Day #1 (August 25, 2002)
Arrive Beijing; meet Norman at airport and transport to Tianlun Dynasty Hotel (Big lobby with artificial plants in a large revolving door and 2nd floor Venetian decor bar/restaurant in large open area.)
Day # 2 Beijing
buffet at hotel; first hot steamed buns; some with sweet bean paste inside
Tian'anmen Square: first "one dollar" hawkers off the bus (First, "bu yao")
Walked through square (large) with lots of people in the square and in line to view Chairman Mao's body in state since his death 9/9/76. (Norman stated that the line was short today!) Mao is loved by the general population.
Forbidden City: walked under busy street and through the many courtyards of the forbidden city. The movie, "The Last Emperor" filmed here. Viewed the buildings for the emperor, empress and all the supporting guards, eunuchs and concubine quarters.
Summer Palace: walked through the palace grounds along the lake and under a long covered walkway painted elaborately. Took dragon boat ride across the lake.
Lunch: at Friendship hotel built in 1950's by Chinese for Russian technical expertise. First lazy susan Chinese meal. Drink choices: beer, sprite, coke and tea.
Hutong Tour: Local guide, "Philip" walked us through beginning part of old Beijing explaining the unique architecture. Bought first $1 postcards.
Pedicab ride through the Hutong area. Brake was cord he pressed on - squealed.
Visit local Chinese family; Mr. Wu's house and courtyard compound. Mr. Wu is a retired archeologist and his two sons with families live in the courtyard. (Saw first pet dog outside Mr. Wu's house with a small group of neighbors playing with the dog.)
Visit Kindergarten: children pick adults from our group to dance with them and sing American songs. In outside courtyard children dance and sing Chinese ongs. Boys use the closest washroom (a communal bucket) outside. We give gifts for the children to the staff.
Garden of Prince Gong: walk through the garden with large rocks as decoration.
Tea House: tea ceremony in small groups. (Jasmine tea)
Leave pedicab driver: first tip of many to the local guides and bus drivers.
Dinner: on our own. We walked outside and had older begging man throw our money on the ground in disgust when we gave him unknown worthless fen. Ignorant tourists.
Day # 3 Beijing
buffet at Tianlun Dynasty Hotel
Jade Factory Tour: off bus at "factory" with short explanation of types of jade in noisy anteroom to "showroom". Large room full of jade jewelry and carvings for sale. Group shares beginning bargaining trials with each other.
Great Wall: travel to great wall and view smaller parts of a wall on the bus. Very foggy. but we hike onto wall among many other tourists and vendors with one dollar items. Can't see very far but get the idea that this part has been renovated when the end is found and the continuation is crumbling. (Bought jade necklace at shop in hotel.)
Cloisonne Factory and Lunch in same building. Viewed cloisonne technique and had 2nd lazy susan Chinese lunch upstairs with several other tourist groups in a big room. After lunch, downstairs was large shopping area with cloisonne, tea, jewelry, etc.
Ming Tombs: walked along the way of spirits with large statues, weeping willow trees and singing cicadas. Peaceful walk without many people.
Peking Duck Dinner: arrived a bit early so duck was not quite ready for 3rd lazy susan meal. First duck entree.
Returned to hotel and packed to leave the middle of the next day.
Day # 4 Beijing --------> Xi'an
Breakfast buffet at Tianlun Dynasty Hotel
Temple of Heaven: walked through area with several groups doing exercises (similar to tai chi ) using swords. Norman says he is too young to do these exercises. Oval area that is the center of the universe. Old buildings for contemplation some are original 1200 year old structures. One had ancient musical instruments. Continued walking through area where local people congregate (like a park) to sing, play Chinese chess, groups of women crocheting and vender stalls at the end.
To Beijing airport: fly to Xi'an ; Lunch on the plane Arrive Xi'an: meet local guide "Harry" drive into town (hotter than Beijing).
Stele Museum: walk outside to museum buildings with ancient stone tablets written in Chinese characters about local activities and poetry. Rubbings being done and sold. (Hot)
Transport to Sheraton Xi'an Hotel. Lobby not as big as last one but very nice. Our room big corner room with hall into room and hairdryer in cabinet drawer.
