everything goes away in china

I know that my over focus on food must seem a little odd.  But really, it is remarkable how quickly finding something one can persuade one’s stomach to tolerate becomes of utmost importance…

Normally, I’m not a fan of eggs.  But this?  This is a truly beautiful sight.


…get the hell out of our way, we know what that is!!

Also?  This hotel has live animals on display in the buffet restaurant.  (There’s also live animals in other parts of the hotel grounds, but I personally never made it out that far to see them.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         animals 1     animals 2

The bird atrium has flamingos – two types – and scarlet ibises.  The tiger enclosure has two females and a male.  After the first hotel, this is all very surreal, I assure you.

We are also now close enough to the park that we don’t need to risk our lives in a car anymore.  This is an honest to goodness resort hotel, complete with walking paths to the nearby parks.  The kerfluffle of the day, however, is that the park is undergoing a government inspection today.  J was asked to hide all the tech stuff included with the haunt – all the TVs and video players and the like.  As it turns out, that’s already been done by the time we get to the park.  In fact, hiding things becomes a daily issue, with every morning becoming a search for things we just had the day before…everything from AV equipment to batteries to cables to zip ties to paint brushes.

This may be more maddening than it sounds.

As the inspection continues, our interpreter comes over and asks J if he could go decorate the trains now.  I jump in and tell him I’ll do it.  We have four boxes of blow-mold skeletons and I have zip ties stashed in my backpack.  In theory, I can deal with this project.

One of the English-speaking workers grabs a buddy and I follow them back to the zombie shoot-em-up attraction and down an access road, leaving the boxes of stuff behind for now.  And we walk. And walk.  It gets more remote.  Still walking.

I’m pretty sure I’m being punked.

After walking maybe 2-1/2, 3 miles, we get to a huge chainlink fence topped with barbed wire and padlocked shut.  On a hill behind the fence sit the trains and cars.  There’s zero chance of me getting to those cars, let alone dragging boxes of stuff to them even if the gate wasn’t locked.

I remind my escort that I need to get to those trains.  (And when I say ‘train’ you should picture a tractor sort of thing pulling two long cars.)

My escort looks confused.  He starts to talk to one of the people on the other side of the fence.

I am now well and truly sure I’m being punked.  I turn my back on the conversation and I start to walk back to the zombie train path.  After a few minutes, my escort follows me.

I walk to the boxes of stuff and I try to explain that all of this needs to get to the trains.  This is after I’ve grabbed a cart and loaded all of the boxes onto it, then pushed it towards where the trains are.  My escort – who now has 4 more guys with him – take the cart from me and tell me that the trains will be brought here in the afternoon.

This never happens.

I gesture to the cart and try to make it clear that these things should stay right here.

That doesn’t happen, either.

I go back to the haunt.  The boys are frustrated with standing around and so they decide to start assembling the haunt.  Most of the work was done in the US – the walls are painted, the props are ready to go, there are spots on the walls indicating where decor should go, and  the panels are all numbered.  Our location is a little confusing.  It’s a metal pole tent with heavy black plastic walls and ceiling over a cheap cement floor.  It may have been a dining area?  There are two tiki gods on the roof, which sorta match the always-closed Hawaiian restaurant across the way from us, and there’s a little concrete shack in the front of the location.  Because of the placement of the plastic walls and the gated queue area, there’s no way our facade is going to be seen…which is a shame, as it’s unique to the park and beautifully painted by Stuartizm Designs.

The guys start bringing pallets of walls into the haunt location and organizing panels by numbers.  We only have a short time of working alone, as we are fairly quickly joined by about a dozen Chinese helpers, who look at the blueprint and start working on the other side of the site.  Which sounds useful, but…not so much.

IMG_6243       IMG_6242

The strange angle of the second pic is because I took the shot while holding onto a section of panels, pulling out the next panel in line for assembly.  You see work at a stop because (a) they were going so fast they were putting panels up upside down and (b) the panels were not touching the ground.  The ones in the corner were level, but as construction went on, the panels were angling up.  I try to get their attention, but have to ask C to come over and make them stop.  As our helpers argue and tear apart everything they’ve already assembled, I point at one panel still waiting to go up and gesture for it to be brought back to me.  I then cling to all of the panels I have and gesture a very clear “NO DO NOT TOUCH MINE!!!” while clinging to the panels like a cat.

Haunting. It’s allllll about dignity.

The helpers finally go to lunch.  We do not.  But, as with pretty much every haunt I’ve ever worked on, the haunt layout is fighting back with the physical reality of the space, so having a crew that doesn’t speak English working almost at odds with the designer that’s trying to figure out how to make adjustments to the floor plan…it’s becoming a maddening experience.

Up until now, I though the most frustrating part of a build was being the person that everyone needs to talk to and get directions from.  That’s nothing compared to a dozen people that speak a different language, follow you around, and seem to be determined to work on things without direction from you…which makes things that much more complicated.

We go to a late lunch. I mostly just drink sodas.  It’s so very very hot.

More work, and an exhausted walk back to the hotel.  I realize I’m starting to get blisters on my feet.  The guys are all starting to get sores from their shoes as well.  We have plans to put together a list of things to do tomorrow…but we all end up just falling asleep instead. 



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