China Trip October 2017
There is so much to report that I'm overwhelmed.
I'll start with some observations and comments.
Oct 11 - To SFO
Oct 12 - Missed this date crossing the international dateline.
Oct 13 - Beijing, Hotel.
Oct 14 - Tienanmen square,
Forbidden city, Peking duck dinner
Oct 15 - National Museum of
China, Birds nest, Great wall, dinner buffet
Oct 16 - Rickshaw ride, Old
Chinatown, Home visit, Tea ceremony, Bell tower, The Temple of
Heaven, Afternoon off.
Oct 17 - Beijing airport!
Xi-an, Tomb museum, Muslim market, Mosque, Hotel.
Oct 18 - Hotel, Terracotta
warriors! Cave house, art museum, dinner, music show.
Oct 19 - Shangxi History
Museum, Wild Goose Pagoda, Buying items, Xi'an city wall, lunch,
Statues, French dinner.
Oct 20 - Hotel, Fly to Guilin,
Reed Flute Cave, Lunch, Irish Pub, Great Wall wine.
Oct 21 - Li river
cruise, Beautiful Guilin, Wedding, Buffet dinner
Oct 22 - Village market,
Lunch, (Chongqing J.W. Marriot)
Oct 23 - Pandas, Lunch,
Dazu Rock Carvings
Oct 24 - Flower market, Lunch,
Chinatown market, Three Gorges Museum, Hot Pot Dinner,
Boarded the cruise boat.
Oct 25 - Cruising on the
Yangtze, Visited Precious Stone Fortress/Red Pavilion, Crew show.
Oct 26 - Cruising on the
Yangtze, A side trip, Happy Birthday Debbie, Crew show, Locks.
Oct 27 - Tour of the Three
Gorges Dam, pause at a hotel, Coffee, Flew to Shanghai
Oct 28 - Walking tour,
Communist revolution museum, Beautiful Yuyan Garden, Lunch, Art
and History Museum, High rise hotel, Acrobat show + motorcycles,
drink at the top
Oct 29 - Bund tour, Silk shop,
Hike/metro/tower, Last dinner
Oct 30 - Fly home
Oct 11 - Picked up by our taxi buy - Pratap. He gives us a discount so we won't
take Uber and we pay him in cash.
Got on our United flight about 1pm. It
looked like a new plane so I assumed it would be very nice...
Nope. It was configured 3,4,3. We were in the center with an aisle
seat and next. The seat braces were such that there was no room
for my feet. The seat was narrow and hard. The trip was one of the
most difficult I've ever taken. No sleep. (back)
Oct 13 - Arrived in Beijing. A normal looking
airport. We went through customs, got our bags and walked out
looking for our Smithsonian greeter. Michael was there. We were
the last people at this time. A few others had been waiting. On
the bus and to the hotel. Traffic was
suprising. Beautiful freeways, large cars from all over the world,
bumper to bumper. Looks like Silicon Valley traffic.
Amazing! Wow! A big beautiful
Hotel Sofitel Wanda. We checked in and
went to our room.
We were on our own for dinner. We ordered two Croque-monseur sandwiches from room service. It took a
while but when they showed up they were the most amazing
Croque-monseurs we ever had. We had brought along a plastic flask
of gin. With a bit of our gin and some mix from the mini-bar and a
bucket of ice, we had a great meal.
Meeting time - 8am tomorrow. (back)
Oct 14 - Elegant buffet breakfast on the fifth floor. Deb had a personally made eggs
benedict. A large spread of American and Asian dishes.
On the bus and off to Tienanmen Square (link).
We parked and hiked in. Michael led us quickly through the security
line. The square is huge. Purportedly the
largest in the world. It was pretty busy because last week was
Golden Week. Many people go on vacation and travel during this
time. Apparently many were still on vacation.
It was decorated with a large flower display. The picture
of Mao had been refurbished for the big
once in five years meeting of the Peoples Congress. Security was
tight. We could see the building where the meeting was going to
take place. (extras)
Between Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden city we
had lunch in a back room of a local
looking restaurant. I like these Chinese
lunches with the lazy-susan and many dishes.
We then visited the Forbidden City (link).
