it.
It is about 30 yuan to get to the West Lake by taxi, that is about $5. Not very much, but it adds up! So I looked up the directions to get to the West Lake by bus. It estimated that it would take about an hour and a half, but it seemed pretty simple. It was just one bus as opposed to multiple with transfers. Something that gets me about buses in general is that when I estimate how much time a bus will take and compare it to how much time walking will take, they are almost identical. I don’t like being idle and sitting on a bus that only moves as fast as the traffic will allow. I have considered using a bike here, but I enjoy life too much to want to die a painful, metallic death by car.
So, unlike my last bought with the bus system, where I got really excited to take the bus for the first time and had my hopes crushed under the heavy wheel of a Hangzhou bus because I never even ended up finding the bus stop I needed (i’m still convinced it doesn’t exist and never did), and I ended up taking a cab after 45 minutes of stupidly walking up and down the street. Unlike that time, this time I did find the right bus stop! Almost right away too! Yay! Good for me, i’m improving! I walked about 20 minutes to get to this specific bus stop, where I saw the bus number I needed displayed on the sign. I couldn’t decipher the words, of course, but I knew I needed to go 14 stops. I figured I would just count really carefully and hope for the best. Well I would have done that, if the bus ever came. Which it didn’t. FOILED AGAIN! I waited for about 20 awkward minutes, where I pretended like I didn’t notice every single person at the bus stop staring at me. The bus stop was in a fairly residential, ‘blue collar’ neighborhood, so saying I stood out like a sore thumb is an understatement. I watched as bus after bus came to the station and picked up my curious companions, but no bus 251 ever came for little ol’ me. Now I know how dogs feels when they are waiting for their owners to come home. Every car (or bus) that comes down the street makes you perk up hopefully and get a little excited, only to have your hopes dashed when it continues past your house (or is yet another bus 63. Seriously how many bus 63s do you need!? I’m not greedy, I just need one 251)! So I finally go back to the information panel at the stop, and spend the next five minutes searching every inch of it until I found the running times for the buses. And do you know what it said for bus 251?
22:10 – 03:50. (That’s roughly 10 at night to 4 in the morning, in case you don’t know military/24hr time).
I don’t know what swear word that is, but I have no other way of expressing my anger. Why, oh why, in a country where most people go ‘out’ by 7pm and are back home by 10pm (which is funny because back home, I start my night at 10pm) is there a bus that ONLY runs from 10 at night to 4 in the morning. WHO IS THAT BUS FOR!? Can’t be for those crazy party people because the Chinese people who are partying at the club are not the ones catching buses at 3 in the morning! They have cars, or take cabs.
After I made the discovery of the nonsensical bus schedule, I walked back to the intersection and tried to get a cab. The two guys in front of me got cabs, but then when I was waiting for one…. none. Every single cab that drove by were occupied or off duty. Here was my unplanned schedule for the next hour or so.
11:50 – Stand on corner for 15 minutes waiting for cab. Get frustrated leave.
12:05 – Walk the 15 minutes back to my usual cab stop.
12: 20 – Wait another 40 minutes. Furiously type frustration about bus system on phone.
1:00 – Finally catch a cab. Sit in cab late and grumpy.
1:15 – Pay cab driver 28RNB more than it would have taken for a bus. Walk 10 minutes to Zara and H&M.
1:25 – Ruthlessly look for shoes because you need to leave for the train station in 20 minutes.
1:35 – Find shoes on sale.
1:40 – Buy shoes. Feel slightly better.
I left my apartment at 11:15, I didn’t get to my destination until 1:25.
Touché, bus system, touché.
You may have won this round (and the one before that), but I will not be defeated! I will try again because it only takes 2 or 3 RNB for a bus ride, and I really want to save the money. Why you ask? Because i’m going on a backpacking trip! In fact, i’m leaving in about a week! Next Monday, I fly out to Hanoi, Vietnam and then I will, with my friend from Hangzhou, trek down through Vietnam, cross into Cambodia and then continue to Thailand. The trip will be exactly a month, and I am beyond ecstatic! What adventures will wait for me there!? I guess we will find out!
Until the next time we meet on the field of battle, Hangzhou bus system. Bring it.
For all of you readers out there don’t forget:
Adventure is out there, so never stop exploring!
January 5, 2014:
Since writing the above blog about my dislike of the Hangzhou bus system, I have continued to attempt to use it. So far I have managed to use the buses … wait for it… 4 times! Ha! Take that Hangzhou bus system! (Although I did attempt to use them a total of 6 times and failed twice, so I suppose we are still even). But…I… shut up!
And the battle rages on…