So a kind PR girl invites me to the China Cup Regatta – basically a huge sailing race choc-a-bloc with bronzed men, sporting excitement and the promise of three days of paid for holiday. Great right?
1) It’s in Shenzhen and I just went to Shenzhen
2) It’s on a weekend and I don’t to waste my weekend on anything but bonding with V who is going to be in Bangkok next week. Yes, I’m back to being incredibly clingy.
3) I don’t know if any useful story will come of this so then I won’t be able to justify a compensatory day off for this.
See the problem with this trip is that though it sounds likea pleasure trip, I don’t actually want to go on it for the lark. I want a story dammit! Because I’m desperate. But this would be difficult to convey accurately to the bosses because it does really sound like a pleasure trip.
After much dithering, I decide to leave it up to them. Just to convey the wonder of the new boss (NB).
Me: So there’s this China Cup Regatta. Maybe we can do a story on sailing.
NB: But what? Because we already did a story on sailing and how locals are getting into it.
NB: There’s this big tycoon (insert name of tycoon) who owns this fabulous sailboat and we’ve been trying to get him to do an interview but he turned us down.
Me: Let me find out if he’s going to be there.
(It turns out that he’s going to be there)
Me: So it turns out that he’s going to be there. Should I try for an interview?
NB: But what are you going to write about him. I mean we don’t want him to just talk about sailing.
After all that, they okay the trip. Which I was totally not expecting. I am waiting for something to thwart this and my only help is the visa. That I won’t get it. When I call there seems to be some hope of this happening – the PR says that it might be too late to get me a visa to sail on the boat to Shenzhen and I might have to take the train which is my cue to back out on the grounds that I really want to go by the boat. Then enterprising PR actually makes my visa happen. Hmph!
The next day it turns out that while my visa is ok, the boat is not happening. Hmmm a sign that maybe I should not be going? Not. Then I get a call back that I should go down to the yacht club to sort out immigration because the boat is happening. This after running around the entire day in heels and concomittantly blistered feet.
Nevertheless, I rush over. It turns out there is chaos. They are not sure that we can get on the baot at all, and we have to wait nearly two hours the immigration to be completed. There is barely any food at the club and I am dead tired. Just when I am thinking of giving up on the boat, the visa comes through. I am now going to be getting up at 6 am to meet a boat at 8.30 am to sail to Shenzhen.
At 9 pm, I am out of there and manage to squeeze in dinner with V. I am too exhausted to enjoy it.
And that, in short, was my birthday.
PS: The disaster didn’t end there. The boat was an amazing catamaran even though the owner was a little weird. We saw the start of the race which was exciting. And then we sailed and sailed… for seven hours. And when we got to Shenzhen it turned out that our boat wasn’t registered with the Chinese authorities. So we had to wait for nearly an hour and a half till they sorted that out. Finally, exhausted and tired we were shuttled (an hour’s drive) to a hotel. Where were we fed dinner and I realised that there was going to be no activity and I was not going to meet the tycoon or anyone else because they were all at a separate cocktail party. And that I might as well have taken the train to Shezhen because they arrived in two hours and were not seasick. I ended up going to bed in a mediocre hotel only to find my way back to HK the next morning. The cherry on the whole experience was that I realized I had lost my notebook in which I had recorded interviews from the previous three weeks. Joy!