This guard was not happy with me taking
his picture. This was the Imperial Palace from the Ming to the
Qing dynasties - 1420 to 1912. I'd read about it but it was far
larger and more magnificent then I imagined. I'll put a collection
of pictures here. (extras)
Back to the hotel for a break then off to our Peking Duck dinner. Ducks
are fatty and not much meat. A fun experience.
I ordered ice and we had a bit of our gin
before bed. (back)
Oct 15 - Once again a beautiful breakfast. I've
found the Roquefort cheese and it's fantastic - of course in a
We bussed over near Tienanmen Square to
go to the National Museum of China (link).
Michael led us through security and
crowds to enter. Rose led the tour. This is one of her specialties
so it was quite good - Thanks Rose. (extras)
It was spectacular! As I was
looking at things a guy came up to me and indicated he wanted a
picture with me. (??) I cooperated. Deb
took a picture of him. We exchanged cards. Michael said he was a
CEO of an oil processing company. Later he grabbed me again for
another picture - he asked a passerby to take it.
Many ancient and beautiful things. One room
was a special exhibit
for the Peoples Congress.
We rode out for a glimpse of the "bird's
nest" of Olympics fame. Then another great lunch.
We took a pretty long trip out to the Great Wall (link).
Michael took us to a less touristy area. An interesting drive out.
We hiked up a pretty significant hill
then took a tram up near the wall.
Of course amazing. We could see the wall rambling over these steep hills for miles. Rose said it wasn't for defense but
to mark the end of the territory. An engineering feat.
I hate to admit I had trouble here. The steps were steep and uneven.
No real handrails. I think partly from jet lag I didn't feel
stable. I mainly hung around one area and
looked around. Deb wanted to hike out.
She wouldn't go without me. We met an Indian
band who was going to play in San Jose soon. I really did enjoy
this adventure and would have been sad to have missed it. (extras)
On our way down we stopped and shared a beer and glimpsed a kitty.
Once down there was some mix up so we stood around waiting for a while. That was interesting too.
Back through the market and
to the bus. As usual things are the same
We had the buffet dinner
at the hotel. The buffet is amazing! The wine was pricy and French.
Oct 16 - Spectacular breakfast
Off to old Chinatown and a bicycle rickshaw
ride. Quite entertaining. (movie) We hiked around the area gawking
at things. Some wealthier residents had fixed up their places. We
wondered why many cars had cardboard or plywood covering their
wheels - it's to protect them from peeing dogs. (link)
We visited a "typical" house and had a brief lecture. The owner
is a rather famous artist and calligrapher. Some in the group
bought some of his works. We took pictures and observed. (extras)
There is a bar area here. Some of the few bars I saw in China.
We then went to a bell tower where we
participated in a tea ceremony and lecture.
A very nice lecture. (movie) We looked
around at the wares and tea for sale.
We then bussed over to the "Temple of Heaven" (link).
A large beautiful collection of temples and pagodas
built before America was discovered. This is a UNESCO World
Heritage site - too bad the US no longer support UNESCO. It was
beautiful and in a beautiful garden.
(extras) I noticed Trump visited here.
When I got home I built a model of the Hall of Prayer
for Good Harvests Pagoda. We bought it while leaving the Beijing
As I do this report I realize my small paragraph about this place,
the wall and others are woefully inadequate. I'd have to do a book
to cover it. I, once again, suggest you look at the links, click
on the picture on the right and step through the professional
Another wonderful lunch.
Back to our spectacular Hotel Sofitel. This may have been when we
dealt with the money thing... We nipped over to the Wal-Mart. We
bought a few things including a small vodka to supplement our gin.
The Wal-Mart was different but the same.
This is when we hit the ATM. I suspect this may be when we were
concerned about getting counterfeit bills. When we got back we looked at the money and wondered
if it was counterfeit. Rose had told us how to tell. At some
point, maybe later in the day, we went back and the bank
explained we had some older money with some different marks but
it was ok.
Not sure what we did for dinner. We probably did the buffet again.
BTW - Michael had given us a nice French wine for Deb's upcoming
Oct 17 - Off to the airport to fly to Xian (or
Xi'an pronounced Shi-an). (link)
Beijing airport security was tight because of the People's
Congress soon to convene. It was jam packed. Women in one set of lines men in another set. It was very slow
moving. Suddenly there was a big commotion in the woman's area.
