How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE

First Priorities

112 Comments


Our flight will leave, our time, at 6:30 p.m. to Chicago. The flight has triggered lots of excitement already. We get to fidget and walk miles and miles at the airport killing time for over five hours before our departure for China. My travelling friend is already worried we paid cheap, no wonder we’re off to such an auspicious start.

Four and five star hotels

A friend suggested a site of her blogging pal who had been to China (five years ago). A tip in one of her posts said, ‘Learn to squat.’ I bring this up as our tour rep promised all accommodations will be in four and five star hotels. The photograph on the presentation screen showed an ultra-modern toilet and a glassed in shower in the bathroom. One interested couple in attendance had come because friends of theirs had travelled with this tour earlier and loved it. I heard no mention of squatting.

Microsoft Clipart.

Microsoft Clipart.

Of course in five years’ time many changes have occurred in China.

I’ve checked all the hotels we’re booked at during our stay. The bathrooms look like Hollywood movie sets: modern and luxurious. Think Dallas, the series. Of course I checked out comments by previous visitors. Tour people appear to have been delighted. Several, travelling on their own who booked their own hotel (same hotel), complained their bathrooms had mold, were dirty and servers did not understand English. Their bathrooms has windows into the main area and the blinds did not close. What? Indeed, there were several comments like this. Others who had booked their own rooms were happy. Everything’s subjective, right?

Internet access

i read an interesting fact tthat over 600 million people in China have internet access? But did you also know that laptops and desktops, depending who you read, are considered meh? Most everyone prefers a mobile phone. Ah the fast pace of life on-the-go. North America is getting there too, but  the numbers are staggering in China.

Most of the hotels booked for us advertise complimentary WiFi, some in the rooms, and free /available in the lobby or in public areas. One mentioned a five minute walk to an internet café with a five-dollar-an-hour charge.

I plan to unplug while I’m away, but I wanted to know what challenges I might have in contacting my family. As well, once in a while I’ll need to check my e-mail or my Inbox will explode.

A cruise on the Yangtze River for four days and five nights advertises 29 internet stations at a fee of .35 cents a minute, considered low by ship standards. Uh-huh. That’s only $21.00 Canadian per hour. Can’t wait. I’ll take two.

These are my up-to-the-minute top priorities.

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Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

112 thoughts on “First Priorities

  1. I’m waiting for a “punch line.” So far, so good.

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  2. NO!!! You can’t unplug while your away! Your readers are addicted to you! It’s sort of like coffee, we have to have it. (Okay, I’ll beg with my hands clasp together—please!!!)

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  3. I wonder what sort of Internet restrictions you’ll run into there. Should be interesting. When do you leave?

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  4. I always read comments/reviews. I figure whatever is somewhere in the middle. Lots to think about!

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  5. The squat comments you have heard have to do with public accommodations, not hotels—–so—–plan ahead. Take a roll if you can. You’ll find incredible contrasts in China, unbelievable. People looking as though they live in 900 and in the next minute people dressed ready for Milan Fashion Week with a cell phone. Love it. The Yangtze Cruise is spectacular.

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    • Thank you, Rebecca. So you’ve been. Were you on your own or with a tour? Any other advice you can share?

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      • Enjoy it. Don’t let thoughts of wifi interrupt. Your adoring audience of all of us will wait. Don’t be afraid to dicker prices, stay with your tour group (we wandered off a university campus and truly almost got arrested by a twenty year old with a rifle). There are places you are free to wander, but make sure. If you have a favorite treat (like M&Ms) that travels take it. But don’t tell travel mates if it’s past the 4th day. They’ll corner you for it especially if it contains chocolate since that is not common in China. Take a spare fold-down suitcase or be prepared to buy one to bring loot home. A smart lady in our group took a small polaroid camera and made numerous friends in small villages. Try not to come home with more than one orphan. Always move with the biggest meanest in your group when crossing a busy street, hold hands at that point, pray. In fact, don’t cross unless with group or you find underground passage. With reference from tour guide, take friends for the best foot message of your life down a dingy street, take raincoat. With your red hair you may get shy people wanting to touch it or take your picture with their child. Tall men are adored there and often asked to pose in pictures. Well, I could go on but this is lengthy and really you are safe there and the people are friendly. For sure: take hand sanitizer and/or wipes. Enjoy it. Enjoy it.

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      • Thanks so much, Rebecca, for taking the time to respond again.

        When I first planned this trip last October, it never crossed my mind I might NEED to think about anything but packing and getting on the plane. My travelling friend has been all over Europe and I believe she will have more of a culture shock than me. At the information meeting, the presenter told us never to lollygag or stop because the crowds will sweep you away. 🙂

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  6. Have a fabulous time. Can’t wait to hear all about it.

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  7. Yes squatting for the toilets..if you can call them that lol ok start now bend and stretch, and repeat.. Get those thighs limbered up lovely 🙂 I don’t know if I could actually do a holiday without Internet access,how sad are we, but yes to keep in communication with family..that can be used as a priority 😉 how exciting, the clock is ticking 🙂

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  8. China, she is ON HER WAY!!!! Safe travels!!!!!

