This time last month Tress Kiddo and I were on the highways outside of Hangzhou, in the province of Zhejiang in China. We left the city of Hangzhou early in the morning and was headed to Haining where the Qian Tang river was to undergo a very interesting phenomenon resulting in tidal waves. Thousands of tourists cramp along the banks of the river every year to witness this annual occurrence. It was supposed to be a spectacle and many in our group had made this trip to China mainly to see this. We came for a holiday and spend time with family but to these folks, the Qian Tang river tidal waves was supposed to be the main event.
There was only a small problem however – our bus driver. The little twerp decided to take a short cut and the usual 1½ bus ride ended up taking almost 6 hours and we still couldn’t find the river. It probably would not have taken that long had we surfed on the river to get there. We must have travelled on every inch of the highways circling around the city of Hangzhou and the detours and u-turns meant we saw a great deal of the highways and toll booths of Hangzhou but there was no river in sight.
The poor tourists in the bus were mostly elderly folks – mainly friends of Tress’ parents who were also subject to the merry-go-rounds – which compounded the problem. I know for a fact that with age, the bladder weakens. A stressed and panicky bus driver however, tends not to be aware of elderly passengers’ bladder problems. Some passengers began screaming for the driver to stop, threatening violence if he didn’t. I myself was ready to empty into any container I could lay my hands on.
We finally stopped at a toll plaza. The passengers made age defying sprints to a building next to the toll plaza, practically crying. We soon found out that the building was useless to us. It had only one toilet and there were about 20,000 old folks all critically needing a leak at the same time. The women queued up for the one and only toilet and the men busied themselves creating a dozen new ad hoc ones behind the building. I was one of those standing with our legs apart and swaying away, making sure we were not facing the wind. The initial cries accompanying the release slowly turned into laughter. The humour revealed itself only after the pressure is released, as always. We were more than happy to create our own tidal waves and weren’t the least interested, at least at that moment, in the QianTangRiver.
We gave up the adventure. We also gave up the driver. We made our way around Hangzhou and visited the city’s attractions with the help of another driver. We did get around to seeing the tidal waves the next day (with a different driver) which as a bit of an anti-climax. The story of the previous day however, was already created and it had nothing to do with the famous Qian Tang river or its tidal waves.