As soon as my feet hit the arena of perceived combat, AKA, ‘the loo’, I was faced with a sight that shall remain with me for the remainder of my life, my pulse rate must have been going 250 to the minute, it then rose by another fifty beats, I was in utter shock.
There in front of me stood not a stiletto wielding, aggrieved taxi driver, but a very tall, totally bemused oriental gentleman, adorned only in his ‘Birthday suit, with a towel draped over his left shoulder. From where I stood, the only implement in his possession that could do me any harm, sat limply between his legs, that being the most enormous human male reproductive organ that I have ever laid eyes on, the tip of which dangled only inches above the patella region of his left leg.
He menacingly glared at me and yelled something none-too-pleasant, although I couldn’t understand one damn word of his tirade, it was clear that he viewed me as some form of fruitcake.
He then took steps in my direction, at which point I figured he was either going to whip me to death – or bugger the life out of me with the frightening tool that God, (Or the One-Party State) had bequeathed upon him – nope, he just casually strolled into MY shower cubicle and commenced scrubbing his huge, portly frame, angrily talking to himself as he went about the task.
I quickly re-entered the bedroom and grabbed the telephone to call hotel reception, then anxiously relayed the fact that I had an intruder in my lodgings. Seconds after replacing the receiver, I heard a hefty knocking at the door, on opening, I was faced with no less than four hotel staff, one of which was a very tall European woman, and one who had a disturbing facial similarity to that of Irma Grese, adorned in leather, knee-length jackboots she was too.
This party of hotel employees brushed past me in a most lively manner and began searching, firstly in and behind the wardrobe, followed by an under-the-bed inspection, before moving out to the balcony, all in a bid to apprehend my intruder.
I attempted to explain that my uninvited guest was actually taking a shower, (Oh Lord, this dilemma sounds all so preposterous now) to which I received a finger over the mouth gesture, this from the apparent senior member of the group, telling me in-effect to say nothing at this stage of their investigative proceedings.
As they went about their business, frantically chattering in some indecipherable language, it dawned on me that the insubstantial towel remained wrapped around my left hand and the soap-on-a-rope still tightly coiled around my right wrist, hitherto, in my highly-agitated condition, I had completely overlooked the fact that I had been unclothed throughout the entire debacle.
My nudity had had seemingly had no effect on Irma, she didn’t even blink an eye when I answered the door – I must make mention to the distressing fact that this particular situation did little for my recently, faltering psyche, (Getting old is such a drag too) – “She must be a lesbian” I mused to myself reassuringly, this as I hastily draped the hotel-supplied robe over my still-wet and dripping frame.
Everything then became incredibly quiet – and utterly motionless.
The water falling from the showerhead had ceased; the hotel entourage had too, become silent as they stood collectively still – in a concentrated huddle at the foot of my bed – not even the heavy city traffic below could be heard, this astounded me as the balcony door was wide open, yet, nothing – one could have heard a pin drop most definitely, the tension had become quite unbearable.
Ultimately, I was to discover that my concerns regarding personal safety had been totally misplaced; in this particular hotel they had a system in situ where two separate (Family) rooms shared a toilet and shower, hence the reason that I had a secure lock on both my main door and that of the WC.
No one had informed me of this set-up when I arrived at the hotel, hence the confusion and panic that ensued – a most embarrassing experience – with my all too apparent ignorance certainly not being bliss on that most unhappiest of days.
As it transpired, when the crisis eventually settled down and the hotel ‘heavies’ returned to their respective rooms or offices, I lay on the bed and slept for over nine hours, subsequently missing my free dinner and complimentary flagon of ‘House’ Beaujolais – still, breakfast the following morning proved to be something of a banquet – and I gorged myself accordingly.
For the next forty-eight hours, I aimlessly wandered the streets of Guangzhou – struggling to be truly inspired by anything that I saw during this short-lived visit to the grey and murky metropolis, oh, how I yearned to be in Thailand, this leg of the journey could not come to an end soon enough.
When the moment to depart finally did arrive and my aircraft lifted from the runway en-route to Bangkok, I reflected on the time spent in this corner of the huge Chinese empire, and then scolded myself for not being more tolerant and more embracing, the Chinese people, a large majority of them, do not enjoy the luxuries of their more well-heeled countrymen after all, what I did learn was that those who were fiscally blighted, turned out to be amongst the most friendly and most accommodating people that one may find anywhere in the world.
My overall experience had been an education – a period of crude erudition yes, but one day I must return to China to resume my learning in order to grasp a fuller understanding of this ancient nation and it’s vast cross-section of peoples.