Perhaps I should have seen this coming, but the first woman I went to visit in China didn't show up at the airport where and when we agreed to meet. After a bit of communication, I learned that she simply lost her nerve at the last minute and decided not to go to the airport. Neither did she email me to give me a heads-up. She just didn't show up.
I had been communicating with her for about 3 months -- from about August of 2011 -- every single time via the Chnlove website. We had exchanged so many personal and intimate feelings and dreams, I felt we had a close relationship. Enough, I thought, to take the chance and go to visit her in person. I had the ticket booked from San Francisco to Beijing, and Beijing to Guangzhou. She was to take a relatively short trip from an outlying town to the arrivals hall at Guangzhou airport to meet me as I walked through the door.
One of the downsides for the men on Chnlove is, you can spend quite a bit of money before you ever get to meet the dame of your dreams, assuming they even show up. Still, I do feel it is still worth it. There are some spectacular women on the site, the likes of which you could never date if you met them Stateside.
I took it on face value that the lady I was to meet was advised to keep her personal contact information to herself until she met the man in person, so I didn't even have a cell phone number to text her on. The only means I had to contact her was her profile on Chnlove. By the time I arrived in Guangzhou, I had burned up probably $400 on communications with her through Chnlove, and another $1,000 for the flight and related costs. So, you can understand that I was a disappointed. Still, it wasn't about the money. I felt let down, and I didn't want this latest experience to make me bitter or cynical about Chinese women. I know women -- and men -- are the same the world over. Sometimes things just don't work out the way you planned, so I took the airport no-show in my stride and made the most of my trip.
After waiting for about three hours for her, I went to a small, local hotel, fired up my laptop and sent a letter to her via Chnlove. Was she OK? Was she late? I asked, although I knew the answer deep down in my heart. It would have been easy for her to find an arrivals hall in her own neighborhood airport. She had to have changed her mind, I knew in the bottom of my heart.
It would be another five or six hours after I sent the late-night letter before she would receive it, since it had to be translated by the agency, who wouldn't even be due in their office until 8 or 9am. So, it must have been after 11am when I got a reply from my no-show lady. She was so sorry she lost her nerve, she said. She "wasn't ready to meet me" and was "a little scared", and so on.
We traded a few more letters back and forth that day, but I was planning an alternative vacation as the day progressed. I stayed in Asia for the two weeks, travelling around, rather than pay for an adjusted flight and scurry back to the US right away.
I didn't get angry with her, but I was disappointed in myself. I should have had at least organized a few telephone conversations with her before I got on that plane to visit her.
I gave her another invitation to meet me in the same airport on my way home two weeks later. She couldn't meet me, she said, offering the excuse that her employer wouldn't give her the time off to make the trip to Guangzhou and back mid-week. I thought it was odd, really, since she was very eager to keep letters coming and the communications lines open.
That was that, I thought.
I knew if she wasn't going to make the effort to redeem herself by taking me up on the second invite, I wasn't going to fly again to China to meet her, and risk another thousand-plus-dollar airport stand-up. So, I quietly departed, and set her profile to <blocked>. There was no point in paying for any more $4-a-page letters from or to her. After standing me up in the first place, I felt she needed to do something big to show me she was genuinely interested, and she missed that second and last chance.
Now I am back State-side, chatting to a few more ladies on Chnlove. If I ever do make another trip out there, which I likely will, I will be sure to visit a woman who I know will show up at the arrivals. In addition, I will have a back-up plan. Right now I am chatting with three different ladies, all from the same town of Changsha. In another month or so, I will visit their fair city. Perhaps I will simply say that I am "visiting the city" and "we should meet up some time during that visit". That way, there will be less pressure on everyone, and if anyone is a no-show, there are at least two more in the wings.
What is the moral of this story?
Before you book any flights, you should at least have had a few telephone calls with your lady, and perhaps a few webcam chats too. As well as that, you should have her cellphone number and a way to contact her when you land. Lastly, a "backup" lady might not hurt either. If all that fails, and you truly are alone in a Chinese city, know that there are worse fates. Almost every tiny corner of China is interesting. Every back street, every country lane is stepped in history. Take out your camera and go for a walk.