No seriously. Someone just robbed me of $17. And if you go on Portland’s “Secret Underground Shanghai Tunnel Tour,” I guarantee you will be robbed as well. Let me explain.
You will be told that you are about to go beneath the streets of Portland, into what was once an underground city and a dangerous den of violence and human slavery – be prepared to be thrilled and chilled!
By which they actually mean, disappointed and bored. Didn’t see that coming, did you? While I never thought that I would actually be scared or run screaming from the tunnels, I would not have guessed that my main thoughts would center on trying to stay awake and, if possible, finding a place to sit down.
Maybe the excessively long introduction from the guide should have been my first warning. Let me sum it up for you: You are going to go underground. It will be dark. Watch your head. (Any guides currently reading this are free to steal that for future tours.) Believe it or not, it somehow took twenty minutes to say that.
Once underground, we were shown into one big room, also called a “basement” by most native English speakers, but for the purpose of this tour was called a “tunnel.” We were there for the better part of an hour while the guide droned on and on with stories (a few of which were sprinkled with actual facts, imagine that!) If only I had known that the main story was going to be repeated four more times in the other four rooms we’d be shuffled into, I would have spent less time trying to balance my flashlight on my nose, and more time bludgeoning the guide.
Oh, did I fail to mention at the beginning that you will go to only four different rooms (a.k.a. basements) and move a total distance of about 300 feet in the entire tour? Because that was probably worth mentioning. I know, because if anyone had mentioned it to me I would not have gone on this death-defying, spine-tingling tour.
In fact, after emerging from two hours in the dusty rooms, er I mean, “tunnels”, the scariest thing I saw was what I blew into my tissue. The tour promised mystery, and on that, I must say they delivered. I am still completely mystified as to the following:
- How on earth this complete shit ass of a tour continues to make it into Portland guidebooks as an attraction.
- How this tour is still operational as anything but a mean prank to play on your friends.
- Who the hell approved the application for this group of nutjobs as a legitimate, 501-C3 historical society? If I’d known they were letting just anybody do that now, I’d have registered my dog years ago. Lord knows he needs the tax relief.
- How it’s possible that our guide was an actual fourth grade teacher and yet she:
- Believes in ghosts (including one female ghost who apparently bought new clothes AFTER HER DEATH. How cool is that? Death be damned, here I come Ralph Lauren!)
- Accepts stories told to one young child by one elderly person to be actual historical proof. (Boy, the memory on that kid is a STEEL FUCKING TRAP, I tell you what! Everyone knows that no older person would ever tell a kid something untrue, like, oh say, Santa Claus.)
- Is under the impression that any movement of silver wind chimes placed in bar basements are proof of spirits moving from one world to the next. (Thank goodness it was that, and not the bar patrons stomping above us, or that would have been anti-climatic.)
- Is certain that no air reaches the “tunnels”, despite the nagging little annoyance that large groups of people somehow manage to breathe down there for almost two hours.
Do you hear me, you people who keep voting down pay raises for teachers? Take a crap job, give it a crap salary, and these are the people you get teaching your children.
I have to go now, seriously, I’m going to file that paperwork on my dog.