Friday, December 10, 2010

Day 1 – Guilin: The beginning of the reunion

I would have to start off my chronicles of our Guilin/Yangshuo trip talking about the eve of our departure. On 20 Nov morning, we headed to Raffles City for some shopping (I bought some scarves and stuff from H&M) and lunch at小南国. When I was at H&M, Wayne brought Rosabelle out to walk, with my bag, and my handphone inside, so when I was done, for the next 20 minutes, I could not even contact them nor find where they were. I went around the same level, thinking they could not have gone far, and my request to use the H&M store phone to call Wayne was rejected (can’t make outgoing calls…duh?) – the assistant didn’t even offer to let me use her mobile, oh well…

Then I saw father and daughter coming down the escalator – they had gone upstairs and even after repeated reminders to use the toilet, Rosabelle refused (and this was after drinking small cup after cup of for-testing Vitamin Water at the supermarket downstairs, and she even had her first sip of bubble tea, courtesy of Yours Truly), and when she eventually had to go, Wayne could not make it in time and she peed as he was removing her diaper/pants. So she had pee all over her pants and socks, and Wayne had to carry her as he washed and dried the clothes under the hand dryer. Obviously his calls to me went unheeded because he was carrying my bag with my phone inside, remember? He must have scolded our girl quite abit as Rosabelle looked pretty sheepish, which was just as well, since Wayne already did his part by reminding her to go to the loo earlier.

By the time we came home, our girl was quite tired, and had a three-hour nap, waking in time for our takeaway dinner of 将太无二. Nainai wanted to take a night train home that night, so the plan was to finish dinner, then have Wayne bring Rosabelle to send Nainai to the train station. The two hours they were gone, I was able to quickly do any last-minute packing and cleaned up the house (keeping her toys and stuff away etc). At first, I got slightly worried that they were taking longer than usual, and then I thought Wayne could be bringing her for a ride about town, heh!

Turns out they had ice cream at KFC since they both stopped for a loo break there, and as usual, our girl preferred the cone to the ice cream… That night, sans Nainai, we got her into bed way past 1am, which wasn’t good at all, since we needed to catch a 11:50am flight the next day…

There were strong winds howling that night, making me fearful that our flights might get disrupted because of the bad weather. Me being me, I did not sleep well and woke up at 7am, which was just as well, as I needed to pack, and also cook the corn+peas and potato+sweet potato to bring on board the plane. Shortly after I woke up, Rosabelle woke up crying and Wayne actually called for me, but I told him to settle her down – maybe it was because the winds were howling outside – and she did go back to sleep after some patting, right until I had to wake her up at 9am to head to the airport and eat breakfast en route.

We bade farewell to Daddy dearest at the gates…
By the time we cleared security, we did not have much time till boarding time, but I let her play awhile at a playground located inside the departure area, until I decided I’d better make my way to our gate, and thank goodness we did, as it was a long distance and I ended up placing her in the trolley even though I know you’re not supposed to.

We boarded the plane and had a three-seater all to ourselves, but the seat near the window, where she was originally seated, had a spoilt arm rest with the cover coming off and exposing a sharp part, so she ended up sitting near the aisle instead. On the journey, we were served lunch, but as the staff claimed I did not book a child’s meal, they gave her an adult set instead. Oh well… she pinched some of the rice, had some of the fruits, and mostly ate the food I prepared for her. There was quite a mess from the purple sweet potato landing on the seats, and her sitting on them, and can you believe I forgot to pack tissue paper in the bag (I had tons checked in)? Thank goodness I had wet wipes….

The flight was otherwise rather uneventful, and we reached on time at 2:50pm, but had to wait quite abit for our luggage to come out. In the mean time, I could feel the temperature difference – it was quite humid within the airport and I was perspiring even with just two thin layers. Maybe it was because the rains were coming, as when we started walking out into the arrival hall, we saw that it was drizzling slightly. I saw a placard with the name ‘GIOK ENG LIN’ on it, and told the man that he was supposed to pick me, and pick my parents at a later flight (the hotel must have gotten our names mixed up).

Luckily the rains weren’t too big as we were walking out, as the van was parked a distance away in an open-air carpark, and we had a safe journey to our hotel, Eva Inn, reaching there at about 4+pm. I forgot to insist that my brother was picking up the tab upon check-out, and signed an authorization with my own credit card, which would lead to much dissent upon check-out on the last day… In any case, we went to our room, which was really nice and spacious.
Our girl went wild at the new ‘playground’, running around and exploring, and ignoring/rejecting my repeated attempts/offers to ‘milk, milk’ and sleep. So just as well, I did my unpacking and got ready to call this home for the next few days, as our girl got busy with helping herself to the welcome fruit platter of small apples and tangerines.
At some point, I decided that I was the adult and really needed her to get some rest, and can leave my packing for later, so I got her changed and within minutes of nursing her, had her going into a deep sleep at 5:45pm. It was raining rather heavily by then and the room windows/balcony doors weren’t exactly sound-proof, so the sound of the rains outside were really quite loud. However, she still managed to sleep through it all, but was rudely woken up when my room phone rang about half an hour later.

