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The Trip Starts July 3, 2005 and ends August 25, 2005 (see route & schedule)
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Chinese Customer Service (Negotations)
Dunhuang -- Tue, Aug 9, 2005
Today we spent the day in Dunhuang -- famous for its sand dunes and incredible landscape. We decided to have some fun and rented a jeep to take us deep into the desert; dreams of getting stranded in the desert should begin...

As we headed to the shop to get supplies, the Jeep promptly stalled -- a sure foreboding of what was to come. But he hoped out -- took some newspaper, lit it on fire, through it into the engine, and we were off again.... how's that for a starter.

We went for about two hours, through desert graves, barren desert, dunes -- only with about 10 stops to adjust this gasket or that lever... but I started to become at ease because our driver seemed to know how to solve all -- a regular McGuiver. Then, just before he was going to let me drive (thank goodness I didn't), something blew and a gushing noise flowed up from the bottom of the car. We all jumped out of the car and took a look at a pool of oil sinking into the desert sands -- we weren't going anywhere...

We were in the middle of the desert -- luckily with plenty of water, but with little shade unfortunately. It was about noon and there were few places to hide and under the car was off limits. Two hours (!) later, a car came to pick us up and atthis point we weren't too happy. (I was actually kind of liking all of this -- but did expect to get my money back).

We mentioned that we wanted a refund and it was time to "go to the office". What proceeded was 3 hours of talking to this guy, his brother, his assistant, her secretatary, their cousin, the manager of the manager, the president but not the real one, his aunt, and her long lost twin. Why... not really sure... Fang Wen Guang and Wen Ray's repsonse "this is china. this is how we do it".

The first response to our request for a refund was that we should pay for the broken jeep -- WTF... Then came threats of calling the police because we were in an area that is forbidden for foreigners (but didn't they take us there...). Then saying they would give the money back if we wrote a letter saying we would drop the issue and then renegging and only offering part of the money...

Luckily this place also ran a motorglider business to take flights over Dunhuang. I actually really wanted to do this -- so we finally said -- how about you take all three of us on flights and we will call it even. These were flights that they charge more for than we paid for the Jeep in the first place.

At this point, I think they were sick of this whole process too and they took it. That's win-win; sort of; we got some great flights over Dunhuang and then our driver took us out on an ATV to see the sunset (he was actually a really good guy).

So what is the secret to Chinese negotations: I haven't a clue...

 

Trip Diary
Pre-trip
Stage 1: Shanghai - Nanjing (7/3 - 7/6)
Stage 2: Nanjing - Hefei (7/8 - 7/9)
Stage 3: Hefei - Xi'an (7/11 - 7/19)
Stage 4: Xi'an - Lanzhou (7/22 - 7/27)
Stage 5: Lanzhou - Jiayuguan (7/29 - 8/5)
Stage 6: Jiayuguan - Turpan (8/7 - 8/16)
Stage 7: Turpan - Urumqi (8/18 - 8/19)
Stage 8: Urumqi - Korgaz (8/22 - 8/28)

Date Title Location
Aug 23 Sweet Pain -- We Made It Korgaz
Aug 22 Uphill to Wind Lake Salima Hu
Aug 21 Biking The Prisoneer Highway Along the Red Pepper Mountains JingHe
Aug 20 Chinese Mothers TunHe
Aug 19 The Final Volunteer Day Urumqi
Aug 18 Urumqi, What a City Urumqi
Aug 17 The Last Day for Wen Ray and Fang Wen Guang Urumqi
Aug 16 Rugged Desert and The Police
Aug 15 The Second Lowest Place in the World Turpan
Aug 14 Toilet Paper vs. Prostitutes QiKeTai
Aug 13 Sunset is Nice, Biking in the Dark Isn't YiWanQuan
Aug 12 Meeting Our Match Hami
Aug 11 Dry to the bone Hami
Aug 11 Gobi Down Hami
Aug 10 Small Town China Small town on edge of desert
Aug 9 Chinese Customer Service (Negotations) Dunhuang
Aug 8 Let's Talk About The Roads Dunhuang
Aug 7 Kao, Kao, Kao Lamb's Barn
Aug 6 Sick Returns Yumen
Aug 5 Volunteer Day in Jiayuguan Jiayuguan
Aug 4 Being a Chinese Wingman Jiayuguan
Aug 3 The Desert Has Arrived QingShui
Aug 2 Talking Politics in China Zhengye
Aug 1 Biking the Great Wall Zhengye
Jul 31 Where's the Beef... No Lamb? Small Village
Jul 30 A Toilet Seat Would Be Nice WuWei
Jul 29 Being a Celebrity TienJou
Jul 29 The Faces We Pass TienJou
Jul 28 Volunteer Day in Lanzhou Lanzhou
Jul 27 I got a visa ;) Lanzhou
Jul 26 The Six Questions Lanzhou
Jul 25 Why Bike Across China? HuiNing
Jul 24 The Mountain Climbs Begin LongDe
Jul 23 The West Has Arrived YongChuang
Jul 22 Sick or Not the Kilometers Must Go On YongShou
Jul 22 Three Stages Down -- Five to Go YongShou
Jul 21 A Full Volunteer Day in Xi'an Xi'an
Jul 20 Leaving Relics at the Terracotta Warriors Xi'an
Jul 19 And I thought I was ok... Xian
Jul 17 Longest day ever TongGuang
Jul 16 No Hot Water Until 6pm Luoyang
Jul 15 Volunteer Day in ZhengZhou ZhengZhou
Jul 14 XuChang to ZhengZhou ZhengZhou
Jul 13 Zhumadian to XuChang XuChang
Jul 12 News Clip from Nanjing Newspaper Zhumadian
Jul 12 10 Days Down Zhumadian
Jul 11 Chinese law is not always written Xin Yang
Jul 10 Biking at Night Huang An
Jul 9 Easy Day to Lu'an Lu'an
Jul 8 Sad I Don't Have the Answer Hefei
Jul 7 The Chinese Countryside Quan Jiao
Jul 6 Teaching English in Nanjing Nanjing
Jul 5 Rain is a beautiful thing Nanjing
Jul 4 Happy Independence Day in China Changzhou
Jul 3 Hot, hot, hot in Suzhou Suzhou
Jul 2 Autism in Shanghai Shanghai
Jun 23 Autism In China -- An Amazing Day Beijing
Jun 18 Training -- Beijing to Baoding Baoding

 

   
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