The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Oh China …

I am spending a lot of time in China at the moment for work.

I won’t lie, this makes me very, very happy.

And while it is in Beijing more than my ‘home’ of Shanghai, it still gives me a very warm feeling.

That said, on a recent trip to Beijing, I had a classic #OhChina moment that made me smile.

#OhChina moments are – for people who have ever lived there – an experience where you cannot imagine it happening anywhere else in the World.

It is almost without question something slightly frustrating … created either because of cultural differences, a loss in translation or someone being a bit cheeky, lazy or shit.

In our time there, we had it all …

From hiring a painter who turned up with no paint or brushes because he said he was there to paint [and nothing else] to my mate discovering his cleaner was earning some money on the side by letting workmen cool off in the summer sun, by either sitting in his air conditioned apartment or – for a bigger fee – have a shower.

As I said, it’s frustrating and sometimes even annoying, but within an hour, you find yourself smiling and muttering, “Oh China”.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was in my hotel and went to get my laptop and passport that I had left in the room safe.

China has low crime – especially towards foreigners – but I put them in there as I was out most of the day and didn’t have a bag with me to keep them in.

So I go to the safe and the passcode doesn’t work.


I knew it was the right code and it registered as the right code but it did nothing.

So I rang down to reception to ask them to come check it out.

To be honest, this thing has happened to me before.

Once in Shanghai, the safe failed and they opened it by welding the doors off.

I still remember the feeling of confusion as I saw them come in and cover the smoke alarms … but they did it and I made my flight.

So back to Beijing …

The hotel sent up 3 people.

An engineer, a duty manager and some other person.

They kept trying to reprogram the safe but it wasn’t working.

Worse, the safe was built into the wardrobe and it was a ‘top-down’ model, so it was much harder to get to it.

So what were they going to do?

This …

Yes, that is the sound of them drilling.

Not the hinges, I should add … the bloody middle of the safe.

With a long drill bit.

So long it could go through the safe and my passport and laptop.

I asked them what would happen if they damaged my goods and they said, “we don’t know”.


But despite the potential for absolute tragedy, they not only succeeded, they did it with no damage whatsoever.

OK, so the safe was fucked …

… but my stuff was fine.

My favourite bit was when the manager worriedly asked if I’d taken any photos because he didn’t want anyone to think this was normal. Of course, the fact this has happened to me before meant it is pretty normal but the reality is the staff were very nice and apologetic and – frankly – it made me miss this country even more because it’s this sort of ridiculous that makes this country so infectious. At least for me.

Oh China …

18 Comments so far
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Any place, person or country that fucks you up is my hero.

Commie gold.

Comment by Billy Whizz

So you’re ok with your safe breaking in a hotel in China but you’ll lose your shit if a waitress in America brings you a coke zero with lemon. You’re very strange.

Comment by Bazza

Yes … that just about sums it up.

Comment by Rob


Comment by andy@cynic

Only you would be happy in chaos. That said, your love of China is very obvious and very nice to witness.

Comment by George

Is this your way of living out your rockstar fantasies.

Instead of throwing televisions out the window you break safes and showers? And yes, I have remembered the shower incident. I still laugh about it.

Comment by Pete

The shower incident?

Were you both washing each others backs?

Comment by Bazza

Sorry to ruin your fantasy Baz but I’m talking about the time Rob broke the shower at the Ace Hotel Portland just before checking out to catch a plane to see me. Apparently he told them but they were slow to react because W+K received a bill for room flooding.

Comment by Pete

They should have paid him for the improvements he made to their room.

Comment by Bazza


Comment by George

For some reason, I got the blame even though I was the victim.

Comment by Rob

everything shit in the world is down to you campbell its your only fucking accolade.

Comment by andy@cynic

These things only happen to you this consistently Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

Yes … I know … I remember I had a client that used to refer to me as ‘the magnet of mayhem’. Ha.

Comment by Rob

And none of these things happen to people in other countries?

Comment by John

why cant those commie fucks keep you in a safe and just let it never be opened again? thats what the world wants. their global image would be fucking massive.

Comment by andy@cynic

[…] the Beijing Hotel incident was […]

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