Security was wrestling with a guy, with much shouting. I'm
guessing he was missing his plane!
It took forever to get through security. When
finished with my thorough search I grabbed my belt and things and
began running for gate 39. Yikes! My pants were falling off! I may
have been the last person on the plane. Three other guys were with
me in this adventure.
Xi'an's claim to fame is that it was the capital city of China for
hundreds of years. Very historical. One of the oldest of the four
ancient capitals. It was the eastern terminus of the great Silk
We then boarded a bus and went to the Han Ying Ling Museum (link).
This area has several large burial mounds for emperors. Most not
excavated. We visited one where the museum is located - the tomb
of Emperor Liu Qi. We saw many miniature statues. Apparently
representing people, things and animals to assist the emperor in
the next life. Kinda dark but amazing. (extras)
Our guide took us to the Muslim Quarter where there is an
incredible market. (movie R3799) Lots of interesting foods. She
told us to not eat anything here. If she hadn't told us that I
would have tried a few things. We did visit the mosque. It looked
old and a mix of Chinese and Moslem. This was an eye opener.
Then to our incredible hotel. I've never been IN a hotel this
amazing! Beautiful - The Windham Grand.
Oct 18 - I don't remember breakfast. I'm sure it
was a buffet.
Off to the terracotta warriors (link).
It was pretty crowded. We got our views. The trenches were filled
with hundreds of warriors. Every one had been broken by the
succeeding emperor. The site had been underground. The ceiling had
collapsed then grown over so nobody knew it was there. A farmer
digging a well in his field ran across some shards and reported it
The statues were created about 210 BC.
It was incredible! It went on forever. They are still
excavating here. Some of the most beautiful and significant items
were on special display.
This was the MOST significant sight of the trip. A
singular highlight. I can't say enough.
Off to another great lunch.
We visited a "cave" home. Actually they
no longer live in the cave. There was a active stinky outhouse.
They were raising pomegranates and seemed to have quite a few ready for pickup. On the side they were
selling some touristy things. The family is quite poor. Fairly
interesting. I saw a "Mad Max" vehicle go by.
We stopped by a small museum where we
learned a bit of calligraphy - fun.
Back to the hotel for a bit of rest.
Tonight we are going to a music and dance performance.
We had a nice dinner including some
strong rice wine (110 proof). It tastes
like saki with a lot of alcohol. Dinner was a bit rushed so we
could get to the show downstairs.
We had a bit of a hassle. Deb was a bit late from the
bathroom and didn't like our seats. In fact we thought about
taking a taxi back to the hotel. The theater people found us two
seats on the right side in rows 4 and 5. The people sitting there
changed seats so we could sit together - thank you. We were off to
the side and practically leaning on an air conditioner. The show
was fun and interesting. Difficult taking pictures and movies
because everyone else was holding up their phones.
All in all an interesting experience. Others in our
group had problems with inconsiderate teenagers using their phones
and talking too much. (extras)
Back to the hotel where we had a drink in the lobby bar.
Oct 19 - Off to another incredible museum - The
Shanxi Provincial History Museum (link).
Lots of excellent artifacts including some of the best terracotta
warriors. One of the four largest museums in China. (Extras)
We stopped by the Wild Goose Pagoda (link).
This originally held sutras and figurines of the Buddha. A 1556
earthquake damaged it. There is a bell here that people like to
ring.(movie P1130974) The grounds were interesting. There was an artist at work doing wood carvings. Deb
bought a piece from him. I believe others
also bought some items.
We then stopped by the old city wall to
take a look. We enjoyed the walk around.
There were several photography shoots
going on including some brides and grooms. Very much fun and
Another elegant lunch.
We had the afternoon to ourselves. We walked over to these
wonderful statues of musicians in an
orchestra. We spent quite a bit of time looking them over and
taking pictures. (Extras)
I believe we rested and took a nap. We have reservations to go to
a French restaurant for a change from our Chinese fare. It was a
bit of a hike. Look a Tesla. When we arrived at Lotus they seated
us in a sort of private area. We looked over the menu and ordered
some rather expensive wine. We struggled
a bit with the menu, though it was in English. They had three or
more pre-fixe price levels. Not quite pre-fixe because we had some
choices. The waiters did not know two words of English and I'd
left my phrase book at the room.
We finally got things ordered. We were a bit early.
