How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE


On the Yangtze, Part 4

 Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

The Wu Gorge had been scheduled for 4:30 p.m. with dinner following our return at 8:30. However, the day turned wet with light rain and mist by midday. A PA announcement advised dinner time change to 5:30 with departure at 6:00. Hello, heartburn.  I wondered if this was worth the both due to the spraying drizzle and low ceiling clouds. I thought maybe an adventure awaited and against my better judgment, rushed to catch the bus with our group.

Robert, our first guide in Beijing, had another group onboard. When we left for the Three Gorges Dam, (the world’s largest hydro-electricity project) he took 0ur English Group 8 under his wing. A local man, Max, was our bus excursion guide. I don’t believe he knew how to do anything but smile and appear happy. Even over the loud speaker, his soft voice and thick accent were difficult to understand and he wasn’t informative. At one point, Robert pitched in to help.

                      © All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

Rain pelted the bus as we continued. After traveling over scary, wet and curving roads, we arrived an hour or so later. Too dark to see anything, we were hustled into the Visitor Center, the surroundings shrouded in fog and shadows. The women visited the Happy House as the first order of business. We lined up for tickets to see the indoor model of the gorge. It was stunning. I took pictures but replicas are not the same as the real thing.

My hands shook with excitement, grateful we’d arrived safely. I was happy to see the reproduction but disappointed we would not see the real gorge.

The real deal wasn’t in the cards. Whose idea was it to go ahead with this tour so late (in rain, fog, and dark)? Might anyone be anything but dissatisfied? I was, wouldn’t you be?

All manner of souvenirs we’d seen everywhere were displayed in the gift shop: pearls, various colors of jade, tee shirts, as well as books about the Gorges. Ten minutes for shopping and then outside into the drizzle with the local guide (Max) to the observation area, which I couldn’t make out (dark and rain mist). The pillars he pointed out were swathed in mystery like in a bad Sci-Fi movie, similar to Mount Olympus in the clouds, all mist, and vapor with an inky black void below.

Robert announced our urgent return by 9:30 because the ship had been scheduled to go through the locks by 1:00 a.m. I had doubts about the bus tires in the rain as we rushed back. What a waste of another hour plus the cost of gasoline. Rush. Rush. Rush.

Rain and dark proved to be bad companions for an enjoyable tour. I decided to disregard negative feelings, but in truth, I should have paid attention to my gut. The trip was a waste of three-and-a half-hours, driving in rain and biting my nails to stubs.

Upon our return, crew members with flashlights lit our way back from the bus to the ship because of the dark and slippery conditions.

“Watch your step.”

“Welcome back.”

“Watch your step; be careful.”

“We missed you.”

Cheesy, I know, but I was miserable, and couldn’t help half-believing the words after I’d heard them a half-dozen times. Joking, I said, “I missed you too.”

Weird what wet weather and misery will force me to do. I almost believed their words. Not.

Three Gorges Quick Facts:

  • Prevalent here are rice, tea, tobacco, sweet potato, corn and canola oil
  • Common trees: camphor (fragrant) almost no mosquitoes; magnolia, pine, and cypress look similar (cypress trees look like an umbrella or tower); poplar
  • Local birds: sparrows, swallows, Magpies
  • Work hours: work until 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. (peak time), school, factories
  • Motor bikes popular but bicycles more because of low pollution (also solar panels on roofs)
  • Private car ownership increasing as well as traffic jams and air pollution
  • China Policy since 1927: only 1 child, now changed to two. If 3rd one, you’ll be fined just as you once were for more than one. Preference is a boy, especially in the countryside.

Education:

  • Costs 6,000 to 7,000 Yuan per year for baby age 3, 4, or 5 in Kindergarten (morning drop-off, lunch, short time sleep. Grandparents or parents pickup). Costs more than primary school from age 6 (learn music, politics, English from grade 3 or 5).
  • Middle school: junior 3 years and senior 3 years
  • University: 3, 4, 5 or 7 years, must pay depending on profession studied. Must pass a college entrance exam before being accepted into college or university of choice.

~ * ~

Next on August 18th: On the Yangtze, Part 5

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. I hope to return soon. 
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your kind and continued support more than I can express.


