So as I mentioned in my last post, my school is located within the National Tennis Center. Our school building is actually underneath most of the "ground" (it's not really ground because the school is located on the ground and what I'm talking about is actually the roof of the school) around the Lotus Court (The National Tennis Center has three courts. In order of increasing size and importance, they are Moon Court, Lotus Court, and Diamond Court.) Our school building is used once a year for the China Open. This of course, means we are closed during the China Open. It also means we get some free tickets to the tournament. The teachers got two tickets each to Moon Court, but I learned tonight that some people got tickets to the Diamond court (I learned this from a student I ran into in the Diamond Court who got apparently three free tickets from the school - yes, I'm a little jealous).
Since Moon Court is the smallest court I assumed (correctly I might add) that as the tournament progressed fewer and fewer matches would be held in Moon Court. Thus I chose October 5th and 6th for my tickets (I returned from Baotou on October 4th). On Wednesday I had a fantastic day. I arrived at Moon Court during the first set of the first match of the day. I watched three matches, two women's singles matches and one men's doubles match. The men's match was two Chinese players against Carreno Busta and Nadal. It was an excellent match and I had a fantastic time. I decided not to stay for the final match because I was coming back the next day and I felt a little tennised out. Unfortunately, my trip home was quite a struggle. I live 3.5 miles from the National Tennis Center. There is however, no direct mode of public transportation. To get from my house to school (aka the National Tennis Center) you have to take line 13 and transfer to line 8. This means that you are taking a rather circuitorious route (and is also why I have plans to get a scooter). When I arrived at the subway station yesterday I found a surpise: line 13 was not running. I had to take line 5 down to line 15 and then to line 8 (except I forgot to get off at line 15 and so I went to stops further to line 10 - which is a shorter transfer, so I did the same thing on purpose today). When I went to leave the China Open yesterday, there were a bunch of people who taking line 8 south so I decided to go north. I thought maybe it had been temporary or I figured I could take a bus from Houying or something. Well, when I got to Houying there were some professional signs that I'm guessing were explaining about the closure. I can't read Chinese very well and after reading the name of my stop and line 13, I stopped reading. The signs at the entrance to line 13 in my direction had been removed (they were still there going the opposite direction), there were signs (written only in Chinese) which said do not enter (I can read the important stuff afterall), and there was a woman standing at each entrance. I went up to one of the women and told her where I lived and asked how I should get home. She told me which bus to take and which exit from the station to take to find the bus. I followed her directions and found the bus stop. Then I proceeded to wait. And wait. And wait some more. Quite a crowd gathered, I apparently was not the only one who needed to get my stop. Finally, the correct bus came. We all started heading towards it. Then it turned off the engine, turned off its lights and shut down for the night. To say I was frustrated was nothing. I looked on my Uber app and it would cost a whole lot more to take an Uber from Houying home than it would from school so I decided to go back to the National Tennis Center. Along the way, I debated about whether or not I should just keep going and take the metro all the way home. In the end, I decided to get off and call an uber. Well, that didn't work. When I tried to call an Uber I was told my payment method was invalid. Now, I'm extremely frustrated. I left the tennis center about an hour earlier and I'm right back where I started. It's also well past dinner time and I'm hungry. I pick up some street food and a bottle of water and take the subway home. Two hours after I left the National Tennis Center the first time, I'm home.
On Thursday, I debate back and forth on whether or not to go to the tournament. I take a nap and when I wake up its 2 pm. As I'm looking at the schedule, I see that nothing in Moon Court even started today until 2 pm (rather than 12:30 the day before). Around 3, I'm bored and decide there are still plenty of matches to see. I eat a late lunch and head out. I get there are watch the end of a doubles match. I'm waiting for the next match to start and it starts raining. At first it is just spitting, but it gets a bit heavier and they announce that the match is postponed listen for announcements. I then spend sometime wandering around. I map out where different parts of the school are underneath us. It was actually a really cool thought exercise. Then I heard an announcement playing several times, but only in Chinese. I cannot understand the annoucement (between some specialized words I don't understand and the fact that it is a PA system, I simply cannot understand - something that frustrated me terribly). After I heard the same announcement numerous times, I decided to ask in the information center. The English in the information center isn't very good (the first woman couldn't do much more than greet me), but they were able to tell me that the matches were post poned until at least 7 pm. It was already 6:30, so I figured I would stay around. I wandered the booths (very elaborate booths more like actual buildings rather than what one would think of as a temporary structure) and contemplated buying a ticket to see the matches on the Diamond Court. The Diamond Court has a retractable roof (that was of course closed) and was the only court where matches were still playing. Evening tickets (from 7:30 onward) started at only 200 yuan ($30) and Shuai Zhang who upset Venus Williams in round 1 was playing at 7:30 and Rafel Nadal was playing at 9:00. I decided I had already ventured all that way, I should go ahead and enjoy it. I looked at the seat map on my phone and decided to buy the 400 yuan tickets (The best grandstand ticket you could get. Matter of fact, it was the best single day ticket still available). I went into the upgrade both and asked in English for a class A ticket. I got this panicked look and the two women in front of me started looking around. I then told them in Chinese that I speak Chinese, but I don't know how to say class A (meaning I don't know what term the use because I had read it only in English), but I want to buy a class A ticket. Did she understand class A? They replied that they understood and told me that it was 400 yuan. Then they told me they would give me a 10% discount (I don't know if that was because in order to be there I already had a ground pass which costs 30 yuan or because it was raining or why). I got my ticket and still had some time to kill.
