Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Look, I Just Want Some Dinner

I should write about my trip to Baltimore and mystery con stuff, but I'm so worked up over this food issue in Beijing that's it pretty much put every single thought out of my head.

Yes, I am at the work-related conference. And I suppose that all sorts of wonderful goodness is coming from all the networking that is going on, but all I can think about is the fact that this frigging hotel has NO FOOD. Let me back up. I did not actually register for the conference, but my employer put down a shitload of money for a eight foot by eight foot booth. I thought something was strange when I did not get the normal registration packet that I saw everyone else carrying. I was sent off to some hinterland to receive a worthless satchel with a program in it, but most importantly, NO MEAL TICKETS. I didn't realize the significance attached to the desk clerk's admonition that I was only allowed to eat at breakfast. Fine, there seemed to be a few restaurants in this bizarre hotel, no worries. HAH!

Except that one restaurant is closed for repairs. And the other restaurant, where I was lucky enough to get lunch yesterday, shoos away customers when it gets filled up. Literally, some very polite woman escorts you down the hall AWAY from the restaurant. You are not allowed to wait for a table. Tonight, I went there early, right after conference table duty, so that I would get a table, and it's closed until 9 o'clock at night. I had cookies for dinner tonight. Yes, that's right, a package of cookies. That's after a lunch consisting of a banana that I'd squirreled away from the breakfast buffet.

I'm beginning to hate this hotel.

This is the strangest place for a conference. We are in the middle of nowhere. It originally was (and remains) a small amusement park with spa amenities, probably in a former lifetime it was some hide away for communist party bosses. It is staffed by kids. Literally, the average age of everyone working here is around twenty-one. They are all very polite, but the English is very limited, and you get the feeling that they say yes to all questions.

And what really fries me is that being in Beijing, there is, naturally, a heavy contingent of Chinese companies that have booths, and THEY are getting food from somewhere. I see them eating from nice little take-away stryrofoam containers, while the rest of us starve in our booths. SOMEONE in the hotel is providing them with food, but not relaying this to the Westerners. It's REALLY beginning to piss me off.

I go to the Great Wall on Friday. My one day of sightseeing.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Aww... honey, I'm so sorry! What an absolute drag. My only advice is to find the manager of the manager and tell them that this is making them look bad to you and all the other representatives of our country. They're loosing face for China by not allowing access to meals. I always found that if you complain loudly enough and talk about how "losing face" the Chinese will eventually be bullied into listening. Or cry. I once cried to get a seat on an over-booked airplane. Yes, I know I'm shameless, but it was either that or wait till the next day. Hang in there.