July 2: The next day it was time to meet some of DeQing's friends. That is, after a nice two hour visit to the pool.... DeQing brought me around to meet some of his business friends, and the Zengzhou chief of police. Definitely a good contact for when I get into trouble. The Henan people are very friendly towards foreigners, and from what I can gather, Americans are on the top of their list. So much for the anti-American sentiment when Uncle Billy bombed the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia. (Though there was still plywood over the broken windows of the American Embassy in Beijing on Thursday. And, other than Christine, I did not see another American my entire time in Beijing. And just the rare European). I get the impression that this friendliness is both genuine and forced. True, they seem to be a very warm open people. But, I can always find some sort of hidden reason for their wanting to be friends. A contact in the US means easier visa's and personal passports out of China. And I've been approached more than once by people who have wanted me to help them import American products into China. Like bicycles. To me, that made a lot of sense. They make the damn things here in China, we import them to America, put our names on them, and then these people want them back. I told all these people that I'd stay in touch. I still haven't figured out why the police chief was so friendly.
We made it to the Temple towards late afternoon. For now, I was going to stay in the usual shithole, the Shaolin Hotel, which was built when the government built the wushu guan for the monks. Unfortunately, I didn't get my usual room, as a group of four Chinese kids from Canada were in it. I stayed next door. For some reason, the hotel is cleaner than I last remember it. And surprisingly, the water is running all the time. At least, so far.
The officials have kind of put a twist to the water management, which threw me for a bit. Previously, hot water, if there was to be any, would run through the pipes at around 8PM, give or take a couple of days. We would use the Riddles trick (named after the great water wizard, Andrew Riddles), that is, turn on the hot water faucet, and wait for the air to come rushing out in some large disgusting pipe fart, thus signaling the near onset of hot water. You would then fill your bathtub or take a shower, if there was enough pressure, long before everybody else did, thus ensuring that you would have some sort of chance of finishing your bath before the hot water ran out. Well, this worked in the past, provided the officials heated some water at 8PM. (Historically, you had a better chance of seeing Christ walk naked on the wushu guan roof than getting hot water for a bath). Last year when I was here, I had been informed from reliable sources (remembering that reliable is not a word I've yet found in the Shaolin Chinese vocabulary) that the hotel was going to put a hot water tank on the roof, thus ensuring more hot water. I guess they haven't found that tank yet.
Well, the Riddles trick just didn't work this year. Until I figured out that the Chinese are now running hot water all day, that is, cold water in the hot water lines. And, so far, and I hope that I haven't just been lucky, hot water has come out of the hot water lines at 8PM. As for the Riddles trick; you have to turn on the cold water faucet. When they heat the water, they stop running cold water through the hot water lines and run it through the cold water lines. And after 9PM, the stop running hot water through the hot water lines and run cold water. Then they run air through the cold water lines. I still haven't figured out how the toilet (thank god for the toilet; you can't imagine the options....) gets water all day, that is, when the pump is running. Unless it's hooked to the hot water lines..... It's all just another attempt by the Chinese to confuse the Americans.