When the manager showed up she spoke perfect English. We had a
nice meal. I had a rib-eye steak - a bit
small, rare and strangely not very tasty. They did offer multiple
flavored salts - we used the rosemary infused salt. Pretty upscale.
Over all a nice experience. To be honest I could have
stuck with the Chinese food.
Others in our group went to a Mexican restaurant and
others to an Italian place. I think we had the best.
I had a struggle getting back to the hotel. My Achilles was kicking up. The
statues of the orchestra area is a light show in the evening with
dancing waters and music. Unfortunately I couldn't walk that far.
When we had first gotten into our room it smelled of cigarettes.
We actually found a window open - apparently to let the smoke out.
I mentioned it to the desk because I didn't want to get in trouble
for smoking in the room. I actually told them twice. They said
they would make up for it. They gave us a basket of fruit and a pass to get to the special
lounge on the top floor.
We went to the top floor to see the light show. Here are some movies. (movie,movie)
One more picture of the hotel. Here is Deb in a rickshaw.
Oct 20 - To the airport to fly to Guilin (link) considered
the most beautiful city in China. It's name means "Forest of Sweet
Osmanthus" (a small fragrant flower that grows here). It is a
major Chinese tourist destination. The airport
was small but convenient. (is this where we had lunch in the
We visited the
Reed Flute Cave (link).
A limestone cave. They have walkways, special light shows and
scenes. It's not Carlsbad but it was nice for what it is. (Extras)
You can rent a boat and pole around.
On the way to the hotel we could see the city is among these
fabulous mountains with a beautiful river. The mountains and
formations are because this once was the bottom of the ocean and
the limestone has eroded.
The hotel is nothing special but nicely located. The river walk
and local boat tours are within walking distance. Also it is right
on the edge of a busy tourist area.
We hiked into the tourist area. We found an Irish pub. We collect
Irish pubs around the world. I had the local beer and some local
strong rice drink. Deb had a Guinness. Somebody said Irish pubs
are like Chinese restaurants, every city has one.
We also stopped at a "supermarket" and bought some "Great Wall"
wine. We got the expensive ($30) version and a small vodka seeing
our plastic flask with the gin had disappeared - maybe stolen from
The room had a balcony but no chairs so we lugged a couple out and
had a drink outside and looked down.
Oct 21 - Today is our boat ride on the Li
Off we went with dozens of other boats. We have a box lunch
supplied by Michael. We can buy beer, soft drinks and snacks on
The views are wonderful and endless. We took way too many
pictures. The formations are amazing. At one spot is the view that
is on the 20¥ bill. Very relaxing and scenic. I'm wearing my UV
Quite a hike back to a shuttle that took us to the bus. Mr. Toad's
Wild Ride (movie)
The city itself is built among these amazing mountain/hill things.
We saw the famous elephant mountain rock formation. There is a
lake here where you can tour and see a collection of the world's
most famous bridges in reproduction. We didn't do this, others
When we got back we found a wedding being set up. We went to the
patio and had a glass of wine.
We nipped over to the supermarket and got another (cheaper) wine
and some snacks. They offered us a discount. I didn't know you
could bargain in a 7-11 type store. I don't remember dinner but it
was on the second floor and was a buffet. I have a difficult time
picking stuff at buffets.
Here's an observation... In several different places
I ran into the situation where the top or bottom step of a
stairway is either a little short or a little tall. This place had
a stairway where the bottom step was a little short.
The wedding was in full swing. Apparently it ended early. I think
they were done by 6pm.
Oct 22 - Today we went to a country style market.
People here are poorer then other places we've seen. In scouting
out the place I spotted a double Buddha that I liked. The guy was
asking 100¥ ($15). I said "no". Bernie piped up and offered like
30¥, he said 80, she said 50, he said 60 and I said "ok" ($9).
Worth it. Now we have to lug it home. Deb was unhappy.
We went into an old wealthy house/workshop. We walked
around and looked at some local gardens. I noticed a guy cleaning
a chicken in the river. Lots of fun stuff. We should have bought
more and left some money for the people.
Once again an upscale lunch.
Apparently we flew to Chongqing this evening. Guilin airport is
very nice and peaceful.