Met Montana family in lobby. The parents and two young daughters just arrived in Xi'an a month ago as missionaries. They are the first family to live in government housing as foreigners in Xi'an.
Dinner: transported to the bell square in center of town. Restaurant is in shopping mall area. The dinner is 4th lazy susan Chinese - dumpling varieties. Music is playing in background for another group. Insistent beggars on way back to bus at night.
Repack to check out next morning so we will not need check-on baggage for Lhasa.
Day # 5 Xi'an --------> Chengdu
Breakfast buffet at Sheraton Hotel
City Wall: Wide and high wall around original city. We walk a short distance and view contrasts of city life below wall. Hazy but good view around.
Silk Rug and Lacquer Factories: watch young women make silk rugs by hand (Usually cannot work more than 10 years since eyesight worsens and arthritis occurs in hands.) Lacquer factory workers putting on the many layers. One young child working. Joan and Tom buy lacquer table that will be shipped; I buy silk baby outfit.
Lunch at older hotel on the road. Bought pomegranates to share with 5th lazy susan meal.
Terracotta Warriors: Pit # 1 most impressive view of the original find. Walk around the large excavated room to view the rows of terracotta warriors and horses. Circular vision movie about the history of the warriors. Book signed by one farmer that found the first examples. Pit # 3 ; much smaller version of #1 with deep vaults cut and warriors facing in specific directions. Pit # 2; similar hall as # 1 with encased samples of specific types of generals and horses but very few visible excavated warriors in pit. Bronze Chariots Hall; bronze chariots with horses encased for view. Run the gauntlet of hawkers out of the terracotta warrior museum area.
at airport in Xi'an (6th lazy susan)
Dishes being washed in washroom.
Fly to Chengdu: (ate dried tofu on plane) David sat next to Norman. He revealed his joy for drawing after seeing David draw his rabbits. He drew a Chinese temple In David's notebook. Meet local guide, "Leon" at about 9:00 p.m.
into Chengdu reveals cosmopolitan town for city center.
Arrive at Holiday Inn: very fancy hotel with best rooms so far (great shower, and beds with feather pillows) Wake up call for 3:30 am!
Day # 6 Chengdu -------> Lhasa, Tibet
buffet at Holiday Inn 4:00am. Huge buffet for every ethnic style.
Last repack for no-check baggage to Lhasa.
Fly to Lhasa at 6:00am. Breakfast again on plane at 7:00 a.m. (Sat next to Tibetan man who ate his breakfast quickly but did not touch the dessert cake. He washed with the after meal warm cloth which turned brown from his hands and forgot to give it for the garbage pickup. He put it on my tray and later had a major nose blow episode.)
Off plane to cool air and mountains all around. Felt like home temporarily. Airport crowded with first smelly squat toilets washroom and long line. Met local guide, "Mandy" On bus he honored us with white silk neck scarves as a sign of welcome and purification. Two hour bus ride to Lhasa and hotel.
Tibetan family visit: along route to Lhasa stopped to visit family on main road. Felt like a voyeur. Family courtyard design with damp earth in open courtyard. House consisted of kitchen with yak dung on one wall for winter fuel - very dark and smoke smell. Other rooms were Buddhist shrine room and bedroom with several beds neatly made. One daughter had a 2 month old baby. Grandmother had white medical patch on her weathered face. We gave members of the extended family small amounts of money. They were desperate to get what we would give.
Next stop on the way to Lhasa was a Buddha painting on a rock face across the road. The road was next to the river. It was very quiet except when harried traffic passed by.
Arrive at Lhasa Hotel about 11 am.
Lunch at Hard Yak Cafe in hotel. Actually ordered what we wanted. We each had spaghetti (good) and others had yak burger and pizza (all good). Slept: Altitude reactions begin (headache, malaise, hard to get a breath and very tired. walked outside very slowly; found Internet cafe and sent messages home. Slept: very tired
Dinner at Hard Yak Cafe buffet style
Went to bed with headache all night.
Day # 7 Lhasa
Breakfast at Everest Restaurant in hotel. Took excedrin and felt much better after breakfast buffet.
