China Trip October 2017
There is so much to report that I'm overwhelmed.
I'll start with some observations and comments.
I'm still working on this. There are a few glitches and I need to
get the movies running.
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. P1130449.mp4
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)(movie
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 (movie 534) 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. (movie 585)(movie 589)
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.(movie 612) We hiked up a pretty
significant hill then took a tram up near
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.
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. (movie 681)Quite entertaining. (movie 682) (movie 693) 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.
(movie 724) A very nice lecture. We looked
around at the wares and tea for sale.
Here are some hacky-sack players. (Movie)
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
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.
A drink in the room before bed.
BTW - Michael had given us a nice French wine
for Deb's upcoming birthday.
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
Note the dedicated bike lane (movie 798)
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)
We bussed into Xian.
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. (Extras) (movie 801)
Then the very interesting
drive to our incredible hotel. (movie 822)
I've never been IN a hotel this amazing! Beautiful - The Windham
Grand. (Extras) I believe this was
the place that provided us with a free cell phone.
Oct 18 - I don't remember breakfast.
I'm sure it was a buffet.
Off to the terracotta warriors (link).
It was pretty crowded. (movie 836)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 to authorities. (movie 836)
The statues were created about 210 BC. (Extras)
It was incredible! It went on forever. They are still
excavating here. (movie 858)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. (Extras)
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. (Extras)
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. (movie 925)
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. (Extras)
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 heel problem 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. (movie 039)
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.
One more picture of the hotel. Here is Deb in a rickshaw.
Oct 20 - Our very nice guide.
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.
Another great meal.
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 our bags.
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 boat. The boat is
quite comfortable. (movie 146)
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
shirt. Very nice. (movie 104) (Extras)
Quite a hike back
to a shuttle that took us to the bus. Mr.
Toad's Wild Ride (movie 166) The three wheel vehicles act as
unlicensed cheap taxi's.
The city itself is built among these
amazing mountain/hill things. Beautiful.
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 did.
When we got back we found a wedding being
set up. We went
to the patio and had a glass of wine. (Extras)
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
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. We had a nice buffet
dinner. The wedding
was over. To bed. Good night. (Extras)
Oct 22 - Today we went
to a country style market. Lots of strange
and interesting stuff being sold. 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
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. (movie 201)
Once again an upscale lunch.
Apparently we flew to Chongqing this evening. Guilin airport is
very nice and peaceful.
We rode into Chonqing
entered our hotel. Once again a big fancy
western style hotel - J.W.Marriott. Amazing! (Extras)
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 - Breakfast and getting ready for our tour.
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
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. (movie 247????)
Driving through these cities is amazing. Everything different but
yet the same. (movie 254)
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? (movie 265) (Extras)
We drove a long distance
out towards the Dazu Rock Carvings. (movie 370) 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. The hotel
appeared empty. It had some impressive wood
carvings. Apparently we were the only
group here for lunch.
We then continued to the Dazu Rock Carvings (link).
The weather was cool with light rain.
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
Buddha. (Extras) We entered and took a shuttle down to the site. Wow! Pretty
impressive. Too many carvings to document
them all. (Extras)
Now a long ride back into rush hour traffic. Most of these big
freeways are not free. They are toll
roads. Check out this toll booth. Everything is clean because of the
street cleaners. Back through the tunnels to the city.
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 for it.
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.
We had a drink, read a little and went to bed.
Oct 24 - Great buffet breakfast. I've finally figured out to
stick with eggs, bacon and toast and maybe a bit of fruit or
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¥
Off we went. We had lunch
at a touristy Chinatown. Then off to
another super crowded market - always
interesting. (Extras)(movie 391, 428, 429 )
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. Locals.
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 city. (Extras)
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 buffets. We
mainly gawked at the river scenes. (Extras)
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 from a beautiful guide, we
hiked out across a wobbly cable supported bridge
called the "drunken" bridge. (movie 518) 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. (not sure I have the
name correct) There were some sculptures of the Chines Zodiac.
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. (movie 547, 554).
Oct 26 - Today we mostly gawked at the wonderful
Yangtze river sights. (Extras)
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
603) 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). (Extras)
Back to the ship where we had appetizers,
played with the I Ching and gabbed.
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. (movie 546) (Extras)
Later we watched another crew show
featuring ethnic costumes
and dances. (movie 605)
The highlight was passing through the 5 locks
of the Three Gorges Dam (link).
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)
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 then would give me a nice smile.
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 playing. (movie 688)
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. (Extras)
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. School groups were touring. A
very interesting museum. Loved the statues of guys around a table. I could study
this more. (Extras) (movie 721)
We then toured the beautiful Yuyuan Garden
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.
(movie 755)(movie 767)
Lunch. Then to the largest
museum in Shanghai (link).
It celebrates several Chinese arts - painting,
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.
I don't remember dinner. I think it was above the theater. 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.
(movie 805, 806, 808)
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 810).
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 breakfast.
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. Great guide.
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 product 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, fun,
expensive. 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 870). 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. 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.
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 nice farewell.
Oct 30 - To Home. Off to
the airport. (movie 915)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.