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“Sheraton please”

"Sheraton please" I said in what I hoped was passable Mandarin – "Sheraton ching". I’d jumped into a taxi close to where I was staying in the suburbs of Urumqi, heading towards the centre of the city. Not decadence, just practicality. On my first day I’d trekked the five or so miles to the heart of the provincial capital. Tired by the heat, I’d decided to take a taxi, rather than walk, back to my lodgings, only to discover the fare was just a pound.

A return trip by taxi was simple enough. I’d a card with the address of my lodgings written on it in Chinese to show to the driver. But, at first, I’d been a bit flummoxed as to how to explain where I’d want to go in the centre, especially in a place about four times the size of Glasgow or Edinburgh. Then I’d hit on the idea of a landmark I might be able to easily find the address for in Chinese. Like the Sheraton Hotel I’d spotted the previous day. Bilingual website, so straightforward to track down directions, and five minutes effort to carefully transcribe the characters onto a scrap of paper.

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Seemed to work, even if the driver appeared a little confused as to why I stopped the taxi a little short of the hotel. The website indicated they preferred Category 3 guests, but, whilst I’d not been able to access details, I’d a shrewd idea I probably didn’t fit the profile.

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4 responses to ““Sheraton please””

  1. Myles says:

    Another great entry Ken. On your trip so far how many times have you camped versus staying in some sort of lodgings?

  2. admin says:

    Thanks! Not used the tent that much in Central Asia or China, largely because of lack of cover to tuck away out of sight, and because a room for the night – especially in China – is usually very cheap. Suspect that if I wasn’t travelling solo – which makes me very security conscious – I’d probably camp more

  3. Myles says:

    I don’t know why but In my mind I had visions of nothingness and impossible to find any other accomodation through the Steppe. Clearly perceptions have caught me out again.. When will you be passing thorough Thailand.. Ill be in SE Asia from Sept onwards for some months so if you pass by there will be a place for you to stay and catch up.

  4. admin says:

    Depends where you are in the desert – there are whole sections – perhaps 50-100 miles at a time – of absolute nothingness. And then a truck stop – pretty run down, but you can grab a simple room for about £2 – gets you out of the extraordinary winds / electrical storms / driving rain / snow – no, not making any of this up!

    Where are you at the moment? UK?

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