Palace: Took bus with guide Mandy up steep road to back entrance of palace.
Car coming down halted bus before it wanted at end of incline, but was
able to start up again. Walked up a little and stood while Mandy
gave a long talk about the history of Tibetan people. Beautiful view of
valley. Palace had long narrow halls with strong incense and yak
butter smell. Lots of ancient scroll books stored among statutes, tombs
of past Dalai Lamas - dark.
Came out on the roof with a stunning blue sky view of the gold tops and surrounding area. Used most primitive squat toilet with view of waste going down 50 feet. Entry to toilet rooms very smelly but squat toilets not smelly at all. Open hole to ground way below for two people to share.
Lunch at another hotel - 7th lazy susan with lichee drink as a choice and yak meat.
Rest at Lhasa Hotel 2-4:00 p.m. At 3:15 p.m. went to Internet cafe again and sent another message home. Cost = 1 yuan (12 cents) for 20 minutes.
Jokang Temple: Walked from bus a couple blocks because of construction. Lots of local shops, vendors and hawkers along the way to the open square in front of the temple. Worshippers prostrating outside the temple many times over.
Mandy led a tour through the dark temple with smell of incense and yak butter oil burning. This felt like an active place of worship for Buddhists. Crowded inside with smaller alcoves for worship including one for men only.
Barkhor Market: vendor stalls all around the temple. Worshippers and shoppers walked around the temple clockwise with religious tradition. We started the opposite direction against 99% of the people. Went to one shop run by the temple and bought T shirt and bracelet. Bought necklace from street woman carrying jewelry on the way back to the bus.
Dinner: 8th lazy susan Sechuan Chinese style - spicy and not as good but watermelon tasty.
Day # 8 Lhasa
Breakfast buffet at Everest Restaurant in hotel
Monastery: drive up mountain to monastery - begging people along
road toward the monastery.
Walked up many stairs past many prayer wheels and viewed painting on the rocks.
Large meditation room (each room asked for 10-20 yuan to take photos) with many pillars, pillows and draping material from ceiling. Toured kitchen for whole monastery - dark, steamy, intense smells, wood burning stoves, monks eating in corner. Bought ringing Tibetan bowl for Vanessa. Debating monks in open area with view of valley.
Lunch: In local hotel in Lhasa; 9th lazy susan Chinese - good food in room with high domed ceiling with echo of people talking at next round table. Felt like someone was whispering in your ear. Diplomatic atmosphere.
Tibet Museum in Lhasa: wonderful displays of ancient writings, pottery shards, masks, beautiful full costumes of Tibetan wear, silk cloth weavings, diorama of a kitchen, boats of Yak skin we had seen on the highway coming into Lhasa, etc.
Summer Palace: last home of the 14th Dalai Lama. Clock set at the time
he fled the house under the cover of darkness, 9:00 p.m., for the safety
of India. He has not returned since 1959 with the Chinese invasion.
House full of gifts in modern times, i.e. radio, modern furniture, modern bathroom Hot springs have gone cold since an earthquake changed water temperature.
Tibetan dancers (3) singing, dancing and playing instruments.
Rest at hotel: postcards sent, Internet cafe again with a message from home.
Traditional Tibetan dinner - Yak butter tea, sampa (barley beer) to be
finished in 3 swigs, Yak meat, soft wheat rolls and several other dishes.
Food passed around table American style. Sat around large (17 seats) heavy
box table. Lecture: Professor of Culture and History at Tibet University,
"Joe". Full and sleepy from dinner!
Joe explained some cultural traditions he tries to document. One being the 3 baths in a lifetime and the history of androgyny and why that worked in the nomadic Tibetan society.
Day # 9 Lhasa -------> Chengdu --------> Chongqing
Rise 5:00 a.m. Breakfast at Everest @ 5:30 am
Ride 2 hours to airport: dark and raining, slowly becomes light just
before we cross the bridge.
Arrive airport: need to use the "facilities" as Norman would say or the "washroom". The woman's facilities were not quite as smelly but one squat toilet was covered with excrement all over the back and up the pipes. Very gross.
