Noilly Prattle: China 2017: 13 – an ATM “swallows” my card

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

China 2017: 13 – an ATM “swallows” my card

    Fenghuang, you might ask! Why Fenghuang?

     A little introduction to Fenghuang might be in order at this point:

old town Fenghuang  (from Rainbow Bridge)
hand drawn map of old town Fenghuang
     Fenghuang is one of several well-preserved “ancient” (as the Chinese like to call them) towns in China. The Chinese people tend to be rather proud of the continuity and longevity of their over 4000 years of written history and culture. Fenghuang, however, is not 4000 years old. It was built in the early 18th Century A.D. making it only around 300 years old—a mere baby. Some consider Fenghuang, home to the Miao ethnic minority, to be the most beautiful of the preserved old towns. The town is situated in a mountain setting with a river running through it. The wooden buildings of the old town are lined up along both sides of the river making for some very picturesque views. The scene is particularly stunning when the area is lit up at night.

screen grab of translation app.
      Difficulties with communication continued as a result of changes we wanted to make in our booking. The hotel (Fenghuang Weiyanghao Boutique Inn) owner himself was away on a trip to Beijing and his wife Yuan was managing the place in his absence. She spoke no English and relied on her smart phone translation app. to communicate with us. The translations were rudimentary at best. I needed to explain that we wanted to shorten our stay from seven to five days. That required some fairly complex language acrobatics. I downloaded a free translation app. for my Mac Air notebook computer and carried it down to the lobby. So Mrs. Yuan and I spent at least half an hour communicating by computer and smart phone until we finally came to an understanding of sorts. It was all pretty exhausting.

pavilion, plum blossoms and old town
     After something breakfast-like to eat at our Margarita restaurant (Soul Cafe) we wound our way around the maze of narrow streets of the old town trying to find the Bank of China with our street map. We heard the sound of percussion music and singing and stumbled upon a little square high above and looking down on the old town and the river. It was like a senior citizens center with many elderly people hanging out, sitting in a pavilion; a small group were playing some gong and cymbal-like instruments and singing. First an old man had a microphone and was singing when we arrived on the scene; then a old women in a red coat got up, took the mike and did her number. It was all really charming and heart warming. Some of the folks came over to help us find the Bank of China on our map and pointed us in the right direction.

rhythm section
the sweet singer of Fenghuang

the lady in red belting the blues
check out the beard

senior citizens center

cocktail hour at the Soul Cafe
     The the terror of terrors happened at the bank. No, not a suicide bomber. The ATM machine went out of order with our card still inside it. Frantic, we tried to tell the bank staff what had happened. Finally a young woman whipped out her smart phone translator and informed us that the ATM had “swallowed” our card. Well, yes, we know that, but what can we do about it? More fiddling with her translator and we were informed that a technician was coming to attend to the ATM machine and we should “wait”. After a not too agonizing interval the technician showed up and our card was retrieved and delivered to the teller. Further interminable checks and crosschecks by the teller to verify my passport information finally got the card back into my hands. Big sigh of relief!

      Wandered back to the hotel through the old town by a different route that just “happened” to pass through the Soul Cafe just in time for another much needed cocktail hour. Yess!

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