Cruising the Yangtze, Part 3

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

I awoke before six again too lazy to rise until seven. Sue and I moseyed down to breakfast and were the first arrivals at The English 8 table.

              © All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8 (Morning)

I liked our waiter, who was young and sweet—maybe 17—cute too. I hated the thought he was endearing only with hopes of a tip at the end of our trip. Tips have already been paid according to our travel agent, but some of our group still tipped our guides at the end of their turn with us.

       © All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.  (Yangtze Bridge.)

The room for a 9:45 scarf ‘class’ was packed. Every female on board must have been in attendance with a few husbands in tow. The demonstration was great, but I wasn’t. Sue did well with the scarf creations, but I struggled and sucked at it. I did learn a couple of new ways to wear a shawl, but all the new scarf strategy escapes me now. I succeeded in not buying a scarf as I have too many at home already.

Later, we watched a PowerPoint presentation about the Yangtze and its interesting points. I couldn’t bring myself to scratch any more notes. Later in the presentation, I found myself nodding. My chin dropped to my chest and I sat up with a start. It was warm in the room; I hadn’t done anything physical since we boarded the ship. I didn’t fault the presenter (Ivy), yet on the other hand, I did. She wasn’t animated during this informational dump and sounded like she was reading a boring article, or maybe she was bored.

Two movies were suggested we look up on the internet: Still Life and Up the Yangtze. I haven’t come across good links for either of these yet.

Afterward, Sue took 40 winks while I typed up notes. We’d decided against an early lunch because we weren’t hungry. Big surprise. Our goal was to go for 12:30 and have salads only, and of course, I had wine. Three glasses. Tsk. Task. The cruising life is not for me. I need to walk, explore. Move.

Salads

Thai Flavor Beef Salad with Fish Sauce; Fruit Salad; Garbanzo Bean Salad (with leftover sausage from breakfast, I’m sure); Pig ear with vegetables (no thanks); bean curd with shallot; mixed five-bean salad (just cold vegetables: corn, peas, beans etc.).

Romaine; large purple cabbage leaves; sliced purple cabbage; grape tomatoes; carrot sticks; raisins; crumbled real bacon; sliced black olives; three dressings: Italian, Thousand Island and French.

Watermelon slices; peeled, sliced orange rounds; pineapple; Longan

Main

Rice balls; steamed chicken and straw mushrooms with soy sauce; baked purple potato; braised squid; pasta with tomato sauce; steamed egg; Litchi meat with sweet and sour sauce; fried fish with garlic; stir fry vegetables; steamed white rice; beef and carrot soup; stewed spare rib soup with wax gourd (is this yesterday’s leftovers?); buns.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

At 3:00 p.m., I noticed the Yangtze River was green, like real water, not the yellow soup I mentioned earlier. Imagine that. It was foggy and it had rained in the morning. Our ship kept sounding its horn. At lunch an announcement was made: because of the fog, river traffic was one-way. The possibility of making the 4:30 time-slot for visiting the Gorge was uncertain. What did this mean? If we were moving forward and in the traffic lane, what was slowing us down except for the fog? It wasn’t that thick. What did one-way traffic have to do with anything? All this was confusing, with no answers offered.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                          © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Departure time for the Three Gorges kept changing. The fog continued, as well as the rain and it was dark and after six o’clock. I didn’t care if we made it to the Gorge even if they had night lights there. What would be the point? Despite the wet and overcast weather, we were finally on our way. I entertained thoughts of a cozy bed and a good read instead.

~ * ~

 Chinese Saying:

            What kind of jam cannot be eaten? A traffic jam.

~ * ~

Next on August 11th, Cruising the Yangtze River, Part 4

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. I hope to return soon. 
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your kind and continued support more than I can express.


Cruising the Yangtze, Part 2

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

(Photo shortage. Nothing to take pictures of and I forgot to ‘preserve’ the buffet. Pictures next post.)

Chinese Saying:

  “If you run out of oil for the hot pot just pour in some wine.”

~ * ~

Sue returned livid from the morning’s excursion to the Red Cliffs. It had been awful, she told me. The group had started with 26 people and ended up with six. Why did some say it had been a wonderful tour when Sue thought it was a waste of time? Why didn’t people tell the truth? There had been nothing to see except fake building fronts.

