I just received this email from my new best friend in Yichang:
Dear Zhou Laoshi,
Thanks for your email.
It is my pleasure to help you & your friend.I would buy 2 first class boat tickets from Yichang to Chongqing. (2 beds in 1 room).The departure date is on March 5,2012.
If it is possible,please transfer the tickets fee in advice.
Zhou Laoshi….Teacher Zhou (my Chinese name)…that was the breakthrough. It wasn't my Chinese, it was in the final exchange where I identified myself as a teacher, not a tourist.
It wasn't the case of me having wandered away from my box…..I had just hopped into the wrong box!!