Now, I’d wanted to unhook the phone, but decided against it in case my family arrived and wanted to contact me, but I wasn’t expecting the sound of the phone to be so loud, and was very irritated that it was the hotel lady who was arranging for hotel pick-up. Apparently, the driver was having a problem with pick-up as the rains were very heavy and my mum refused to walk in the rain to the van. The lady then wanted me to talk to my mum (via the driver’s phone) to try and convince her to take the hotel transport, and suggested I can use my own mobile (read: roaming charges - hello, woman?) to call him. She then suggested I can go down to the hotel reception to call him, and that was when I blasted at her and said of course I can’t leave my room, can’t you hear my child is crying because your damned, troublesome phone call woke her up?!

So I hung up, unplugged the phone, and thought that doesn’t sound like my mum – she would want to come to the hotel quickly, I’m sure. So after I patted Rosabelle back to sleep, I called the reception again and the lady said the driver said he would settle it himself. As they rightly should! Why should I be playing mediator and peacemaker when service staff are inept? Sheesh!

In the end, my parents and Simon finally reached the hotel past 7pm, and gave me the full story. It was raining heavily when they arrived, and obviously, with two elderly folks and a young kid in tow, they did not want to walk in the rain (or in my mother’s words, all fall sick on the first day of their trip), and told the driver they would wait till the rain had stopped, since he did not have any umbrella. Much later, with no sign of the rain letting down, my mum asked the driver for an update (i.e. what should they do now) and the driver was very rude, saying ‘等吧!你不是要等,就等吧!'. He was very angry that my mum refused to walk in the rain, and asked my mum to get her own umbrellas. When my mum said she will claim the money from him, he of course refused. Then when she said she will grab a taxi (since it’s at the sheltered area), and ask him to reimburse, he of course also refused. My mum was naturally angry since as the driver, and the local, he should have the umbrellas, and the contacts/solutions out of this, so eventually the driver relented, and asked them to wait for him at the second level, the departure hall. And he could very easily have done this at the beginning – he picked them up from the sheltered area as other people were dropping passengers off – he just had to make a detour somewhere and drive up. Goodness! Such lousy service!

Anyway, maybe Rosabelle overheard us talking in the adjacent room and woke up crying – thank goodness for Prince Charming Simon who quickly went over and received a very warm welcome from our Sleeping Beauty…
Just nice as well, she’d slept for close to two hours, and we slowly got ready to head out for dinner. The rain had lightened to a slight drizzle, and we were able to venture out, but not before I made my discontent known to the ‘transport lady’ at the reception, chiding her for daring to bother me, and letting her know that the service was sorely lacking in picking up my family that day.

I was forewarned by our driver to ignore those trishaw riders offering to pick us up to 美食街 outside the hotel, and true enough, one were harassing us for about 50m as we walked to the restaurant area just less than 10 minutes from our hotel, saying that it was raining, and the restaurants charge a lot etc etc, until I had to say that ‘美食节的东西谁吃啊,你去找别人吧,别烦了!', before he backed off.

We then wanted to go inside a restaurant recommended by the hotel staff, but strangely enough, when we went into their entrance, we got ushered into a side door into another restaurant. Thinking they served the same thing, I realized we were in the restaurant that we passed by earlier, serving mainly BBQ food. Strange… not wanting to change a place so late as it was already 8:30pm, we ordered some foods, and the servings were really huge, as you can see.
Our girl fed herself well, but kept wanting to try the BBQ chicken even after I told her it was spicy. She of course cried when I finally offered her a bit, and had to rinse her mouth well – that taught her well… After dinner, we actually wanted to walk around the area a little but my mum was feeling rather cold, so we headed back to the hotel instead. (Only thing we saw was this same restaurant serving a marsupial outside at RMB268 a serving- who can eat the cute furry thing?!) When we reached the lobby, ‘transport lady’ said she was calling my handphone all the time, claiming that the driver picking my brother and Boa up did not see them and had left 50 minutes after their plane arrived. I called my brother but he did not pick his phone up, so we left it at that.

Rosabelle was happily wanting to go to Simon’s room all the time to play (even though we both have deluxe rooms, my parents' is strangely much smaller than mine), so that allowed me time to bathe and get ready for bed. By the time my brother and Boa arrived, it was already close to 11pm, and apparently, they did not see any signages with their names at the airport. He gave the hotel staff a tongue lashing, especially after discovering that the rooms do not come with a bath tub as he had requested, and they actually upgraded them to a suite, free of charge! Haha… it does pay to make yourself heard at times like these!

It was a tumultuous route for them to get to this reunion, but it felt good to see them all again, and that night, Rosabelle went to bed only way past midnight as we got ready for the next few days of travel!

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