Sept 5, 2011

After arriving back from our scare at the Summer Palace, we changed clothes, showered and took a brief nap to recover from our adventure. A few hours later, stomachs rumbling, and the sun shining, we decided once again to give China the benefit of the doubt, and head out to get some dinner. After all – rain storms in China didn’t happen twice in one day. So out we went.

We headed down the street to a little authentic Chinese joint, where we ordered with the phrase book, and attempted to enjoy one of our last meals in China. We discussed our plans for after dinner. Right down the street was a store called “Wu-Mart” -which was the Chinese version of Walmart. We needed to get a suitcase, preferably one with wheels, and the other day we had seen one that looked to be good, and didn’t cost too much! Plus we needed a few other random items. We paid our bill, and headed for the door.

We peered out the door of the restaurant. It was, raining. Nice. We now had to make a decision: We could either walk back to the hostel now, and maybe escape most of the rain, or we could go to Wu-Mart, do our shopping and take a cab home. We opted for the second choice, we raced through the parking lot, across a street and into the store. We checked out luggage, picked up a few random items, browsed the cereal aisle, tipped over a laundry soap display, and debated over a few toothbrushes.

Suddenly – Dad wasn’t feeling good. He needed a bathroom. But where was it? Obviously everything was in Chinese, and there weren’t signs with arrows pointing the way. We asked a worker. “Bathroom?” She looked hopeless, but grabbed a random customer with a younger kid. The Chinese tend to teach their kids English as well as Chinese, so this was our best bet. “BATHROOM?” I asked the kid. “What?” He looked confused. I tried to think of a hand signal for bathroom. But none were fitting. I finally gave up and took off running through the store, most likely giving the impression that I was the one who needed a bathroom!

I headed down a moving sidewalk escalator, a Wu Mart employee came running up to the edge, and peering down at me, he began yelling loudly in Chinese. He seemed very VERY angry about something, I think he was upset that I was standing on the wrong side of the escalator or something like that, but I couldn’t be sure. Finally I stepped off. I found a bathroom, found Dad, and gave him directions to get there – forgetting all about the “No toilet paper in bathrooms” standard that China has.

About ten minutes later, we ran into Mom – who looked frantic. She said that Dad had returned, having no paper, and needed some. Pronto. Unfortunately the Wu-Mart store had three levels, and we were all on a separate level. I rushed off to find David and Amanda – we needed to enlist in the help of David for this task, and we also needed to check out the groceries and get back to the hostel soon, considering Dad wasn’t feeling good now. David and Amanda headed off to the bathroom and dealt with the same treatment as I did on the escalator. Apparently the man was just as angry at them as he had been at me!

FINALLY though we had everyone and everything. We loaded our bags up, and headed for the door – and to our dismay it was now POURING rain. In fact, they were piling sand bags up in front of the door, and pushing water back out of the entrance! ”Oh well” we thought – we were planning to get a taxi anyways, so it shouldn’t be too big of a deal.

“Alright, heres the deal” I proposed an idea….

“I will take Mom and Dad out and get them in a taxi.” The idea was so that we all didn’t have to get wet. Since the taxis would only allow four people in at a time, we would put Mom and Dad in one, show the driver a picture of where we wanted to go, then David, Amanda and I would catch the next cab. It sounded simple enough.

But it was anything but simple. I grabbed the camera, that had the picture of the sign where we needed to go, and rushed out into the rain. I bolted from the doors, and across the parking lot, which is where I discovered I was standing in water that went over my ankles. I sloshed through, jumping and leaping trying to make it to the road. The water was an odd combination of warm, and cold. A brown muddy color. I finally reached the road, rain drops, falling HEAVY. I waved at a cab, who sped by. I waved another – he too sped past. I waved down atleast five cabs, and none of the stopped. Desperate, I ran to one that was dropped someone else off, I swung the door open and the man rudely waved me off, yelling something. I slammed the door and he sped off.

I ran to the next cab, who did the same thing, only this time, he picked up two other people and then drove away. By this time I was MAD. I looked behind me and saw Mom and Dad making their way through the swimming pool of a parking lot. I ran back to the store front. SOAKED. I burst in. David and Amanda stood looking on, while everyone else in the store stared and laughed. Someone tried to sell me an umbrella. Couldn’t they see I was already wet??


I yelled. This of course worked Amanda up, and she ran outside to join me in the rain for a shower. She chased a few cabs down herself before realizing the hard truth – the cabs were not going to stop for us.

By this time Dad had already grabbed the suitcase and headed off down the road. David attempted to buy some umbrellas and Mom took off after Dad.

We took off after them a few minutes later, only to discover one of the umbrellas – was broken! It wouldn’t stay open. I wedged it open, finally getting it to stay, but as we crossed a street, I spotted an angry looking Chinese man. He started shaking his fist while walking towards us. As we approached him, and he us, he took a swing at my umbrella muttering something to us as my umbrella collapsed. I turned around and thanked him, sarcastically while marching off, with the broken umbrella in tote.

About half way back, it got worse. With rain pelting down, suddenly there was a loud crash, and lightening started to streak across the sky. With three lightening rods ontop of our umbrellas we picked up the pace. Screaming and jumping at every bang. We had never heard thunder quite that loud before! Just to give you an idea on how loud it was, a few nights prior – in a thunder storm, there were car alarms going off. It wasn’t the little rolls of thunder we occasionally hear here in Ketchikan. These were loud BANGS! Followed by giant streaks of light going across the sky. It probably would have been something worth seeing if we weren’t stuck outside trying frantically to get back!

Just as we rounded the corner to our hostel, there was a loud BANG! And a woman came out from an alley. Scared silly, Amanda and I took off running.

It was then we decided that there would be no more puddle jumping. It was also when we realized that the hostel “Dryers” were useless to us -those laundry lines on-top of the roof would do us no good. Instead, we hung our clothes up inside on hangers and anything else we could find, slipped into the only dry clothes we had, and went to sleep for the night. Convinced we had probably seen the biggest storm in China’s history, and thankful that we had lived to tell about it!!

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