Wednesday, 17 September 2014

What Do You Do For Money, Honey?

After my First week of work, which was a four day week, we (Keinan, Denise and I) set off on what would be another three day weekend. We left straight from school on Friday and took a taxi to the Train Station to set off for Guilin. Cabs here are great. They start at 7 Yuan and they don't move for the first 2KM so most cabs are fairly cheap. The exchange rate is 5 yuan for a Canadian Dollar so it cost us basically $1.50 for a cab to the train station. We catch our train and it's a little over an hour to Guilin on a train that goes 200km/hr. Such a great way to travel.

We get to Guilin and things are a wee bit different. The cabs expect to get paid up front so you have to negotiate with them right away. Fortunately, Eric (works for a school in Guilin, run by the owners of our schools but not officially affiliated) was on his way with their cab driver to pick us up. The cab driver gave me one of the greatest moments ever. He is a Chinese man who speaks zero english and his phone goes off, and his ring tone of his phone is: "Baby one more time." I still laugh every time I think of this forty year old Chinese man with Britney Spears first hit song as his ring tone. He gets us to our hotel and what an amazing hotel it was. It was 468 Yuan/night ($80ish/night)  for a room that all three of us could stay in. Denise had her own room and Keinan and I each had beds in the main area, and they were actually soft. Finding soft beds here is not easy. We had a great dinner with Eric that night and he had set up the next couple of days for us.

The next day we set off to a nearby village that had a great cave in it. This cave was incredible. It took us two hours to walk through it and then we had lunch in the town before heading to nearby waterfalls. This cave was big enough to have housed the Transformers. Incredibly cool spot and of anyone dares to visit me, I will definitely take you to see it.

We made the mistake of underestimating Eric on the waterfalls. He showed us a video and we were all basically like "it's nice, but a little dinky." You can climb up the waterfalls for an additional fee to the park but we all declined as we weren't sure it'd be worth it, and we were all hurting for money at this point.
The park itself is huge, and we finally make it the waterfall area and see the small waterfall and start the climb up. Well it is a huge series of waterfalls and you can climb up the waterfalls for a long ways. We should have done it as it was 35 degrees and humid but we didn't. Keinan jumped out half way through the hike and started swimming in the ponds at the bottom of the waterfalls (not allowed. You can climb the falls but not swim in the pools, go figure.) Keinan got yelled at by a couple different security guards, but no big deal. There was a zipline, a cart that drives you for the climb down the hike, and some other cool things, although you have to pay extra for all of them. Second great moment of the weekend comes as we're walking out of the park. Keinan had worn his regular shorts and then his swim trunks underneath and had walked without his regular shorts for the entire hike, just his swim shorts. He tells us in a dumbfounded tone that A) He had dressed himself with his boxers over his swim shorts and B) Denise and I had walked with him for over an hour and neither of us told him he was walking around with his underwear over top of his swim shorts. Denise and I both start laughing hysterically and can say that neither of us actually noticed that Keinan had his boxer over his swim shorts for over an hour. So awesome.

At this point we are all running our of money (I had already been borrowing from both of them, but now we are all low.) I attempted a Western Union transfer from my Canadian bank account but had only informed my branch and not Scotiabank that I was going to China so they locked my account, and I don't have a phone. Shit. So I emailed my wonderful parents and asked if they would wire me some money and my Mom did, and that transfer was confirmed by Western Union online. So Sunday we are getting ready to head to YanShou and all we need is for me to get the money transfer. Western Union online says to go to a certain branch of the Agricultural Bank of China. Perfect. The three of us checkout and head to the bank by cab. We get into there, and I'm about 18th in line so Denise and Keinan head to a nearby coffee shop. After waiting for half an hour someone comes over and I tell them I need to do a Western Union transfer. This is around 1:00pm. They tell me they can't do it at this branch today and give me directions to a different Agricultural Bank. A woman who spoke just enough English to help me worked there. They even write the directions in Chinese to get to the next bank which is a five minute cab ride away. I tell Keinan and Denise, and Keinan gives me 100 Yuan, which is half our remaining money to get a cab.

I get to the second bank and walk in. I walk over to the teller and she tells me they aren't open to do Western Union transfers either. She gives me directions to a third Agricultural Branch and writes it for to give to  cab driver, a further five minutes away. The third branch is not doing the transfers either. I'm starting to get kind of pissed off at this point. She gives me directions to a fourth branch, I pay for another cab and head there. That branch she sends me to a different bank altogether, the China Everbright bank across the street. I get there, and they won't do the transfer either. I left Denise an hour and a half ago, and I'm trying to figure out what to do because we need this money to keep our weekend going. I start walking and think and try a Bank of China to no avail. Then I remembered that when I was looking at Western Union in Liuzhou, they said Postal Services Bank of China. I go to the nearest one and walk in. All five windows are open and one of them is specifically labelled "Western Union." I actually shed a few tears of relief. After completing the transaction which took about 20 minutes I had the money to keep our weekend going. The Teller probably also thinks I'm nuts because I gave her a XieXie (thank you in Chinese) with a bow and then blew her a kiss. She definitely thought I was weird.

I now had a new problem. How to get back to Denise and Keinan. I didn't have anything with their location written on it, as Keinan had gotten Eric to text him the bank location in Chinese (Keinan is the only one with a phone at the moment.) It took me three cabs and another 45 minutes to get back to Keinan and Denise. I left them around 1:30 and got back to them at 4:10. They were inside a little pizza place and when I finally got back to them I stood outside the window doing a happy dance until they both noticed me. I was freaking exhausted. Anyways we are finally making our way to Yanshou at this point. And that will be the post I write tomorrow, as I am finally almost caught up now that I have internet access to this site, facebook etc. Until tomorrow,



  1. The Western Union transfer wasn't that easy either. I waited 30 minutes as it processed online before I called the help line. Nothing had processed so I cancel the transaction. I try again. It has been denied. I call to do it over the phone but with the automated system I have trouble there too. I call again to try one more time (swearing the whole time). Time is passing and I have my first University class starting in 40 minutes. Your dad is on the computer and checks email. There is a fraud alert on our visa. We call the bank. The Western Union transaction has caused this fraud alert. We get that straightened out and I try one last time. I am in a panic as I should have left for school, but want this done before I go. The transaction takes 2 minutes to do and then an email to you and it is done. It was 1 1/2 from start to finish, so you must treasure that cash!! What an adventure!

  2. Banks are retarded. Even if you had informed you bank and not just your branch, you might've been locked out anyways. That happened when I went to Indo, and I'd done everything right. When I finally got to a place where I could call them, they said that I'd had activity from Jakarta. To this I replied "uh yah, that's where I am, there should be a note on my file." They were like "oh yes there is a note.. so sorry about that.." They don't have a great system for out of country notification!!