Saturday and Sunday were a little cold, a little rainy, and a little windy. Not ideal for a tournament, but we layered up and played hard. The logistics of the weekend were a little underwhelming, sometimes confusing, but spirits remained high. But through all the random annoyances, Matt has the weekend's best "worst weekend" story.
He arrived at the airport Friday night with a bunch of people on the same flight, only to find his flight departed 10 hours earlier. He managed to get standby for the last flight of the day, and arrived at the hotel on Ningbo University past 1am. The hotel had already closed (have you ever heard such a thing?) so he couldn't get in. A few passing students offered to take him to another hotel, and off they went. But! The campus was locked where they tried to leave, so they MacGyvered up some garbage cans to scale a 10ft wall. Around 4am, they arrived at a cheap hotel, which smelled and looked like it was worth every bit of the $7/night. He overslept and got lost finding the fields the next morning, and his phone died. Using what little chinese he knows, he managed to arrive at the field around noon, all smiles. He wins.
Monday was a Chinese holiday and rare post-tournament free day. After a few failed attempts at cheap lodging Sunday night, eight of us, dirty, smelly, and thoroughly unkempt, descended upon the Howard Johnson. This HoJo is probably the nicest HoJo in the universe, complete with free espresso in the lobby, a legendary breakfast buffet, rain showers, and eight (8!) pillows on the bed. Here's a handy tip for hoteliers: # of pillows is directly proportional to awesomeness of the room. That is a fact.
We all universally enjoyed the buffet, but none more than Tao. Fifteen minutes before closing time, he arrives at this luxurious buffet, with more choices than Crayola has colors. He only has time to get one plate of food, and when he returns, it is a mound, piled higher than it is wide, layers upon layers of ridiculous combinations. He blindly stabs his fork into the heaping mess, shoveling down whatever bounty it comes up with. At some point, Jeff suggests it might be easier to eat if he adds some kind of lubrication to the mix. Tao's eyes flash on his yogurt, and a brilliant idea is formed. Soon, Tao is plunging food into mixed berry yogurt by the forkful: dumpling/potato wedge/sausage; ham/spring roll/waffle; bacon/croissant/wonton. It may have been horrifying to our Chinese waitstaff and fellow patrons, but it was pure amusement to us. If Tao bothered to chew between servings, he hid it well.
Monday night dinner: matt, the chait, tao, alicia, shan, jeff, ace and me. Not pictured from beijing is jim, who unwisely chose to return to shanghai instead of tour ningbo with us.
More later, including loads of pictures.