Fly to Chengdu: meet "Leon" again at airport. Outside airport was a large not functioning fountain next to the parking lot.
Lunch: Sechuan style; 10th lazy susan- good selection but craving ice cream; maps of China for sale by hawker outside lunch area.
Breeding Center: 4 baby pandas born just before we arrived on Aug. 22-28!!!
Had quick view of mother panda with one pink baby on her tummy just before she rolled over.
Red panda walked toward us slowly outside in her pen (bought wall hanging of watercolor pandas).
Ride for 5+ hours from Chengdu ------>Chongqing ----->Cruise boat on Chang
Beautiful scenery of the countryside; rice fields, ducks, water buffalo
Pot holes in 4 lane road (not driving more than 65 kph - rough ride at times felt like Mr. Toad's wild ride.)
Rest stop for snacks and drinks along the way. Bought jasmine leis from poor people.
Arrive Chongqing at 9:00 p.m. Guides do not know how to get to restaurant. Leon took taxi and we followed in the bus to a busy intersection and after talking to locals finally found restaurant.
Dinner: Lazy susan # 11 (similar to #10) last people in restaurant at 10:00 p.m.
Cruise dock: carry small carry on bags down stairs to boat.
Some of group had ice cream on the boat. We went to cabin and watched the US Tennis Open in NYC! What a surprise to find it. Andre Agassi beat Corretja in 5 sets. It was an exciting match.
Cabins are great with own bath and big window.
Day #10 Chang Jiang (The Yangtze River)
to announcement over intercom. Deep sleep as ship is docked.
Breakfast buffet in dining room
leaves dock in foggy but pleasant weather at 9 am. First of view of river
River water muddy brown. We were fortunate to be able to continue down the river because the week previous was a major flood of the river. This week the level of the river has decreased enough to continue. Watch river traffic, relax and get to know the boat. Norman offers to sketch the women on the tour. He likes to do portrait drawings and does a good likeness. He is happy to have a private room on the ship.
Lunch: buffet in dining room.
"Ghost City" Tour at 3:00 p.m.; Meet guide "Barbara"
Arrive via bus through almost abandoned city Fengdu. Eighty percent of the people of the city have moved to the new more improved city higher on the hillside. Old city of Fengdu will be destroyed before the river rises.
Ride chair lift ( like our ski lift in MT) to "Ghost City" high on the mountain. This part will not be flooded. Great view of the river and several cruise boats including the Victoria. Tour consisted of tacky ghoulish statues, short bridges to walk over, signs to point to, thresholds to step over or balance area that all symbolized if you were going to be male or female in next life or if you would be with your partner in next life, etc Halloween feel.
Dinner: appetizers and champagne with the Captain. (He spoke too loud into the microphone. We had to move away from the speaker; XIEXIE!!).
Lazy susan # 12 with the usual except dessert. Debate over flan - fishy or not. I think the fishy flavor group outnumbered Ed and me who experienced yummy flan.
Fashion Show: Great traditional costumes shown by staff. Bad current dress. Great ethnic groups dress.
Day # 11 Chang Jiang Gorges
Breakfast buffet early on ship in dining room.
Qutang Gorge viewed on ship: very windy out front and still somewhat foggy but the river much more narrow than the previous day. Flags to tell ships that downriver boats have right of way to upstream boats when river gets narrow for only one big ship at a time.
Fresh water pearl lecture: did not go ; watched tennis as Venus Williams beat Monica Seles
River - 3 lesser Gorges: board sampan boat and meet guide, "Grace".
Go up Danning River a tributary to Chang Jiang; water becomes cleaner and clearer.
Some heavy rapids and lots of sampans with tourists make for a few tense times negotiating the upriver.
Beautiful steep gorges, then some open area. First peasant boy with a long pole and attached net begging at our boat. We are asked not to encourage him and others later similar to him. It is hard to ignore.
Picnic lunch on pebble beach beside river. Eat our sack lunches provided by cruise. Sampan workers get out wares to try and sell items to us on the beach. Wade into the warm clean looking river. View wild monkeys along shore, coffin in cliff above river, warm sunny day. Sing Amazing Grace for guide Grace. She knew it too and told us of her new apartment with 3 bedrooms and two times bigger than her old place in city that will be flooded. She is very happy with the change that the dam has created so far.
