What a rigmarole to get to Hong Kong. Usually in China, you are allowed to book your train tickets 15 days in advance. During the winter break leading up to Spring Festival in 2014 I was told it was 20 days in advance. This year it changed, it was (surprisingly) 2 months. By the time Xiu Xiu, and I realized we could book, the tickets were all gone for the dates we had booked the hostel.
Ok, damage control time. Look at all the dates, and see what we can find. We will plan our trip around available trains, and not the other way around. We finally pieced together a route from Xuzhou –> Jiujiang –> Shenhen (Go to Hong Kong) –> Shanghai –> Xuzhou.
There’ll be more stories to come, all good ones after this one, but I will open with the “tragedy.” Lol
We had a full day’s layover in Jiujiang, so a quick Google search revealed we needed to go see the Lushan waterfalls. The map showed it to be outside of town, bus fare: 15¥ ($3ish) each way, and 135¥ ($25ish) each for an entrance fee.
We walked out of the train station to some misty weather. Went and found a (sketchy at best) place to store our luggage for the day, and went towards the area to find the bus. Some guy was trying to corral us (and others) to go to Lushan. He told Xiu Xiu the price of 15¥ each person, so we assumed he was collecting people for the bus to go to the park. We went with him towards the buses. My spidey senses started tingling when it was revealed he was a cab driver.
**All conversations with the cab driver were in Chinese**
Xiu Xiu reasked to confirm he was taking us to Lushan Park, where we could go see the waterfalls. He assured us it was where we were going.
This is when I should have said, “No, no, no, we will take the bus we know will take us there.” I know better, unless you know exactly where you are going/staying within the city, don’t take a taxi from a bus/train station (especially as an obvious tourist).
Hindsight, and such… Where was I? Oh yah…
He drove about a third of the time I expected, telling us how wonderful the waterfalls were, Xiu Xiu told him the pictures looked beautiful, so we decided to go and see them. We ended up in an area with a large new (empty) outlet mall, empty apartment buildings, and pretty much nothing there except an area fit for a movie set. Across from the ghost town was an arch (still having work done on it) which proudly displayed, “Lushan Park.” Maybe I was wrong, and he was taking us to the waterfall entrance like he said he would.
Unfortunately for all the times I have been wrong, this was a time I was right. We were about to get hit by the con. The park entrance had a ticket counter… Sort of a ticket counter. The cab driver followed us into the building. The woman at the counter said, “No tickets here, that way,” and she pointed to our right.
The cab driver is getting pushy with us now, “I will take you to the waterfalls, it is 25 kilometres from here.” We told him we wanted to just go with the park services, and weren’t interested.
Long tale short, other booth told us no tickets, this entrance was not open yet. The driver was super pushy now. Since we arrived at the closed entrance he has not been more than a few feet away from us, constantly chattering while we tried to discuss what our options were. His most direct statement was “Here are your options, you pay me $150 to drive you today, or I will leave you here and it is almost impossible to get back to the train station without me.”
Simple answer, “No, we’ll walk rather than pay your cheating self another cent.” We started walking to the road, and he chased after us telling us how stupid we were for walking away from his deal. He said (about) to me, “You are so cheap, you are coming here with your girlfriend, and you are just going to leave yourselves stranded rather than go see the beautiful waterfalls/park,” then to Xiu Xiu, “he is not a good man. How could he leave you stranded here without a way home.”
I had a good laugh about this. She already knows the cheapness is strong within me.
Although I usually prefer to call it frugality…
She also agreed with me, we don’t want to give this ill mannered sack of crap another dime. So, we turned our backs to him, and walked away more determined. He gave a last effort, “If you don’t pay me $150, you will be lost, and miss your train. We walked away. After a short walk, we were able to find a bus going within eye shot of the train station. “Stranded here,” my left foot, if he was going to extort money, he should have at least properly stranded us 😉 lol.
We enjoyed a decent (but slightly damp) walk around the lake, and took a break in a nice coffee shop, and we made fajitas in McDonald’s with food we brought from home.
Finally we went back to the train station, picked up our luggage from the shop holding it, and we caught the last train to Clarksville.
We were glad for our layover in Jiujiang to be over. We may have been cheated out of $6 doing something we knew we shouldn’t be doing, but it did save us $50-$60 on the cost of park entry. This is ok, because the waterfalls were a time filler, not something we were set on doing.
Lesson (re) learned: No taxis (especially from train/bus stations) to tourist sites unless we are staying in the city, and are willing to risk ending up in the wrong place. We already knew this, but we needed a monetary reminder. Cest la vie.