One of the many benefits of leaving Piddledorf for good yesterday, is looking forward to normal toilets - the one at pension fund HQ has an inspection ledge that makes you wish for stilts and a gas mask.
Getting her car out of the garage to drive me to the station, the pension fund made her usual sequence of forward and reverse manoevres, ending up in the same place each time. Eventually, she seemed to come to a decision, and rammed decisively backwards into the gate post, smashing her lights. My smugness lasted until my own idiotic disaster, a few hours later.
On the train to the airport for the flight to Shanghai, I emailed Rodders about his Chinese trip. He replied in minutes, and I discovered that I need an entry visa for China, which I would have applied for long ago, had I known. The travel agent had only ever told me to get a USA visa (unnecessary because I entered via land).
Still on the train, my Internet allowance with the phone company ran out just after Rodders' email, so googling for solutions became impossible! Eventually I got the cellmate's discarded SIM card to work. The Chinese consul here was already closed for the day, and anyway they have a 4-business-day delay in processing applications. Arrival in China without a visa is treated as a crime, so my Chinese holiday would have been in a cell pending deportation. Well if they want to make it so hard for people to visit, eff them!
In a long, noisy and expensive phone call from a cafe, I notified the airline, but the (very bavarian) staff said they cannot amend my booking, that only the travel agent (fast asleep in another time zone) could do it.
I ended up staying up all night (in a hotel so awful I wouldn't have been able to sleep anyway) finding a solution. Around 4 am, just as I dropped off to sleep, a call came in from the travel agent, all chirpy "hey, you're off to Bangkok".
I lost my hotel deposit in Shanghai, but the hotels in Bangkok are cheaper. On the other hand there's the expense of insect repellent. It all balances up.
There were a couple of other disasters yesterday, but now things are looking up - in the past hour I found a 5 euro note on the ground, and gate-crashed the first class lounge for a 3 hour pig out on fine food and endless weissbier on tap. I'm just about full now and there's still cream cakes and organic Darjeeling to be tried. Then at last I'll get some sleep on the plane.