It's not uncommon to have to travel internationally for work. Some people even enjoy being able to experience a whole new culture while doing what they love. One man, however, got more than he bargained for when he embarked on his work-related journey to China. By the end of his long, frightening journey, he was simply glad to be alive.
William was an international lawyer. He'd grown accustomed to traveling for his job and appreciated the fact he could experience different cultures on his travels. One day, he was tasked with going to China to talk to a few clients and he figured he'd get the casual Chinese experience, book a few clients, and go home happy and healthy.
When he landed, he realized he didn't really have any work-related plans for the day, so this would be the perfect opportunity to see what China had to offer. William knew better than to stumble around like a lost tourist, though, and he quickly called his Chinese host, Lin Hi, for recommendations.
"By chance, some of our executives are actually getting together to get some crab tonight, if you're interested," Lin Hi told William.
William was immediately interested and figured this would be a great chance to network, too. Lin Hi gave him the details and, an hour later, William met up with the fellow execs and, just from looking at the assembled group, he could tell this was going to be an interesting time.
When William saw who he'd be dining with, he noticed there were at least a few Americans --- all female --- and the rest of the group were Chinese natives and Lin Hi, their host. He could tell there was a bit of awkward tension in the air, as the American women looked uncertain about something. William decided to break the ice with a little bit of small talk, which seemed to lift up the mood of the women and help everyone relax. However, a few minutes pass by and everyone started wondering how they're supposed to get to this "restaurant."
Finally, after about 30 minutes, a white van approached to pick up the group, which William couldn't help but get some sketchy vibes from it, but he played it cool. They all piled into the white van, but after about 20 minutes into the drive, William started to notice they were heading AWAY from the city instead of INTO the city. William kept looking out his window in horror as the city's skyline became smaller and smaller. He asked the Americans if they might know where in the world the van was taking them, but they all simply shrugged and shook their heads. The only thing everyone, except Lin Hi, knew was that they were "going to eat crab."
All William knew was that this better be the best dang crab he'd ever had in his life because this situation was getting sketchier and sketchier by the minute, and it was about to get even sketchier.
An hour later, they'd finally reached what seemed to be their destination.
The van turned into a small, darkly lit alley and William's warning bells were blaring at this point. He decided to text his wife, Sally, and let her know what was going on. "It's probably not a big deal, but this is strange," William texted to her. They all got out of the van and William couldn't help but notice how the van peeled off, tires literally screeching. What in the world had he gotten himself into?
All of a sudden, a group of men riding motorcycles approached the group and each motorcyclist had just enough room for each one of the execs. Lin Hi told all the executives to hop onto the bikes to reach their final destination. William along with a few other American execs couldn't help but give Lin Hi a skeptical look. The men didn't seem to be the friendliest people either. They were all angrily screaming Mandarin at each other and everyone else. Even the little Mandarin that William knew couldn't help him understand what had made them so upset. All of the female American execs refused to get on and clung to each other, obviously terrified. Eventually, probably due to all the screaming and the fact that everyone else had hopped on, the American women eventually gave in.
William would soon regret not siding with the American women and being more forceful about his reluctance as they all rode into a living nightmare.
The bikers took the executive crew into the deep country and William watched the sun slowly slink down the horizon, meaning pretty soon, they wouldn't have any light to assist and orient them on where they were. William decides to text his wife again because his survival instincts were kicking into overdrive. He warned Sally that they were still driving further into the country and he had no idea what was going to happen next. He mentioned that he felt like he and these executives were in grave danger, but he'd do his best to keep her updated. "I love you," William texted Sally, not knowing if that would be the last time he'd ever be able to tell her.
Another hour ticked by and they reach a deep, dark grove. William looked around, but all he could see were trees and brush. There wasn't an ounce of civilization in front of them for miles, and yet this was supposed to be their next stop. Lin Hi told everyone they needed to go through the woods in order to reach this mystical crab restaurant. At this point, all the American women were holding hands and stayed close to each other as they walked into the heart of the woods. Everyone was quiet on the walk, but William could tell no one knew what in the world Lin Hi had up their sleeves. When they finally reached the edge of the forest, William and the other executives couldn't believe what they saw.
