So turns out China is as far away as everyone says, and when you begin to freak out about the 14 hour flight there it’s warranted. Not necessarily because the flight is that impossible; enough wine, sleeping pills, and a neck pillow will sort you out. It’s all the time in between, plus the added/subtracted hours from your day that really mess you up. In the end you don’t know the day or where you are. And even though you were just on the plane for 14+ hours, you still struggle to remember how you got wherever you ended up.
So my point? China is out there. And when you’re there you’re soaking up all there is, like stuff I mean food, culture, people, pictures what have you. And when it’s time to leave you know to live it up because the travel back will be as long and hard as the entry. While we were there Emily told how she has this fear of not being able to get out of China. Again this is actually warranted since her first trip to China left her traveling solo, missing every single flight, being rerouted and then rebooked again and again. In the end she resolved to lying on the floor and crying. Finally two Chinese women scooped her up and put her on the plane, she made it out.
Our last days in China were filled with climbing, more climbing, some sight seeing and more climbing, this time up the millions of steps to the actual climbing. I pulled out a couple 5.13 sends which left me stoked and pretty content with my performance for a short trip, filled with a crazy amount of distractions, people, lines photos media, ect. By the time the others athletes left I thought I would feel happy to have the crags cleared out to myself. But actually it felt like the energy dropped. The high intensity we had felt all week melted away. It was serene, but we were all starting to need a change of scenery.
We finished up our last few days, everyone getting some impressive sends and well deserved chain clipping after a week of work. Kevin took care of the whole Five Ten crew by booking us a cab and hotel out in Guiyang, a good 4-hour bus ride from the remote province of Getu. Needless to say by the time we got to Guiyang we were tired hungry, car sick and happy to be alive after some serious back road Chinese driving tactics taking by our cab driver. Unable to communicate you can’t really say “Slow down!” or “I don’t want to die!” You just smile and act polite, and when you have to pee you usually have to mimicking standing and whizing on the side of the road like a boy would. Luckily Kevin knew the beta and told us to translate a few short phrases, translating “Can you please stop at the next toilet?” saved me the embarrassment of such charade tactics.
What we hadn’t translated was “We want to eat somewhere else besides the scary restaurant next to our dodgy hotel located by the dirty toll booth. We want to enjoy our last night in China by going into the cool ass city of Guiyang, seeing the people, experiencing the culture, and getting some different eatery than the same soup and noodles we had been eating for 16 days straight. We want to go there have a great dinner then get a cab back to the hotel that we don’t know the name of, so we can catch our early flight at 5 am the next morning.” Yeah we neglected to translate this. So you can imagine how impressed I was when Dave Graham surged all his travel guru skills from years of gypsism and managed to relay this message, not word for word of course, but enough to get us to an awesome restaurant in the middle of the bustling city and back again.
It was a site to see and not one I’ll soon forget. The people of Guiyang were so nice and overly excited to help us order through pictures pointing and food gestures, (yeah not sure what those are either). In the end all six of us piled drunkenly into a taxi and headed for the hotel. Chinese regulations, or lack there of, made for a cheap cab ride! We “slept” for a 3 hours and awoke to what would be the next long leg of the “getting-out-of-china” process. I checked for my passport a million times, guaranteed not leave my get-out-of-Getu pass behind.
As we entered the check-in counter we had reached the moment of truth. Dave was in the front and soon enough I realized something was wrong. Turns out his flight was the next day. The following scenes resembled something comparable to an irate, half drunken person, who just realized they may just be stuck in china. Yeah not pretty. At one point Dave gave me a very serious look and said something to the effect of “If they don’t fix this, I’m about to become a very different person.” Not sure what he meant but he looked scary. Apparently Dave’s travel guru skills hadn’t prepared him for criss-cross checking ticket stubs, or getting royally screwed by Air China. In the end he made it on the flight. I’m still not sure how. He mentioned that at one point he almost resorted to the “lay-on-the-floor-and-cry-totalsubmission” Emily tactic. In those final moments of departure, I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same.