At last, we arrived at the hotel and were given an hour to freshen up before the welcoming dinner in the hotel dining room.
Table number 4, awaited, set for eight and covered with a red tablecloth. A three-foot diameter glass Lazy Susan (size approximate) adorned the center.
I heard neck vertebrae snap. Sue and I gawked at each other. The waitress attended to the men first. She shook out each cloth napkin and placed one corner beneath the dinner plate—smaller than a bread plate—with the opposite corner on a lap. Picture a square napkin held by one corner with points facing north and south and east and west. This placement also protected the overhang of the tablecloth, I imagine, should anyone slop while eating. Fallen food could s-l-i-d-e down the napkin and into your lap, but not on to the floor. What do you do with the resulting ‘leftovers’? Mash them into the napkin?
Did I hear the ruffle of rooster tail feathers? I bet the men in our party hadn’t felt this special since Momma kissed a booboo. This goes to show how different our worlds still are, and will in all probability never change, or I might be wrong. I giggled to myself and figured they might as well enjoy the attention.
Once everyone’s serviettes had been organized, the subject of drinks came up. Choice of beverage were water, a soft drink (Coke or ginger ale and never diet) or beer. Once the apportioned amount per table was used up, too bad. The waitress opened two small bottles of water but this wasn’t enough for all the thirsty visitors. Exchanges between soft drinks / beer for water were incomprehensible to staff; no substitutions and no flexibility. Our guide, Robert, offered to go to the store to buy more but the hotel staff wouldn’t allow it. (More on drinks later).
We were called the English Group 8. Another group followed us sometime later, a full busload called the French Group. Busy at our own table, I still overheard a loud voice call: une, deux, trois upon their arrival. Why were these adults being treated like children, I wondered but pushed the thought away.
First dinner in China menu (incomplete due to my befuddled brain)
Robert hung around to describe the platters of food (family style) as they were placed on the Lazy Susan before he left for the subway and an hour’s ride home.
- Hors d’oeuvres: anchovies sandwiched between thin slices of pork (a guess)
- Tiny cucumbers, about an inch long, (looked like beginning baby growths) served as a salad
- Bean salad, French cut
- Cabbage something (tasty)
- Corn soup (no corn seen and no corn flavor)
- Sweet and sour pork (most familiar taste)
- Fried rice with peas
- Beef slices
- Pork, thick slices of boiled bacon (boiled fat, ugh)
- Raw pumpkin slices (unflavored not well-liked) and dates for dessert
Dinner over, neither Sue nor I now recall what time we called it a night. I imagine we collapsed into bed soon afterwards, thankful for a pillow and a comfy bed. The unnerving thing is neither of us has any recollection. None. We can’t even embellish a story if our hands were shoved into fire.
Take a gander at this, our room:
You’re going to scratch your head and we did as well. After finding this oddity, no-one we asked gave a straight answer. The wall between the bathroom and sleeping area is glass, floor to ceiling. A venetian blind is in place to open or close. Here the bottom half has been turned down for privacy. Check out these links for comments:
A few additional facts about China:
- China has FOUR municipalities: Beijing (the capital), Chongqing, Shanghai and Tianjin
- There are 55 nationalities, PLUS the Han People who are the majority at 93%
- The rest are minorities
- Mandarin is the main language, although written the same all over the country, the dialects are different. Everywhere.
Next Week: Beijing Part 3 (Day 3) – First Tour Day (coming June 6)
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