We rode into Chonqing (link) and
entered our hotel. Once again a big fancy western style hotel -
Apparently we opened the bottle of French wine we
have been lugging around. Our little unopened bottle of vodka is
missing - apparently stolen from our bag.
Oct - 23 - Chongqing is the largest city in the
world with 33M people. Well it takes in four cities and several
counties so it has a very large area. None the less it's amazing.
The buildings and building never stop. It is also called the
bridge city because of the number of bridges. Many bridges are
double decked with rail lines underneath. The Jialing river joins
the Yangtze here. The city has few bicycle because it's so hilly.
It's a major manufacturing center and transportation hub. They
have a monorail system that appears to be inefficient, only one
line of three is currently running.
The city has a lot of modern history. During WWII the
Flying Tigers supplied the city with food. Chiang Kai Shek was
based here. It's known as the "city of heroes".
The city was famous for organized crime. In 2009 the
city cracked down and arrested nearly 5000 gangsters.
The view from our hotel room was the back of a high rise condo.
Not too inspiring.
We are off to see the pandas. We saw about one tenth of the zoo
I'm sure. You must go in the morning when they are active. They
eat most of the time. What's that joke about "I can tell the crime
was done by a panda because he eats, shoots and leaves"? Really
fun seeing the pandas. Don't you love this kids haircut?
We drove a long distance towards the Dazu Rock Carvings. On the
way we passed through at least three tunnels each more then a mile
long. We stopped for lunch at a fancy hotel in a city that
appeared to be one of the famous empty cities. Apparently we were
the only group here for lunch.
We then continued to the Dazu Rock Carvings (link).
Another UNESCO site. Pretty fabulous. It's a series of carvings
influenced by Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist beliefs. The two most
interesting are the reclining Buddha and the Golden Hands Buddah.
(extras) We entered and took a shuttle down to the site. Wow!
Now a long ride back into rush hour traffic.
I wanted to get a small gin or vodka seeing our small vodka had
been stolen before it was even opened. I took my phrase book, went
to the desk and pointed to "liquor store". They didn't understand.
As I gave up one of the people ran over and said there was a
supermarket attached to the hotel. Really? I went into this tiny
general store. They had Chevis Regal and Johnny Walker Black. Only
in 750ml. JWB was about 300¥ ($45). I bought it knowing we'd be
lugging this around for the rest of the trip. Much hassle paying
I don't remember dinner but it was probably one of those wonderful
buffet's. As I recall lots of seafood. I think I had some pretty
good fried steak.
Oct 24 - Great buffet breakfast. I've finally
figured out to stick with eggs, bacon and toast and maybe a bit of
fruit or pastry.
We were given the morning to explore. It was suggested we go to
the nearby flower market. We hit an ATM which rejected us. We
looked at stores and street activity. We walked part way into the
flower market. A group coming out said it was crowded so we turned
around. We wandered around and found another bank/ATM and got the
usual 1000¥ ($150)
We had lunch at a touristy Chinatown. Then off to another super
crowded market - always interesting. (extras)
While waiting for the group to gather I sat down on a
bench with a bunch of Chinese folks. A friendly guy wearing a suit
struck up a conversation. He knew enough English so we could sort
of talk. He couldn't see my phrase book without his glasses. With
a little help from our guide we had fun talking. His wife and my
wife seemed a bit perturbed.
We went to the Three Gorges Museum (link),
apparently to prepare us for our cruise. The museum was huge,
modern and beautiful but confusing. Hardly any English. It was
interesting enough. We were a bit rushed.
Dinner was at a place that specializes in hot pot cuisine. We each
had a divided hot pot thing flavored with spices on one side and
plain water on the other. We were supposed to cook our food. I
have a problem fooling around preparing my own food. The beer was
good. I suspect if we'd had a Chinese person directing us it would
have gone better. Still, a good experience. No complaints.
We now proceeded to our Yangtze cruise ship. A fair amount of
fooling around getting on board. A brass band welcomed us. We
checked into our cabin - pretty nice. We then went to the safety
muster and introduction. Deb and I took too many pictures of the
The ship left about 10pm. I suspect they leave at night so you
don't see the industrial area along the river. I'm sure we'd have
been shocked by the pollution. Deb commented on the sunset in the
south - nope it was a smelter behind a hill. Chongqing is one of
the most polluted cities in the world.