Lunch Offerings

Cold salads: pasta; orange broccoli; apple and celery; dry bean curd with sour sauce; chicken in herb sauce and red beans with vegetables

Salad Bar

Romaine; red cabbage (chunks and sliced); cucumber slices; grape tomatoes; sliced black olives; real bacon bits; Parmesan; cubed melon; adorable baby oranges and watermelon slices

Dressings

Italian, Thousand Island, and French

Hot lunch

Dumplings; roasted chicken wings; dry-fried string beans; roasted pork with bamboo shoots; roasted potatoes; braised fish with tomato and sesame; stir fried mixed vegetable with a sauce; French Fries; seasonal green vegetables; steamed white rice; creamed vegetable soup; mushroom and chicken soup.

White bread, sliced, rolls, and butter

Desserts

Lemon Jello; tarts; strawberry cheese cake; caramel custard; green tea mousse and chocolate cake

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                                        © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Onboard Activities 

The onboard doctor and his assistant gave a Chinese Medicine lecture, primarily about acupuncture. I found the presentation interesting, but I’m sure the purpose was to drum up business. A line of people signed up for a consultation afterward. I believe a fee figured in there, but I don’t remember clearly.

Later, an hour-long old documentary was shown about the Three Gorges Dam and the evacuation of the people.

We dressed up for the Captain’s cocktail party (6:00 – 7:00 p.m.). I wore a long sundress and my favorite four-inch heels (hard to put on over bare feet, but no way was I wearing hose). Sue dressed in a skirt and top and her new shoes, but her feet and ankles were still too swollen. She felt self-conscious showing them off and changed into pants.

Up the stairs, we toddled in our finery. The crew was lined up in the foyer, on Deck 5. Flutes of cheap champagne were handed out and the crew stood in a receiving line outside the entrance to the bar and restaurant. I was startled that the captain was the shortest male in attendance. He had nice teeth and his smile made me think of a certain Russian leader–a shorter version. Why had this crossed my mind? I can’t make this stuff up. Honest.

Four females partnered with male crew members started the dancing. Not all danced ballroom well but the long gowns were interesting as were their efforts. Next, the dancers each picked members of the audience and one fellow from our English Group 8 was chosen.He obligated, grinning. I’m glad it wasn’t me.

Brave couples joined the dancers for the Chicken Dance, the Macarena, the Twist, a line dance and a jive. I noticed two young guys (late thirties?) appeared to share the same girl for dancing. I’m always surprised when any male gets up to dance without a gun to his head. I guess the spirit really moved these two to shake their booties.

Robert, our first tour guide in China, was on board with a new group of tourists. We the English Group 8 had no one while on the ship, unlike all the other groups.

Cocktails over, the crew lined up across the dance floor, toasts were made and drunk. The captain schmoozed and moved around the room, but it appeared to me his heart wasn’t in it. A camera guy followed him as close as print on paper. Pictures would be on sale soon after dinner. Monitors with screen shows were available to view and choose photos for purchase. Nothing happens here without a chance of making an extra buck I guess.

Supper

Cold salads: Romaine; red cabbage; sliced red cabbage; toothpick-sliced raw carrots; chickpeas; Logan (lychee fruit); cubed melon; sliced watermelon and cubed pineapple.

Quartered tomatoes sprinkled with Parmesan; corn and tuna salad, cauliflower salad with (thin) white cheese slices; squid with local style broccoli with Natto and mixed cow peas with pickles

Main

Roasted shoulder butt (what? That’s what the card said.); mushroom sauce; black pepper sauce; fried pork with peppers; roast Taro; stir fried pork and mushroom; chicken with potatoes; steamed fish fillet with spiced cabbage; grilled eggplant; boiled pork with mixed mushrooms; pizza squares; white rice; white cream potato soup and stewed spare ribs soup with wax gourd

Desserts

Chocolate brownies; peach pie (cake); strawberry mousse; jelly roll and cake with icing.

I don’t eat dessert. When I asked how they were, the ladies who tried them stated they were tasteless and it was impossible to tell one from the other.

After dinner, I sweet talked our young waiter to top up my wine glass, which I then took back to the cabin. Another lady in our group asked for a filled glass as well and gave it to me. I kept Sue talking till around 11:00 p.m. because I didn’t want the lights out yet, and wanted to type up some of my notes from the day.