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  9. Have a great trip Tess. Two of the great adventures of travel…finding some toilet facility that at least has a door and the search for the elusive character known as Wifi. Think of the blog material you will return with!

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  10. One thing I hate about camping or music festivals is the dodgy toilet facilities! If it looks like the ones in your hotels are ok, then you’ll just have to cross your legs all day 😉 Unplugging from the internet is surprisingly easy to adapt to. The last three years when I’ve gone abroad in the summer with the kids, I’ve disconnected my phone from the internet, so I haven’t had any emails or anything coming through, and I haven’t used Wifi (Other than for Whatsapp messaging to check in back home). And I haven’t missed the internet at all. It’s only been for a week or so at a time, which is quite different to yours, but I’ve felt like if anything it would have got easier if it had carried on longer. Quite freeing actually! I hope you will at least write a paper journal as you go though, and internet it out upon your return! (I’m not sure that “internet it out” is a real phrase, but I’m standing by it!).

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    • A noun for twenty-five years and now a verb: Love it. Internet it out. Sounds like mailed but so much faster. 😀

      Yes, my memory isn’t what it used to be and anyway with so much to remember, I shall have to journal. I have a notebook fetish and already can’t decide which one to take. The spiral ones are best for me but heavy. Some I can’t bear to write in because they are too gorgeous to look at. 😀 😀 🙂

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  11. In several countries although I stayed in hotels with ‘western’ facilities, there is still the problem of being out all day! A little tip you mght think about, if you can wear skirts – full ones, it’s far easier than having to totally remove trousers because the floor around you is disgusting and there’s nowhere to hang your trousers (pants you cal them?) I remember a situation where I had to hand mine to a friend outside the doorbecause they’dhave got filthy inside. Also practce holding your breath 🙂 🙂 🙂 Of course China may be very different!

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    • No, you are correct. Even the travel doctor I went to see warned me about the conditions there.

      I must pass this information to my travelling friend. She won’t wear a skirt / dress to save her eye teeth. I’m glad I’ve posted this. Think of all the good advice I’ll receive. Thank you, Gilly.
      😀

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  12. And most of all have a wonderful time!

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  13. Internet or no, be sure to have a good time. and look forward to posts about your trip. 😉

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  14. I recently purchased a cell phone. Lived without one for a few years. Not sure I would like it as my go to internet source. Can’t wait to hear about your trip!

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  15. The reason to travel is so that it is not like home, although I concede there are various degrees and perhaps squatting is a little left field. The trip will be what you make it and the lens through which you chose to experience it. Go with the flow and just take it all in.

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  16. I hope you enjoy your trip–squatting and all. I had to squat a couple times even while in Italy when visiting a few old churches and other sites. It just makes for more interesting stories! I’m sure you will experience many new and different things–some you may love, and some you may not love quite so much. 😉

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  17. Congressmen and senators don’t know anything about squatting. That’s because they have not done positive diddly squat for decades so don’t know how.

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  18. Best way to unplug but not, use the internet cafe’s. If you really want to use a phone, but a throw away with minutes and international access, it will be far cheaper. Either that, or talk to your local provider about buying international access for your IPad for the duration of your stay, just be aware data is expensive this way.

    Squatting is usually reserved for public restrooms. You should practice. Carry your own TP (yes really do this). Personally, I carried handy wipes and lots of hand sanitizer when I traveled in Asia.

    I am so excited for you!

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    • Hi Val. Nice to see you and thank you for the tips.
      I like the idea of a throw away phone. The current one I have is pay as you go (my emergency go-to at $100 for 12 months unless I use up all the minutes before time’s up).

      I understand you can not always depend on handrails in public toilets. The elasticity in my knees is shot. 🙂 I have already packed handy wipes but will get hand sanitizer and TP. I’m going to need a big over the shoulder bag. 🙂

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  19. Sounds exciting! Whew! I think you did good to let the tour group book you. Take lots of pictures. Beware of scammers. They love Americans. My husband got scammed by Chinese offering two iPads for the price of one. I knew something was up when they would not accept paypal, but he did it western union anyway. Bad outcome.

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    • I’m making a list of your suggestions and others I receive.
      I’m glad of the tour group too. This is a once-in-a-life-time one-of-a-kind-trip. Why did I pick the one with the biggest culture shock? Ha ha.

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  20. Tess, I really don’t think your inbox will explode. Yes, it’ll be extremely full but there are things you can do to limit the amount. Fill out the on-vacation form in your setting page at your email carrier. That will prevent 2nd emails. Go the your pages at WP where you can edit how you receive your notifications of posts. There you can choose not to get any notifications for each one. When you come back, you just reset it.

    I’ve been overseas. I lived in Greece for a couple of years. Those of us in North America have many conveniences that others around the world think are luxuries. Having a ‘western toilet’ is a big luxury in Asia. Most people have what we call bomb shoots, which is just a hole in the floor. Even in Greece, you’ll find this in the more rural areas. Asian are hung up on privacy. What you said about the window in that one bathroom isn’t concerning to them. Because you are going in tour-type situation, you’ll probably get the best that they have to offer. Just don’t expected to be as terrific as it is in North America. We’re spoiled brats over here.