At 7:30 I went into the Diamond Court building. It is nice (both the building at the court). Matter of fact the bathroom even has both toilet paper and soap. I took pictures of both (Strange, I know, but in China bathrooms don't usually have either of these items and the bathrooms for the other courts sure didn't have them).
Shui Zhang upset another person, much to the delight of crowd. I wouldn't be surprised if she wins the tournament. She seems to be on fire. Nadal beat up on Mannarino in the first set winning 6-1. I was starting to think it was going to be a blowout and perhaps a waste of my money, when Mannarino came alive in the second set. The second set ended up going to a tie-breaker. Nadal won the tie-breaker and thus the set (7-6) and the match).
As it was getting later and later I started checking the times on the last trains and getting more and more nervous (the Beijing subway shuts down sometime after 11). I couldn't find any information for line 8, but after a while it became a moot point because I wasn't going to make the last train on line 5 and I didn't want to risk it since my route home involves me getting a lot further away from school. Additionally, at the beginning of the match I reached 20% battery life and realized that after charging my powerbank I forgot to put it back in my purse. I was going to run out of battery if I wasn't careful and have no way to get a car to take me home. I switched the phone to airplane mode until the end of the game. I then switched it back to try to get an Uber to take me home. I had made some changes to my Alipay and so I thought it would work, but it didn't (Alipay is an app linked to my debit card that can be used to pay for things). I can't use my debit card directly in Uber because I do not have a national ID card (Alipay gives me the option of changing it to my passport number, which is the number my account is registered under). I then tried to link my Chinese paypal account to my Uber account. It wouldn't accept it. Now, I'm getting really nervous. It's pouring down rain. It's 11:30 at night. My battery is down to 14% and I don't have any way to get home. There is no way I will be able to hail a taxi the old fashioned way because thousands of people are using apps to call taxis and ride app cars and there simply are not any available taxis. They are literally all pre-booked. I'm praying and trying to figure out what to do. I cannot get my Uber to work. As I'm looking in my Alipay app (the first screen on which is in English, but anytime you move past the first screen it is no longer in English) and I see Didi Taxi. Now I know that Didi Dache (Dache being one way to say taxi in Chinese) is Uber's biggest competitor in China (actually they are merging) and since this is within my working Alipay app I think I can use it to get a car. I click on the icon and of course it now switches to Chinese. Thankfully I can read enough Chinese that I successfully call a car (I can type my address is, but it's a very slow process so I always copy and paste it). Unfortunately, I have 2 problems (or maybe three). 1) There are a lot of people and so even though it is almost midnight there is a traffic jam on this road 2) the drivers always call and ask where you are and 3) its pouring down rain (I know I've said this one before, but I don't want you to forget it. It adds so much to struggle. Just using a multi-touch touch screen as water keeps getting on it is very difficult). When the driver is about 1 km away he calls me to find out more precisely where I am (I guess the maps in China aren't as accurate at placing you as they are in the states. I've never had this in the US, but it is standard procedure in China). I try telling him, but I don't know very well how to identify where I am. I tell him I'm accross from the Lincuiqiao subway station, but he doesn't seem to like that statement. I also try to tell him I'm just south of Lincuiqiao bridge (qiao actually is bridge in Chinese), but again that doesn't seem to satisfy him. So I tell him, I don't speak Chinese very well, please wait a moment. I go up to a random young couple and in Chinese ask them if they would tell him where I am. The girl takes the phone and spends a long time speaking to the driver explaining where we are. I am growing very nervous as she talks longer and longer because I can just seen the battery dropping further and further (figuratively of course as I can't actually see it). She gets off and tells me the last two numbers on the license plate are 62 (something I already know because it shows the entire plate number in my app) and which direction he's coming from (by the way after I didn't know the Chinese word for license plate, she switched to English. See, there is some English in China. Oh and in my defense she didn't use the word license plate in English so I think she didn't know it either).
After a while the car came (explaining that it took him so long because of the traffic jam), he got me home driving me all the way to the door (he was insistent I told him he could let me out at the gate, but he wanted to take me all the way to the door) and paid him through my alipay app. I have never been so happy to make it home. It was about 1.25 hours after the match ended and the drive home took less than 10 minutes, but boy was I thankful to have made it home!