Oct 25 - Pretty good buffet breakfast and lunch.
We mainly gawked at the river scenes.
We went to the captains reception.
The Smithsonian/Odyssey group had a special area where appetizers
and drinks are available. Rose had a couple "I Ching" items to
play with. We played with them for a while. Fun. Thanks Rose.
We got off the ship to visit the "Precious Stone Fortress"/"Red
Pavilion". After an introduction we hiked out across a wobbly
cable supported bridge called the "drunken" bridge. It was 199
steps up the Pavilion to the temple/fortress at the top. The base
is in a coffer dam. We had a great view but not much time at the
top. There are some nice reproductions here. Quite a climb down
the back of the hill and across the bridge. Most went to the
market. We went back to the ship. It was reported that this was a
particularly good market - next time...
We had a couple happy hour teeny martini's with BJ and Bernie.
Dinner. There was a very good production by the crew. (extras)
Oct 26 - Today we mostly gawked at the wonderful
Yangtze river sights.
Today we took a side cruise down the Daning river on small
sampans. We saw beautiful sights along the river. We stopped and
exited the ship and listened to some traditional entertainment
from the riverboat crews. (movie) A fun diversion. Our guide is a
local and speaks good English. Deb had brought a few things to
give to kids (it was suggested). She had the guide wait on the
ship while she went and got the items (there is more to this story
- you have to ask).
Back to the ship where we had appetizers, played with the I Ching
Dinner was nice. They had champagne to celebrate Deb's birthday
and Dave & Gale's 40th anniversary. Everyone sang Happy
Birthday in English and Chinese. They even had cake. How nice.
Later we watched another crew show featuring ethnic costumes and
The highlight was passing through the 5 locks of the Three Gorges
It took from 11pm to 3:30am. The locks are so large there was a
barge next to us and other ships behind us. Lots of squealing as
it sounded like the ship was rubbing on the side of the lock wall.
We slept through it pretty well.
Oct 27 - This morning we rode the bus over for a
tour of the dam area. We could see there are two sets of locks -
one set going up, one going down. We looked over a model of the
dam. We hiked out and looked over the area. There is a ship
elevator to lift the ships much faster then the locks. It's
worthwhile to look at the "link". (extras)
Back to the ship for more cruising down the Yangtze. Many
beautiful and interesting sights. (extras) Lunch.
We disembarked at Wuhan. Our flight isn't for a few hours so we
had an impromptu tour of a Chinese historical/railroad museum -
small but nice. I took a break and stood on the sidewalk and
nodded at the locals - they looked grumpy but would give me a nice
We then stopped at a hotel to pass more time before going to the
airport. Many had the famous Chinese foot massage. We walked
around a small park gawking at a musician and many people playing
cards for money as well as observing people exercising and kids
Michael came over and led us on a walking tour. I
nipped into a Bank of China to get some cash. The ATM was
confusing. A guard came over to help. He spoke perfect English - I
swear his pronunciation is better then mine.
We hiked over to a shopping center where we had some
coffee and a break. It took longer then expected. We practically
ran back to the hotel. Some local teenagers wanted to practice
their English on us - we were too busy...
On the plane and off to Shanghai. We landed in terminal 2 - huge
and new. We checked into our hotel - The Shanghai Hilton. Wow! Our
room is on the 28th floor. Quite a view and a very nice room.
Oct 28 - We met our very nice guide. She walked
us through the French concession - lots of fancy international
restaurants and European architecture.
We visited the museum memorializing the First National Congress of
the People's Communist Party (link).
Security was tight - probably because of the meeting going on in
Beijing. A very interesting museum. Loved the statues of guys
around a table. I could study this more. (extras)
We toured the beautiful Yuyuan Garden (link). We
crossed a zig-zag bridge that confuses evil spirits. Unfortunately
we came back across it so I guess the evil spirits following me
found me again. Lots of beautiful scenes.
Lunch. Then to the largest museum in Shanghai (link).
It celebrates several Chinese arts - painting, calligraphy,
furniture, bronze, jade, sculpture, coins, etc. We looked it over
in some detail and enjoyed it a lot.
Back to the hotel. Here are some views from our room. (extras)
I don't remember dinner. We went to the acrobatic show. It was set
in a rotunda. We sat in the middle about half way up - excellent.