Wu Gorge on the Victoria Cruise: more tall cliffs as boat passes through gorge. View goddess statue high on mountain edge - no big deal. Discover exercise bike and watch view while pedaling.
Had ice cream and tea in bar area.
Chinese painting demonstration: classic painting of peonies on tree limbs. Too much detail in the end but a joy to watch him complete it.
Dinner # 13 lazy susan Chinese food plus spaghetti and salad.
Program director Greg Hinton, announced two birthdays while in China. Sue in our group received a gift and we all had birthday cake. Sue and Amanda (our daughter) share 9/9 as a birthday - the same day Chairman Mao died.
Folk Performance on dock: dances with ethnic groups in costume of group.
Day # 12 Chang Jiang on Victoria Cruise
Breakfast buffet early (7:15 am) on ship
Xiling Gorge (longest gorge): high beautiful rock with greenery. Very foggy at first. Takes most of the morning to go through gorge. Exercise bike and watch view again. Inga reports seeing a dead floating body go by the boat. Probably from the flood.
Three Gorges Dam Site: meet guide, "Gracie" and climb about 120 stairs off dock to bus. Dam site visitor area and center were well maintained and situated. We hiked up a hill to view the dam and locks that are to be finished. Still foggy but we had a good view of the unfinished locks - big locks. The dam was a little too far away to view properly but I could see welding lights flicker on the body of the dam. Bus and Gracie took us to a visitor explanation center with a model of the dam site. She explained some details of the dam's capability and scope as the largest dam in the world in terms of amount of water retained and electricity produced. Local farmers were outside bus selling grapes in a basket. Return to Victoria.
Chinese Kites Demonstration: On the top deck of the boat kite lady (name?) explained that the kites were made of silk and her family designed them. She let one kite out and it kept drifting toward the boat engine stack. In a panic she steered it away to avert a quick incineration of the kite. Too windy for these delicate kites.
Locks of Gezhou Dam: this dam was built first as a small prototype of the three gorges dam. We went through the smaller lock and at first it did not look like we were going to fit. It was close. The boat had rubber bumpers on the sides to help guide it. A contest was offered for the passengers to guess what time it would be when the front gate would first crack open. Sebastian and another woman guessed the same time which was one minute off the winner's time.
Lunch: buffet on boat
Chinese Medicine discussion: At forefront was the discussion of moxibustion. John and Ed offered their wounds for demonstration. John had a suction cup on his shoulder with both trying moxibustion. Watched some of the final tennis match between Williams sisters. Serena won.
Dam Project Open Discussion: Led by Greg Hinton, program director of Victoria. It was a question answer session with a frank talk of the pros and cons of the project. One question was about the fate of the Victoria cruise and other boats for tourists on the river. Greg said that the dam diversion of the river will be closed in Oct. 2002 without any boat travel behind the dam. The spillway will be open with a low water situation that time of year and in April 2003 the dam will stop the river slowly with a rise to 135 meters at first and eventually 175 meters. I felt lucky to be one of the last boats to see the original river. The Victoria cruise plans to go on the reservoir after the dam begins but economically a lot of boat companies will be hurting from Oct.- April and probably longer. He gave very positive answers to the concerns of the dam project and seemed sincere in wanting to answer our questions. I wish I could have heard the discussion of the Chinese language group with Jacky in another room. It went on much longer than ours in English. I came away feeling like I was in favor of the project without really knowing much about it. Maybe it is a planned discussion on the boat to avert criticism. However, there are compelling reasons to try the project also. As usual big changes of this nature are never black and white.
Dinner: Lazy Susan # 14 Chinese food with ice cream dessert.
"Talent Show": Workers on boat did traditional dances with one boat employee a professional singer. Then other group's individuals did singing karioke style. (I am not a karioke fan.)
Dancing on Bar Floor: Two Taiwan men started with one walking like a monkey and a group doing a line dance. Danced with them poorly. Inga and John engaged us in the "chicken dance". (Gossip was that the Taiwan men were with concubines on the cruise and left their families home.)