At the edge of the forest was a large, dark lake, and what awaited them at the end of a dock was the crappiest-looking boat William had ever seen. The boat was a very small dinghy that looked like it'd traveled oceans, lakes, and rivers for many years. William noticed an old man sitting by the outboard motor, beckoning them to get into the boat. Lin Hi ushered everyone to the end of the dock, where William felt like they were actually walking the plank to their doom. Lin Hi kept saying, "It's fine, It's fine. We'll eat lots of crab." But the faces of the American women and William were anything but calm, and even the Chinese natives seemed a bit skeeved out by the situation.
Regardless, they all got on board the boat and everyone exchanged nervous glances. Not only was the location of this boat extra creepy, but they wondered if they'd even be able to fit everyone into the small sitting area. The old man definitely smelled of fish, so they knew they were on the right track. What none of them would foresee, however, was just what kind of "meal" they'd traveled hours to get to.
Their "captain" briskly introduced himself as Captain Shin, then he pushed through the small crowd to start steering. Everyone's stomachs were growling and the pain of hunger headaches were starting to kick in. They were on the boat, so where the heck is this "crab" Lin Hi kept going on about?
Water kept splashing around them as the tiny boat struggled to make it across the lake. The American women huddled close together, shivering, and William could've sworn one woman even had tears in her eyes. Because this boat seemed like it was on the brink of death and the group was packed in like sardines, it seemed like it'd take forever to get the boat across the water. William checked his phone again to see what time it could be and to maybe text his wife Sally. His heart dropped as he realized he didn't have any cell service at this point.
William just kept looking out across the water for any sign that he and his traveling companions weren't about to be executed. It was completely dark, with no stars or anything to light their way. He couldn't help but think back to his flight coming into China. How everything was so much simpler and exciting. How could one simple question --- a food recommendation --- lead to this apparent kidnapping? He just wanted some good crabs, dang it! Well, it seemed like he and his colleagues were coming to the end of their more than four-hour journey into the Chinese wilderness when he saw what looked like hope on the horizon.
William and the executives saw the one thing they definitely didn't expect with this killer set-up: lights. Actual, honest to God lights. William saw there were both lights floating on top of the water near another dock, but also outdoor string lights outside of --- amazingly --- a large, old houseboat. William's mouth dropped as he realized that despite all the red flags and creepy vibes this entire trip had, they might just survive this trip.
There was another figure waving to them at the edge of the boat and William quickly realized this was to be their "restaurant host" for the evening. William could smell what seemed like a delicious amount of seafood waiting for them and he scratched his head in disbelief. Captain Shin carefully pulled their tiny dinghy close to the well-lit houseboat.
After watching Captain Shin carefully tie the two boats together, everyone climbed onto the houseboat and, surprisingly, they found a door that leads to a small restaurant-like area. The area was small, but it fit their terrified group. Once everyone was seated, William let out a sigh of relief as they were each handed a whopping serving of crab. The journey back took just as long, and at this point, William knows he'll have down at least five cups of coffee to make it through his back-to-back meetings the next day. Once William made it back to his hotel room, he was sure of one thing: this would be a travel experience he'd never forget.
William couldn't believe the journey he and the fellow executives had to make for this elusive "crab." It honestly wasn't even worth the trip, but at least he had an interesting anecdote to tell his clients during any awkward pauses. To this day, William wondered why in the world they had to travel so far just to get a bit of crab. It's possible this "crab" Lin Hi talked about was, in fact, illegal. Apparently, during mating season, it's completely illegal to catch and serve crab in China. William figured that fact alone would at least explain why Lin Hi didn't want to explain the long journey and eerie conditions of their dinner, especially with the number of times they'd switched modes of transportation. Whatever the reasoning, William was relieved to come back home and tell his harrowing tale to family, friends, and coworkers.
For years, William would tell his nieces and nephews about this bizarre story. William learned that some trips really are worth the journey, but it's probably best to steer clear of others, even if the end result is a good one.