There were several amazing acts.
The most amazing was motorcycles in a steel sphere.
First two then three and up to eight motorcycles flying around. I
could hardly look. I have a rather long movie of it (movie).
Back to the hotel. We went up to the bar for a drink and a view of
the city at night. Very nice.
Oct 29 - A very nice setting for our buffet
Off to the Bund which is an historical and interesting area along
the waterfront (link).
Busy rivers are always interesting. There is a Wall Street bull
here - no little girl. We went into an art deco hotel to look and
gawk. We observed photo shoots going on.
Off to the silk shop. Supposedly it's less expensive then the
government shop outside the city. An interesting lecture on silk
production plus a demonstration of some actual silk production.
We thought we'd seen it when they took us through a
curtain into a gigantic silk shop. Everything silk - ties, shirts,
comforters, you name it. Deb cracked and bought two future duvet's
plus some material for future projects. Interesting and fun.
Nearly everybody bought something.
Back to the hotel and free time. We decided to go to the viewing
deck of the worlds second tallest building - The Shanghai Tower (link).
We hiked through a rather beautiful park. Besides
sights we ran across an ad-hock band playing (movie). We are
taking the metro to the tower area.
We found the station - no problem. I was having some
problems figuring out the machine when a kid who spoke no English
helped us get our two one-way tickets. He handed me the change
from a 100¥ minus 10¥ ($1.50) - no problem. After much study we
finally got on a crowded train going the right direction.
We got off and gawked around, mostly at the TV tower.
(extras) Finally we hiked the mile or more to the building. We
apparently could have saved a bundle on a senior discount if we'd
had our ID's. Oh well, it was about $20 each.
A bit of a line then up the worlds fastest elevator
to the 121st floor observation deck. It was a bit overcast but the
views were still good. (extras)
Back down and to the metro. We met a girl who wanted
to spend time talking English with us. We now know how to buy
tickets. Unlike most metros you have to indicate your
stop/destination. No problem. We got off and were a bit confused
as to which way to go. Duh. We got lost. We started hiking around.
I asked some police guys - I don't think they knew where they
were. We asked at least three other groups and people for
directions. I was pooped. I finally hailed a taxi and gave him the
card with our destination. It seemed like we were driving around
forever - I wondered if he was taking advantage of us. Finally he
pulled into the Hilton.
I was concerned about the cost. In NY this would have
been a $20 ride. I gave him 100¥ ($15). He gave me back 80¥ ($12).
Really? Only $3 for the ride? I gave him a 10¥ tip. He was
thrilled. Guess we should have taken more taxis. Actually a taxi
ride from our hotel to the tower would have been quite expensive
because of the traffic delays across the bridge.
Tonight is our farewell dinner. It was French. Very nice and
elegant. Good wine. I believe somebody (Anna?) bought more wine. A
Oct 30 - To Home. Off to the airport. I'm
dreading the flight home. I notice we have the same airplane a
777. We were among the last people on. Turns out it is configured
3,3,3. A comfortable seat with room for my feet. Nice! After a few
hours I began talking to the guy next to me. He's a fairly young
Chinese businessman. He's going to Las Vegas for a convention. He
has a plant in Alabama. They make professional tool boxes. He was
interesting to talk with. He charged my Kindle on his portable
power supply - thank you.
We got to SFO. Our taxi guy is busy so we took an expensive Uber
home. Home sweet home.
An amazing adventure.
After thoughts -
Being the oldest person in the group was a bit disconcerting. I
seemed to be walking behind the group. I had some concerns on the
Great Wall with balance. In Chongqing after a big day on my feet I
couldn't walk out to see the evening light show. I'm in pretty
good shape so I wasn't a burden.
A very compatible group. We talked to everyone. I liked asking
Dave questions about his sailing days - he's an old sea captain. I
think he was mostly on oil tankers. Lots of interesting stories
and comments. Loved his smiling friendly wife.
We were probably the poorest people there.
I can't say enough good things about the Smithsonian tour. Michael
was amazing. I really enjoyed talking and joking with him. The
hotels were fantastic. Lunches were really good. Loved everything.
Interesting seeing all the American companies here. KFC seems to
be everywhere. (extras)
I hate to admit it but when we got home we found the flask of gin
in the suitcase. However, the small vodka was stolen.