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48 Going to China 4

 The plane Gun-Ho was on landed at Hongqiao International Airport in Shanghai, China.

Gun-Ho became busy looking at the surroundings such as buildings and business signs once he got off the plain.

"Is this your first time in China?"

"Huh? Oh, yes, it's my first time."

"This airport is an old airport like Gimpo International Airport in our country. There is a new airport in Pudong, just like Incheon International Airport in Korea. That's why a flight leaving Incheon lands in Pudong, and a flight leaving Gimpo lands in Hongquio."

"Oh, I see."

"Since this airport has been here for a long time, you can find Korean restaurants and Korean consulate in this area. The branch offices of many Korean banks such as Industrial Bank of Korea and Kookmin Bank for Shanghai are all located here as well."

Mr. Byeon showed Gun-Ho the Korean consulate and the Korean bank branch offices.

"I chose this flight route to this location for our trip because you might use this airport frequently in the future. We actually have an airport close to Hangzhou City where my restaurant is located and that would be the fastest route to get to the restaurant. However, I chose this airport for your future convenience."

Gun-Ho didn't pay too much attention to what Mr. Byeon had said. He was too busy looking at the people on the street and the buildings in the area.

"We can take an express bus here to Hangzhou City. It takes about two hours."

Mr. Byeon took Gun-Ho to the express bus terminal. The terminal looked similar to the one in the province in Korea.

"Hangzhou City is like a state capital. You can think of it as a city where a provincial government is located. It could be Daegu City or Gwangju City in Korea."

The express bus looked the same as the one in Korea. After passing by a huge Canola flower field, they arrived at Hangzhou City; it was already after sunset. Hangzhou was a big city like Shanghai. Gun-Ho and Mr. Byeon took a taxi after getting off the bus. Mr. Byeon was fluent in Chinese. He said something to the taxi driver, and the driver nodded his head.

"I told him we want to go to Mando Hotel located in Haebang road. My restaurant is located on the 8th floor in the same building."

"8th floor?"

Gun-Ho frowned as soon as he heard 8th floor. Gun-Ho thought the first floor was a better location for high foot traffic. 'Can they get customers on the 8th floor?' Gun-Ho thought. Mr. Byeon explained when he sensed Gun-Ho's disappointment about the location of the restaurant.

"The restaurant has an excellent view from the 8th floor. In addition, it is one of the few Korean restaurants in Hangzhou City, so we do get many customers even if it is on the 8th floor including tourist customers in a group occasionally."

Gun-Ho thought tourist groups should be very good customers for a restaurant. However, the fact that he couldn't speak Chinese bothered him. He had to rely on Mr. Byeon for every single thing.

They arrived at Mando Hotel. It was not a huge hotel but looked cozy. Gun-Ho had seen other hotels from their taxi ride on their way here; they were all big, unlike this Mando Hotel. Gun-Ho and Mr. Byeon went up to the 8th floor in the elevator. There was a standing signboard that said 'Korean Restaurant' written in Chinese inside the elevator.

As Gun-Ho and Mr. Byeon entered into the restaurant, the restaurant staff greeted them without bowing though. No one even slightly bent their head to greet them. They all said something in Chinese, which Gun-Ho couldn't understand at all. Gun-Ho looked around and he was amazed.

"The restaurant is very large and clean maybe because it is located in the same building as a hotel. Even the floor was carpeted."

Gun-Ho had a hard time believing this large and clean restaurant is only 50 million won. He then realized when he was about to leave the restaurant that he wouldn't get anything since there was no security deposit required.

"That means I have to make a profit and save that profit up during the whole time I'm running the restaurant. If I look at it that way, 50 million won is not cheap."

The restaurant had about 20 tables, and only two of them were occupied at that time. Mr. Byeon asked Gun-Ho to sit and wait for him in the backside of the restaurant. Mr. Byeon started talking with the staff. It seemed like the restaurant staff was reporting the things that happened during Mr. Byeon's absence. After a moment, Mr. Byeon came to Gun-Ho with a lady who looked like in her mid-20s.

"She is one of our staff; she is doing interpretation too."

"I'm Mae-Hyang Kim." She spoke in Korean.

She extended her hand for a handshake with a smile. She seemed like a Korean living in China.

"I'm Gun-Ho Goo."

Mr. Byeon then said as Gun-Ho and Mae-Hyang shook their hands,

"We have eight staff in total here. Ms. Mae-Hyang Kim is our serving staff, and she also does the interpreting. I don't ask her often for interpreting, but if you take over this restaurant, you will probably need her pretty often for interpreting. She is a very good interpreter."

Gun-Ho looked at Mae-Hyang again.

"Are you a Korean Chinese by any chance?"

"That's right."

Mae-Hyang responded with a smile on her round face. She had a bit of an outdated style but she was cute.

"Who is the cashier? Mr. Byeon, are you the one who is handling money?"

"No. We have a local lady from here in Hangzhou City. Do you see the lady over there who is taking payment from a customer?"

"Oh, I see."

"I've reserved your room in this hotel for your convenience. Your room is downstairs, number 706. Here is the room key. I've already talked to the hotel manager to give you a discounted price for your room."

"Haha, I appreciate it."

"Why don't you unpack your luggage in your room and change clothes before dinner. I will meet you in the lobby after an hour. Let's have dinner in the Chinese restaurant across the street."

"That sounds great."

The hotel was small but it had everything it needed. The room was as good as a newly constructed motel in a province in Korea. Gun-Ho took a shower and walked out of the bathroom.

"Oh, TV is here."

Gun-Ho turned on the TV.

A Chinese news anchor was talking in Chinese on TV. Gun-Ho, of course, had no idea what that news anchor was talking about. There was a brochure on the table next to the TV. It was a hotel brochure and a map for tourists.

"They are all written in Chinese letters. I had learned Chinese letters but these look different from what I had learned."

Gun-Ho studied Chinese writing and reading and obtained a level-3 certificate for it in addition to a certificate for Korean history. It was a part of the preparation process for government and private sector jobs. So he was supposed to be able to read Chinese letters, but he could recognize only a few letters from the brochure.

"I guess this part explains about the emergency exit, but all I can read is the word 'safety'."

Gun-Ho laid down on the bed while thinking.

"The restaurant is nice and neat but I'm not sure if I can make money with it."

At that moment, the phone started to ring.

"Hello?"

Gun-Ho answered the phone in English; 'hello' was one of the few English words he knew.

"I'm Hee-Yeol Byeon. It's almost time. Let's meet in the lobby downstairs."

Mr. Byeon took Gun-Ho to the restaurant across the street. There were two huge lights about the size of a desk hanging on the main entrance. The restaurant name was Seohochancheong.

"Wow, it is a very big restaurant."

The restaurant's serving staff were standing by at the entrance side like a guard before they assist their customers. One of them brought a menu book to Gun-Ho and Mr. Byeon. While Gun-Ho couldn't read any of it, Mr. Byeon started placing orders proficiently pointing certain dishes listed on the menu book.

"How long should I stay in China to speak Chinese fluently like you?"

"I don't speak Chinese fluently at all. I've been here for seven years, but you will learn very quickly since you are young."

"You are so modest, Mr. Byeon. You have spent seven years in China. That's amazing."

"I'm not just saying it, but you would be able to speak Chinese probably within two years. Let's have Chinese alcohol, Baijinwoo, the Kaoliang wine. I will talk to you more about my restaurant while we are eating."