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2 Years Ago Today I Tried To Spend The Night In A Chinese IKEA

I've done a lot of stupid things, but to this day I think trying to sleepover in an IKEA in Communist China may be one of the stupidest. This was filmed a little over two years ago during my first stint in China when I was working as Donnie's intern. 

It was my idea to try and stow away from the night. I had seen the youtube videos of kids in Europe successfully pulling it off and my dumbass thought there was no way I couldn't do just the same in China.

To cover my bases I did wait until the end of my stay in China to attempt the stowaway. I figured that if everything went south I could just be like "Look I have a plane ticket out of here tomorrow, just let me leave and I'll never come back" 

Looking back on it I'm not sure how sound that logic was. It's not like you can be arrested and to avoid punishment just say you'll leave the country, but at the time I thought it was foolproof so I went for it. 

Heres the original blog I wrote right after the attempt back in 2018

My plan was simple enough, find a cabinet off the main path, climb in an hour or so before close, wait a few hours until the coast was clear, then roam freely about the store like I had not a care in the world.

I had to get the timing just right. If I got in too early I risked the chance of being caught by a customer still shopping, if I waited too long there wouldn’t be enough people in the store to distract the employees as I climbed into hiding.

Tucked behind a row of bunk beds in a children’s display room was a tall brown cabinet. It had just enough space so that I could sit comfortably in a vertical fetal position.

At around 8:30 PM I climbed in. The execution had been flawless. No one saw me get in. The hard part was over. All I had to do now was wait.

Fifteen minutes in it started to get hot. After twenty-five, I was sweating bullets. After an hour, it felt like a steam room. The walls were dripping with condensation, my shirt was soaked through with sweat. It was at that point that I wished I had been given a bottle of water instead of a bottle of wine.

At 10 PM I heard the announcement that the store was closing. A rush of adrenaline shot through me.

This is it, man, you’re home free. Another hour and the place is yours.

At 10:15 PM shit started to get real. The cleaning crew was making a sweep through my display room. They were just inches away from me at one point. I could hear their conversations as clear as day, I held my breath. I think it was around then that it dawned on me that I was in a communist country trying to stow away in a department store. I had no idea what the trespassing laws were in China.

Dude if you get caught here you could be seriously fucked.

My heart started beating a little faster––

Ba-boom- ba-boom-ba boom ba boom.

Suddenly my phone started buzzing on the shelf. My mother would regularly call me to check-in, being 14 hrs ahead she would typically call me late at night, mid-morning for her.

Jesus fucking Christ not now women! If you keep calling I’ll be returning your call from a Chinese prison cell!

To my relief, no one opened the cabinet, and 15 long minutes later the display room fell silent again. It was approaching 11 PM, a full hour after the store had closed. I told myself that at 1 AM I would be able to leave my hiding spot and venture out for the night.

Just as I thought I was through the thick of it I heard a small thud in the distance. It grew louder. I quickly realized that the other cabinets in my row were being opened and closed. Before I had time to think the cabinet next to mine was opened.

Fuck, this is it. You’re going to Chinese jail. Was all I that came to mind.

Seconds later the doors to my cabinet were flung open. I remained completely still, hoping that whoever was opening the doors might not notice me. Well, he did. It took the security guard a second to process what was going on. He did a double-take blinking slowly. It appeared as though he thought that his eyes were playing tricks on him. They weren’t.

I spoke first.

“Donnie said it was cool if I sleep here, guess it's not”

The guard just shook his head and pointed.

“Must now go!”

I got the message. I picked up my shit and made my way to the exit. The store was completely empty aside from me. As I completed my walk of shame out of the front doors I realized how close I had been to pulling it off.

I sighed. I was relieved that I was not in the back of a Chinese police car but disappointed I wouldn’t be living out my childhood dream of stowing away in a department store. It’s honestly pretty fucking absurd that I had no negative ramifications whatsoever for this. I was clearly trespassing, and yet I walked away scot-free. China is the wild west if you’re a foreigner. As long as you’re not selling drugs to the locals or shoplifting like LiAngelo Ball no one really cares what you do.