I was due to meet up with my 'team' at Shanghai airport and fly onto Chengdu. There are 8 performers in this ensemble and after 5 hours in Honolulu followed by 10 hours to Seoul Korea followed by a couple more to Shanghai I was ready at last for the social payoff.
My 'team' consisted of a lone Chinese guy holding my name on a card. I recognised him from an event four years previously where at a party organised by our benefactors I had come across him in the onset of alcohol poisoning,having noted over 10 minutes he had gone from manic to collapsed id taken him somewhere to vomit and actually jammed my fingers down his barely conscious throat to start him off then left him heaving in the cubicle, my alcoholic mother tereasa impression over and my hand washed thoroughly
So as is usual at any Chinese gig a great deal of openness to improvisational change is manditory.
Instead of flying onto our destination we went outside and caught a bus which for the next few hours wove into and throughout Shanghai, a city of 20 million or so.
Then we got off on a street corner and walked through what appeared to be a downtrodden but energetic university area. Noodlehouses and cheap accomodation and students wandering around doing that brittle fashion thing.
Then my assistant realised my hotel was further away than he thought so we caught a taxi and I was checked into the Greentree Inn. There is no tree, it is not green. No matter.
I boiled some tap water, popped in a teabag and its nighttime again, Ive just traveled halfway round the world and tomorrow at three pm I'm being picked up to catch a train for 3 or 4 hours to where it is I'm working.
Time to sleep I think. I think its sunday night and I haven't slept really since waking up back in Hawaii fri morning.
As I say it's all morph. I asked my assistant, the guy paid to pick me up and put me on a train who I'd once stuck my arm down the throat of,
“so is this train more than three hours”
He looked at me seriously and said “yes”
So given the train left at 5pm and more than three hours was after 8 I asked.
“What time to I get there?”
He said “about 9”
brilliant I thought. Around 4 hours and then meet up with people and settle in, my journey complete.
So four beds to a cabin, I got there early and thought I'd got it to myself but this is China and there is never an empty seat anywhere ever on a train. It says so in the train magazine I read in the carriage before I am flooded with fellow passengers. I've been travelling now into my third day. I throw my stuff on the front bunk and wedge myself around it for a nap.
AND WAKE UP JUST AS THE TRAIN IS PULLING OUT OF A STATION AT 9-30pm.
The inhabitants have all changed, more morphing. Now it's young students whereas before it was a dad and his two grownup sons.
I think I may have missed my stop so look confused. [years of training as a pantomime and human being] the young blokes just look at me sadly and with the sort of sympathy you'd extend to a mad cat-lady aunty who was staying for Christmas and smelt of kitty litter and sneezed a lot.
They motioned that where I was going was the end of the line. They did this by drawing a line and pointing at my ticket and then pointing at the end of the line.
I was confused but hid it perfectly by pretending to sleep. I did this for a further ten hours and at 9AM the next morning I came to Chengdu. The slightly over 3 hour trip was 14 hours.