Day # 13 Victoria Cruise -------> Wuhan
Ship sailed all night full steam ahead down the river. Sleep was lighter as the boat was shaking. A glass in our room shook off the stand and broke on the floor in the night. The tray with other glasses almost fell too. Felt like we had a vibrator bed. Breakfast buffet at 8:00 am; last morning on the boat - packed to leave.
Discussion on Modern China with Jacky Qin: he led question answer session in both English and Chinese. Since answers were long he did not translate. This style led to less than optimal conditions as each side became disinterested when the opposite language was used. However, the whole trip and this discussion led me to see Modern China following many of the west's procedures. We know the problems of them and hope they will avoid some of them knowing the inevitability of rich/poor; pollution; illiteracy; civil war; etc. I couldn't help seeing that China may out pace us economically with their large labor pool and group mind set.
Lunch: buffet on boat with pizza (marginal)
Disembark Victoria: meet Wuhan guide, "Tony" on bus to 5 star hotel, Shangri La. On the way to the museum Tony gave a heart-rending story of his childhood including famine and how he values food for his 14 year old son. His wife is a pediatrician at local children's hospital so he took Brian as an administrator of a US children's hospital on a tour.
of Wuhan: filled with items and displays of exhumed tomb near Wuhan that
was buried 2400 years ago.
Concert in hall of museum with local musicians playing instruments of that time. It took 10 years to reproduce a large set of brass bells, harpsichord, flutes, etc. from the originals. Central display of original brass bells with new reproduced wood hangar inside a large glassed-in central area. Each bell produces two tones depending on where you strike it. Discovery of gold work not originally known for that period also. Good display of large casket that had caskets within it.
Dinner at another 3 star hotel. L-S # 15: Chinese food; pork too chewy but hot pot of fish soup very good. Norman treated us to Chinese liquor -90 proof in liquor glasses. One gulp - burned a little going down, but good.
Downtown Walk in Wuhan: On our way to the downtown area for a night time walk, we drive by the twin towers in Wuhan that look eerily similar to the lost twin towers in NYC. This is September 7, 2002, almost the one year anniversary to 9/11. Very busy outdoor mall-like area without cars. Lots of people (many more young than old) walking by many shops, music events and fast food eating places like McDonald's and KFC. Ate ice cream bar after watching a man teach a young girl the tango. Bought Sebastian a red shirt from clothing store on sale. $10 American. Young clerk spoke English quite well.
Day # 14 Wuhan -------> Guilin
Breakfast buffet at 5-star hotel with glassed in super shower - had croissants with mango jelly - hen hao!
Fly to Guilin: practice Chinese with Norman on bus to airport. Meet rude American group in line at the airport. Meet "Frank" Jr. as our guide in Guilin.
Lunch @ another hotel (good food) L-S # 16
Arrive Sheraton Guilin: great pool
Rest time for all: Rode exercise bike, lifted a few weights, swam in pool. Had to purchase a swim cap for 20 yuan. Water was clear and did not smell of chlorine. I did not put my face under water but still enjoyed the swim in perfect temp. water. Elephant Trunk Hill: walked from hotel to hill. Hiked to the top of hill for view of river and city. Too much vegetation in places to see view. Elephant hill barely looks like an elephant if you use a lot of imagination. Narrow bamboo boats in river. Foot (& leg) Massage: Hot water with herbs to soak feet in a wooden tub. It was too hot at first for some. Tea to drink while massage is done. Wonderful and very relaxing. (100 yuan)
David, Joan & Tom went via taxi to Solitary Beauty Peak at a local university. View was better than elephant hill.
Sauna and swim: Charlotte, Kappy and I went for a sauna. I then went swimming again.
Dinner: went to another 5-star hotel under construction on the outside. Lazy-Susan # 17 included a raucous group singing and yelling next to our tables. Norman suggested this is the norm for local Chinese dinners. A couple people got up and sang in front of everyone. Food okay. Chef asked for feedback on dinner. Peggy filled out a critique from the group input. (Too many bones in meat dishes, can't remember what else.)
