Eight-thirty am in the Lanzhou Hotel.
Rochester does not feel well. Bad flight last night. The plane tended to pitch. A scary old plane! Rochester hates flying. It would have been better by train, but two days was a bit long. In addition to the turbulence throughout the trip, there were hostesses who wanted to get him to eat prepared food in trays. Arrival in Lanzhou and transfer around 11 pm. Arrival at hotel! There he was told that there was no more room! There was a problem with the booking. Fortunately Wang was with him. He would probably have got angry.
Wang moved him to the bar, ordered him a whiskey and negotiated for almost an hour with a stubborn receptionist (he wanted some cash probably, some big fresh dollars to supplement his income). Finally, at one o'clock he was in bed. In the morning it was no better. He came down for breakfast. No way to get a damn coffee or some tea. Just Chinese breakfast, the very traditional rice porridge, salted vegetables (he who loves his toast with strawberry jam in the morning) and fermented soya beans (the spicy ones). In short, everything put him in a bad mood. On top of that; a hangover (whiskey the night before probably, because the glass ordered by Wang had turned into a bottle of something strange, even Breton whiskey would have been better). Wang finally arrived and his usual patience procured him a real coffee, toast and jam and even butter and yogurt.
"How do you manage to be so perfect as to solve all these problems which a barbarian such as I can never do."
They have lunch together.
"Mr. Rochester, the appointment is at 10 o'clock. There was supposed to be a visit of the factory, but it is not possible because the road is very bad and there was a serious accident last night. We’re going straight to the showroom where you can see their production. They’ve brought an assortment and you can decide what you want in the contract."
And so, it’s starting well! Though he would have liked to have seen the production unit. Every time he comes to these remote provinces it is almost impossible to visit the workshops. Maybe what he heard about the Laogai is true: that most of China’s textile production comes from the camps. However, he has strict instructions in his specifications regarding this, but how can it be checked? Squaring the circle again. We'll see, he thinks!
...to be continued...
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