When my roommate and I entered through the front doors of the Four Points Sheraton in Changzhou, our mouths dropped in unison as we absorbed the beauty of the high-ceiling, chandelier lit, marble-tiled lobby.  As we rode the elevator to the 23rd floor, I read an advertisement describing the hotels beds as “900 pieces springs supporting your body,” and the fact that I slept in until 10:30 this morning attests to the coziness of the mattress.  The room itself, equipped with a flat screen tv (with CNN in English!), coffee and tea makers, and a seven-inch showerhead in a glass shower, would impress even the snobbiest of royals. 


Once I finally rolled myself from the comforts of the “900 pieces springs” this morning, I set out on a mission to find the one thing I’d been searching for since I arrived in China, a swimming pool.  To my delight, the fifth floor housed not only a large indoor swimming pool beneath a glass ceiling, but also a fully equipped gym and spa area.  After a few refreshing laps in the pool, I was able to enjoy a hot shower, blow dry and style my hair, and sing boisterously in a dressing room that rivals that of any five star hotel in New York City. 

When I arrived back at my room sporting freshly curled hair and feeling quite relaxed, my roommate presented me with a challenge.  She wanted to see the new Harry Potter film, and was wondering if I wouldn’t mind going down to the front desk and inquiring about an English movie theatre in the area.  While this would be a verily simple task in the States, it requires a bit more skill in China –most importantly one must be gifted in charades and fully willing to look like a fool in public.  I’m not one to brag, but these qualifications actually fit me to a T, so I accepted the challenge.

As I walked down the hallway to catch the elevator down to the lobby, I thought to myself how beautiful our view was from the 23rd floor, spanning miles and miles of the city.  Little did I know I was about to get a lesson in the disadvantages of staying on the 23rd floor. 

The doors opened and I entered the empty elevator. 

We stopped on the 22nd floor, three businessmen entered.

We stopped on the 21st floor, another three men entered.

We stopped on the 20th floor, a businesswoman entered.

We stopped on the 19th floor, a hotel staff member on the other side of the elevator took one look, said something in Chinese waving his hands in front of his body, and backed away.

We stopped on the 18th floor, one of the businessmen said something to the others in Chinese, and everyone (Well, everyone except me) chuckled.  Again the people on the other side backed away from the crowed elevator with surprised looks.

We stopped on the 17th floor, I exchange a glance with one of the younger businessmen, and instantly we’re both giggling.  A skinny man on the other side of the doors, bravely squeezed into the elevator with a determined look on his face. 

We stopped on the 16th floor, at this point I’m thinking to myself that I may have more space if I can just squeeze past the somewhat chubby businessman wearing an ascot with happy little sailboats floating on squiggle lines.  The only problem was, I would most definitely have to brush his bum in order to squeeze by, so I stayed put, but the thought made me giggle. 

When we stopped at the 15th floor, my giggle morphed to all out laughter, and I was joined by several of my fellow passengers on this eternal elevator ride. 

At the 14th, 13th (yes they have them here in China), 12th, 11th, 10th, and well all the rest of the floors, the doors continued to open to reveal a group of surprised faces on the other side, who inevitably backed away in shock and or fear…and maybe a bit of confusion, because all of us inside the elevator were erupting in fits of laughter with each stop. 

It wasn’t exactly as impressive as seeing an ancient temple or historic site, but I have to say, this was one of my favorite experiences I’ve had to date in China.  I have absolutely no doubt in my mind now that laughter is a universal language.  When I eventually reached the ground floor, the receptionist at the front desk regretfully informed me that there were no English cinemas in the area.  “No worries,” I told her.  “the trip down here filled my entertainment quota for the day.”