Program: in the hotel lobby was a program of ethnic dancers from the 56 minorities in China. The dancers picked some of our group to perform with them a couple of times. (The depiction of the minorities, esp. Tibetans reminded me of the white people minstrel groups portraying black people singing and dancing with blackened faces; i.e. where were the real Tibetan, Yi etc. people? As in other areas China is trying to modernize and we could see our past being repeated here.
Day # 15 Guilin
Breakfast buffet in Sheraton hotel.
River boat ride to city of Longshuo: bus ride to boat dock on the river
took about an hour as we passed the local country side of smaller towns,
farming areas, poor people along road with watermelons (in season now).
Guide, Frank encouraged anyone to come to China and teach English.
Dock contained many 2-3 deck boats on the river ready to take tourists.
(Sept. 9th; Amanda's 26th birthday and Sue in our group from New Orleans
- not 26)
On the river a parade of boats in line going down the river. Views of incredible Karst formations, water buffalo, farmers, cliffs and beautiful vistas with blue sky weather.
Lunch on boat: Almost Lazy Susan; tables were too narrow but same food. Turned down the drink in a bottle with dead snake inside.
Arrive Longshuo: disembark from boat with lots of hawkers on shore. Walk to shopping area. (Hot and sticky) Walked through tourist shopping area to the main street of town for locals. Lots of local shops for essentials such as shampoo, bike repair, groceries, etc. Each shop is the size of a one-car garage. Bought Mao t-shirt for Amanda, & Chinese chop.
Take carts back to the bus loading area and drive for 1+ hours to Sheraton hotel.
Rest: shower, swim, shower (Norman sketches Joan and me) 2 margaritas.
Dinner: at another hotel; Western dinner; sort of.
Day # 16 Guilin ---------> Hong Kong
Bike, swim and Breakfast buffet at hotel.
Reed Flute Cave: Limestone cave with bright colors and a couple very big rooms. Not as cool (in temp.) as I remember other caves in US being. China likes to find animals, people (Santa) in the formations. Reflecting pool was cool (not in temp.).
Pearl Factory: talk about pearls from fresh and salt water. One shell was opened and we had pearl inside given to Norman. He said he will give it to his mother. It was white and had a small black flaw on one side; too bad. Bought blue pearl necklace.
Lunch: Lazy-Susan # 18 extraordinaire! Farewell lunch to mainland China and Norman. Presentation of dishes at lunch was artistic. Green and white soup as yin/yang symbol was superb tasting. Toasted rice cake with sauce was amazing. I realized that we had fairly ordinary meals until now. On the other hand this restaurant was on Hilary Clinton's tour of China. Bought osmanthus tea.
Goodbye to Norman with poem written and read by Brian. Jiang Qing was a super guide!! We will miss him.
Bus ride to train station to drop off Norman as we go to the airport with local guide, Frank.
Goodbye to Frank at airport as we are on our own to get boarding passes to Hong Kong. Group looked out for each other as we found our way through the airport and customs since this is an international flight.
Fly to Hong Kong: Almost - flight was taking a long time. Suddenly our flight was aborted and we landed in Shenzhen just north of Hong Kong @ 5:20 p.m. We sat in the plane for an hour until the weather became better for us to land in Hong Kong. Landing in H-K was a hard bounce; everyone cheered on the plane as it was apparent that the rough landing was successful. A tropical storm called Typhoon Hagupit was off shore causing some gusty winds.
Meet local guide, "Doris": arrive at Holiday Inn- Golden Mile Hotel about 9:45 p.m.
Dinner: on our own. Since it was so late we found a Starbucks Coffee place and had spinach/cheese pie with coffee.
Day # 17 Hong Kong(means Fragrant Harbor)
Breakfast buffet at hotel. (Fortunately, it was included in the trip because it cost 40 US dollars for two. We're not in China anymore.
8:30 a.m. meet Doris for the day. Typhoon has caused much fog, wind and poor visibility with some rain. We decide to go to a local market instead of the view on Victoria hill first to see if the weather gets a little better for viewing. Drive through tunnel under channel between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Market Shopping area: stopped to do some shopping first. Yikes, prices are about the same as the US. Bought wooden chop sticks and 15 china holders for about $32 US after bargaining.
