How to visit Harbin’s Police Station…
It should have been simple. I had the Airport shuttle, line number and Bus stop written down. And I did get on the right bus at the airport. I just completely missed the bus stop. It’s even more ridiculous as the bus stop names were said out loud over the intercom. It’s just that the actual pronunciation and what I imagined the pronunciation to be – were completely different.
So once I was at the train station at the end of the bus line, I started trying to find my hostel with no real instructions. The ‘information’ desk in the train station was no help, but I was swarmed multiple times by very enthusiastic bystanders trying to help.
First was straight out of the bus. About three people all looked at the name of my hostel which I had in my note book but could not decipher the English. So one person got out their phone and called someone who spoke a little English, but this did not really help either.
I tried three taxi drivers and a Tuk tuk driver. No one recognized the English name of the hostel.
Cursing myself for not having a back up plan and at least getting someone to write my hostel address in Chinese characters, I tried to see if there was any internet in a big fast food joint. If there was, I could look on the map and find where I was in relation to my hostel. No such luck.
Outside again in -19 degrees Celsius, I was besieged by another helpful group of originally five which narrowed and grew in size over time. I must have given off a lost vibe even though I was trying to look purposeful and find an internet café.
Again no one could recognize where I was trying to go and I spoke on two different phones to people who spoke some English but not enough to know what I meant.
One man in this group finally started to gesture up the road. So, ready to try anything by that point I said thank you and waved goodbye to the rest of the group and went up the road around the corner and to what turned out to be the police station.
One Police officer took my note outside goodness knows where and then came back.
Another one rang a person who spoke English. Thankfully she had quite good English and figured out what I meant. They then rang the hostel for me. The lady in hostel reception tried to give me another bus number and the bus stop to get off at, but I could not catch some of the letters when she spelled the name of the bus stop out to me.
Just when I was about to start up with the ‘So that’s B for bravo, C for cat ..’ routine she told me to hand the phone back to the police. After a quick conversation on the phone, two of the policemen actually drove me to my hostel. One even got out and came in to make sure that it was the right hostel.
I was amazed at how nice and helpful everyone was to one lone lost tourist.