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Expat's Eye
Print Edition> Expat's Eye
UPDATED: December 23, 2013 NO. 52 DECEMBER 26, 2013
Shower Follies in Fuzhou
By Duncan Cole


There are many enchanting things about this beautiful country! One of them that I find to be adorable is the innocence that comes with the lack of "mod cons." I refer to a hilarious night that my wife and I had in a Fuzhou hotel early this year. It did not appear to be hilarious at the time, but later we just laid back and laughed about it until tears were streaming down our faces.

We have taken a "single" room, which is a small room with a double bed—10 yuan ($1.6) cheaper that a "double" room, which is a slightly larger room with two single beds. At 11 p.m. we find that the shower nozzle is hanging down on to the floor, and we ring reception. Reception speaks to the floor "manager" who comes to the room and advises us that all single rooms have broken showers, and if we want a proper shower we have to pay the extra and move to a double room, which has two single beds. Of course there is the option of paying another 100 yuan ($16) and getting a single room, which has a double bed and a shower that works. We refuse point blank to part with another cent, or to "down-upgrade" to a double room with two single beds and a shower that works, so I start carrying on, and my wife starts getting heated with reception.

We are both killing ourselves laughing, behind closed doors, because you could not write a comedy skit this ridiculous. The unfortunate "manager" who is running our floor finally suggests that she might be able to find something with which to fix our shower. She also explains that the owner/manager, to whom complaints should be directed, leaves at 5 p.m. and does not come back until the morning. There are no tradesmen available, so our floor manager is all we have. She returns with a rubber band with which she attaches the shower nozzle loosely to the wall-fitting, and somehow a broken stream of hot water finds its way into our shower recess.

My wife cannot contain herself any longer, and bursts into laughter about our situation in front of said floor manager. I break my pretend dark mood and join in the gaiety. I let the poor woman know that we have no ill-feeling toward her, but that I will be posting some bad stuff on the Internet about the hotel. She agreed wholeheartedly. I never did any such thing. This is all part of the China experience. If you have Western expectations, then stay at home in the West!

My wife has just finished her shower, and now it is my turn—good night from the second biggest (soon to be the biggest) economy in the world, where a lot of things are fixed rubber band-style, and getting a hot shower in a hotel is sometimes hard work.

Of course, if you are a four or five star traveler then you will have no such experiences. I have been there and done that in a former evolution. Now I just want to see the real world, and meet the real people. My contention is that four or five star travel is just like being at home. Why would you go through the hassle of international travel just to have the same experience as home? If you want to stay at home, then I suggest that you do not get on the plane!

Now some of my best friends are people with whom I have shared the lifestyle of real Chinese. We all want the same things—a good future for our children, a life that is safe and secure, enough to pay for food, shelter and warmth, and no threat against our lives because of our beliefs.

This is all just good-natured observation, not criticism. There is a lot of humor in many situations in which one may find oneself in this wonderful place. Just keep an open mind!

The author is an Australian who visited China

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