Harbor Fishing Boat Tour: Ride in boat for 8 people with woman driver and lots of car tires on sides. Cost = $7 a person. Driver very adept at steering boat through maze of fishing vessels, big and small. Great view of local harbor and boats moored. Driver yelled in Chinese when any of us got in the way of her view.
Gold Factory: fancy wood paneled interior building. A talk of how gold jewelry was designed and made. Doors were opened to sales area and sales people all waiting like vultures. Too bad again because prices were high and no one had the buying spirit at the end of the trip. Doris got cell phone call that Typhoon was upgraded from 3 to category 8.
Victoria Hill: we drive up steep hill road to outlook area; very windy and visibility not great of the harbor because wind was so strong. Bought candy in tram building. Tram Ride down hill: at the bottom kids were leaving school and getting on buses to return home because of the tropical storm. Drive back to hotel.
Lunch on own: we weren't too hungry. Found bakery shop and bought garlic bread and pig's ears pastry. Streets very busy with lots of cheap signs hanging over street. Wandered around in the rain and wind to find a lot of shops closed or closing. Bought silk jacket/shirt. Found Buddhist bookstore with Chinese and English books; good selection of books.
Dinner: on own. Ate at local Chinese restaurant; entrance off street not clear; had to take an elevator to upstairs and found a very nice place. Seafood soup was great. Ordered like a regular restaurant.
7:00 p.m.: Met group for the last time in lobby and went upstairs to luxurious bar. Men in shorts had to go back and put on long pants. Happy hour still; 2 for 1 drinks and served in glasses like the leaning tower of Pisa. Shared each of our favorite and least favorite parts of the trip with everyone as all 17 of us sat around in a big circle. We drifted off into politics of China and where we think this country is going. It is 9/11 today. John started us singing the Star Spangled Banner with a loud and strong, "Oh h, say can you see----Hugs of goodbye all around.
Night Harbor View: We walked about a mile to the ferry terminal and viewed the city lights. Typhoon was a tropical storm and did not cause a problem in town. It was still windy but no more rain. Hong Kong was a bit of a disappointment.
Day # 18 Hong Kong --------> Home
Breakfast room service at 5:00 am: table with white tablecloth and covered dishes; too much food for that early. Met Doris in lobby for drive to airport. On our own through customs. Forgot and put my favorite swan-shaped tiny scissors in check-on bag. Lost them and an old small Swiss-army knife. Sad to loose my scissors. Found bookstore in airport with a great section of Asian books in English. Bought Wild Swans and read my blues away.
Fly to Tokyo; Narida airport. Lots of security check places.
Arrive Seattle: very tired! Meet our friend Tammara at airport and talk for 2 hours.
home about 6:00 p.m. 9/12/02 to beautiful weather but exhausted.
Tour Group People:
Introductions were over the first 3 days as we saw each other at breakfast and then all day long. Slowly we managed to find out where everyone was from and names. There were 17 of us; 8 couples and 1 single plus our ever present guide, "Norman"
Pat and Dick Bonyak: from West Virginiardbonyak@yahoo.com
Dolly and David Browder: from Montanadbrowder@qwest.net
Burleson and Francisco Villa: from Georgia 1346 Moores Mill
Rd. Atlanta GA 30327
Frank Davenport: from Nevada 3372 Narod St. Las Vegas NV 89121 702-436-0364
Kappy and Ed Goodwin: from Louisanaengoodwin or firstname.lastname@example.org
Inga and John Jones: from Tennesseeijjones@bellsouth.net
Charlotte and Brian Landry: from Louisanalandry99@bellsouth.net
Sue and Mark Terrillion: from Louisanamsterrillion@webdsi.com
Joan and Tom Voltaggio: from New Jersey email@example.com
JiangQing from Beijing Chinanjiangmetal@yahoo.com.cn
3-501, #35 building, No. 25 Yuetanbeijie Street, Xicheng
District, Beijing, China
zip code: 100037