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  21. Heh squats can equate to firm shapely thighs, what’s not to love Tess. Your post brought a smile to my day today Tess and yesterday was a rough one. thanks for this and keep us posted!!!

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  22. Tess, at least you’re getting prepared, and getting organised. When you go, you can go and relax… and have a good time!

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  23. I hope you remember all the advice I’ve tried to impart, my lovely friend…

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  24. Go with the flow and have fun! oh yeah, I hope you have easy access to Imodium…

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  25. Tess, keep in mind that if you don’t want any new experiences, you can simply stay home. And that our grandparents survived daily activities similar to what you’ll experience in China. And that I am SO JEALOUS that you are going to have the time of your life while I will be back here, doing what I always do.

    A friend told me that when he travels, he doesn’t eat any fruit or vegetables without a thick, removable shell – bananas, pineapple, etc., or else he only eats it well cooked. Hope your travel doc advised you some meds to bring with you, just in case.

    Have a wonderful time!

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    • Thanks, Sharon. The doc ruled salads out and most raw food unless cooked. I don’t recall anything said about fruits, so thank YOU, Sharon.Good to know. I’ve added your suggestions to my list. Must share with lady I’m travelling with as she doesn’t do “computers”.

      Now it’s time for list making. Bought awesome Tootsies running shoes today and a cross-the-body-strap purse today for hands-free. I have knapsacks but am afraid zippers are too tempting in crowded foreign environments.

      I read a guidebook for Singapore two days ago and choked with laughter about the author’s warning and remark about, “crappy T-shirts”.

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  26. Lucky squatting, Ms. Tess! And good luck in Chicago – I just flew in there yesterday and out this morning – this muse was not used to waking up to snow falling! It was beautiful. I can’t wait to hear more about your trip as it unfolds.

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  27. Exciting but a tad nerve-wracking. It is what it is and will be what it will be. Not sure i would have enough nerve. Enjoy, Tess.

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  28. I will miss you if you unplug but will also understand. I’m sure you will enjoy every minute!

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  29. The hotels are fine, it is the temples etc. that you visit you may have to squat but you can do that young lady, nothing to it…:)
    Check out ‘viber’. I talk and sms my daughter all the time from Australia to Holland and it is free. You can download it to your phone. That way you have connection if you need it. I have waited up to 9 hours at airports. I find it good as the flights from Australia are so long that walking most of that time not only lets me sleep well but I feel like I have the blood flowing ready for the long sit. If I don’t do a lot of walking in the stop over I am found at the back of the plane doing exercises along with others.

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  30. Oh, yes…squatting. I remember it well from my European camping days. At least I was young and limber then. I could tell you stories, Tess, all each more horrible than the last! Have a great trip and remember, it’s ALL material…

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  31. Tess – You will have a marvelous time and so many wonderful memories to share. We are on the mailing list of several ‘travel’ catalogues and wish I had the name of one or two you could request. They have solutions for the squatting situation, numerous sanitation issues are addressed, and on and on. As for the internet – coming from someone that’s been hacked into by an international group, please don’t set yourself up for hacking. The international rings are savvy beyond compare and you don’t know you’ve been in their clutches until nothing is left.

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    • I bought a spiffy pair of Tootsies running shoes this weekend. They were expensive but I’m worth it. I hope I can keep up with everyone. 🙂

      I never thought of that. Maybe I should just find an internet cafe to contact my family?

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      • Tess – Is it a matter of life and death that you contact your family? Will they have a way to contact you if there’s an emergency at home?
        I was away this weekend, only to another state, but I still refused to log into the hotel’s wi fi. I elected to allow my own internet provider to roam instead of taking a chance of another hacking.
        Are you wearing your Tootsies so they’ll be good and broken in before you leave on your trip? Oh what fun you are going to have.

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      • I haven’t but it is on my calendar (sheesh…I mean it). All these little jobs I must take care of.

        OK, you’ve sold me. No WiFi. Thank you. What does this mean (see I’m technically challenged to the 9th degree) “…allow my own provider to roam instead of taking a chance of another hacking.” I don’t understand about your own provider… 😦

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  32. Have fun – we will be here when you come back with the stories of your adventures.

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  33. Squat toilets are all part of the holiday experience but, just like Turkey, I’m sure you’ll have a choice between pedestal and crouch.

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  34. I love your priorities Tess – the toilets and the WiFi. I am just the same!!! I’m so excited for you, and I’m not even going 😉

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  35. Had more than 500 pics from one week of being there. Internet is pretty accessible in hotels. Go to restaurants where they have pics of their dishes. IF you ask for water they may give you warm water! Extra room in your luggage -things are so cheap there-except for oolong tea (so delicious) and artwork painted on silk. Even in department stores you can barter almost anything (except food &hotel) have the time of your life!

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  36. Excited for you as you anticipate the big adventure!

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  37. I’m looking forward to the story about your trip. I’ve always wanted to see that part of the world!
    I hope your 4 and 5 star arrangements turn out well. We were told we were staying in 5 star places on a tour to Jordan, and one of those ended up being a canvas tent with a camp cot…

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