We are in a room that seems to work as a conference room/break room/office suite, at a table filled with people that do not speak English.
This doesn’t bode well.
In the end, we do have a translator – a young woman armed with a notebook and a mostly-working knowledge of our language. She hovers around the edge of the conversation J has with our client. The main jist of the conversation is that the haunted house pre-built and shipped from the states is set to arrive in two days. In the meantime, we are to go tour the site of a side project, a haunted train attraction. Up to this date, J has only seen a two second video of the path, but he sent props to create varied scenes reminiscent of what one might see in a haunted hayride.
We walk through the park to a small road blocked off by large potted palms and are instructed to sneak behind them to get to the trail, which consists of a looped road that is expected to take eight minutes to travel by ‘train.’
This is the first time we’ve heard that the attraction is actually a ‘shoot the zombies’ thing and not just a ‘look at the monsters’ thing. In retrospect, had I known exactly which part of the park we would be working in, I might have been able to find the press release that describes what attractions are being added in 2014. Which would have been useful.
Still, we have our location, and we have piles of shrink-wrapped pallets full of stuff to start haunting up the place, and we have at least two days to work on this before the main haunted attraction arrives from America for installation. So! Let’s start working.
It’s maybe in the low 90s today, and there’s enough shade to make the work site not bad at all. Pictured are some pallets of walls. Not pictured are the pallets of boxes and props. Definitely not pictured are the props that have been trashed during transit. The only tools we have are the hand tools the guys brought in their luggage, and the few small things I packed in my backpack…a hot glue gun, a staple gun, chalk, zip ties, a tape measure. Not much to work with, which is challenge #1. Challenge 2 is power. China runs on 220 volt. We need 110 volt. We have some adapters, but the power here seems to be a little on the unstable side, so we get a lot of surges. Also, you need plug adapters as well as power adapters. Which is something I hadn’t realized, so I’d just brought an adapter.
And of course that all sounds like Greek, so this is what I mean: power outlet -> adapter plug -> power converter -> power cord
The resulting pig pile of crap is awkward and heavy and tends to want to fall out of the power outlet. Additionally, you need to make sure the power converter is converting to the right wattage. Our converters had two options – 50 watts or 2000 watts. If you don’t choose the right one, your device might not be able to draw enough power..or it’ll draw too much power, and that means smoke and bad smells.
So it’s all very obvious and straightforward and not confusing in the slightest…
…And we fry a few converters in record time.
Still, I manage a small miracle of prop restoration that involves taking a thoroughly smashed styrofoam skull and gluing it back together again. (No pics, because I was ashamed of the whole project, but after seeing the final result, I wish I’d documented the effort…the one on the left is the uncrushed skull, and the one on the right looks much better than it has any reason to.)
The skulls under the thrones also needed some TLC. Anyone that’s ever worked with a Budget Bucky skeleton knows that they tend to fall apart easily under normal circumstances…after being shipped halfway around the world, these skellies were in much need of TLC. While the guys work on the fun stuff, I fix skellies and start to work on customizing reaper robes into something creepier-looking. (Enter blister #1, as it’s impossible to work with a hot glue gun and not burn the hell out of yourself a few times.)
The gluing fun pauses at lunch time. We’re instructed to go over to a specific restaurant in the park, where we’re warned that the food is Chinese.
I probably should have taken the warning look a little more seriously.
I am a timid diner. When in doubt, I will always order a burger. I knew meal time would be a bit of a challenge, but I didn’t expect…
I certainly didn’t expect a chicken foot to be in our soup. I also didn’t expect ice to be a rarity. Trying to get cold water turns out to be a daily challenge. Not that ice doesn’t exist…it just doesn’t belong in water.
Back through the Super Secret Entrance and to our slowly-haunted trail. It becomes increasingly obvious that (a) language is going to be a huge, huge issue and (b) there will always be about a dozen ‘helpers’ hanging out with us, not really doing very much. A main feature of this trail is a ‘witch gate’ that will straddle the path and needs to be stretched out a bit in the middle before being lifted into place.
…There seems to me to be reasonable doubt that this will happen any time soon.
We are instructed to work until 6:30PM, when we are to meet up with our driver at the employee entrance and go back to our hotel. There are several restaurants here, as well as a breakfast buffet that we visited briefly prior to our morning meeting. One would think that having the ability to eat for free would be a grand thing.
It would be, if you understood a single thing on the menu.
(The first photo is outside the hotel’s main entrance. The other two are of the lobby in front of the hotel’s main restaurant. There are crocodiles mounted EVERYWHERE. Apparently crocodile soup is a specialty here…)
Although we’re staying at a resort hotel, we struggle to find anyone that speaks English. We sit down for dinner and find ourselves surrounded by wait staff. One person tells us, in stilted English, that we must buy 5 meals, even though there are only four people at the table. We give up trying to understand that, and instead focus on the menu. Somehow, everything we point at seems to be unavailable. C, who has a fantastic ability to pantomime questions, gets something ordered…although it only ends up being 3 dishes, and the only dish that looks like something we’d eat is the one C picked out.
A woman who seems to be the restaurant hostess starts shoveling food onto my plate. I feebly protest, then give up and start saying, “Thanks, mom.” J shoots me a confused look. I shrug and nibble at a bit of rice.
We get through the meal and decide what we really need is a damn drink. And so we go exploring.