~ * ~

Next on August 4th, Cruising the Yangtze River, Part 3

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. I hope to return soon. 
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your kind and continued support more than I can express.


Cruising the Yangtze, Part 1

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

My apologies for the scarcity of photos in this post.

I awoke at 5:50 A.M. Outside, the weather appeared dull and overcast with a veil of hazy fog—not smog—I hoped.   I called it misty because we were on the water after all. The previous night, we’d set sail around 10:00 p.m. but were stationary when Sue and I set off to breakfast.

Image Courtesy of RJ, Early morning mist

Sue had played with the alarm clock the night before, not sure how it worked. To her relief, it buzzed at 6:20 exactly as she’d set it. but we hadn’t needed it. I have no idea why we woke so early. Might it have been the low hum of engines stopping?

The shower tiny, but efficient and shoved into the corner of the small space, had a rounded, two-door closure, which met each other in the center for a snug fit. I’m pleased to report the water was hot and stayed inside the enclosure though I had sparse elbow room to move around.

Breakfast

We made it to the Early Bird breakfast (7:00 – 7:30) for the free coffee and arrived at 6:55. It was pleasant to linger over three coffees and sweet rolls. Why were we told the coffee was free? All buffets were inclusive as part of the complete tour package.

I didn’t take inventory at our later breakfast (8:30 – 9:00 A.M.) but had a hard-boiled egg, buns covered in sunflower seeds, strawberry jam, yogurt (plain and watery, but sweet—maybe too sweet), white cheese slices. No need to rush to the Early Bird the next day as the coffee was free at the regular breakfast as well.  I had a giggle over this. What was Ivy, our presenter the previous night, thinking when she advised it was only free at 7:00 A.M.? Maybe it was the way she said it that we’d misunderstood. I had the feeling she was quite proud of her English and I confess it was quite good and 1000 percent better than my Chinese. Maybe she meant coffee was available for early risers?

Click HERE to read about the Battle_of_Red_Cliffs

I chose to pass on the morning excursion to the Red Cliffs (9:00 – 11:00), not because I had a need to be alone, but because I wanted some free time, and to wash out a few things and relax. Sue, however, looked forward to this tour.

Click HERE for images of red+cliffs ruins in Chibi

While I enjoyed my afternoon lazying in a deck chair on the balcony, the maid came in to make up the room. I told her she didn’t need to; we would. No. She had to. Throughout this trip, I noticed rules were written in stone and never changed in any way. No adjustments nor skipping or replacing items or details. After making the beds, the maid made her way into the bathroom and came right out again. “One towel and one face cloth missing,” she said. Eyes wide, her hands and voice trembled. I almost laughed aloud.

“I washed some tee shirts and wrapped one in the towel to draw out the water faster.” I pointed to the second deck chair.

“You can give to Laundry.” She pulled herself together and reached for the pricing brochure on the desk.

“Maybe next time,” I said even as I had no intention of following through with my lie. I unrolled my Tees and handed her the towel and face cloth. Her body relaxed from head to toes.

The Yangtze is a true yellow and dirty, harboring floating junk here and there. All the junk was small with a few branches, not large chunks of anything. I couldn’t help picturing someone emptying a bucketful of cigarette butts as I saw those as well. In spots I noticed large and small ripples as if there were a sandbar underneath—I hoped not. I knew the ripples weren’t from the ship stirring the water because we weren’t moving. I waited for the excursion group to return.

Image courtesy of RJ. This boat is a mystery.

Rusting barges and tugboats transported coal, sand, and gravel alongside and then past our ship. I couldn’t imagine anyone fishing in this river. Would they? A blue ship with three white decks cruised by. Automobiles took up every square inch of deck space. I don’t recall their makes or models. and remember wondering if any every slid off.

After Sue left on the Chibi tour, an alarm sounded over the intercom. A loud announcement in several languages advised this was a fire drill but to stay in our cabins. The drill was for the ship’s crew. Soon after, we were given permission to leave our cabins. I decided to go to Reception to use the Internet.

The second floor presented a throng of crew members in life-jackets over smart blue uniforms. My guess is a health and safety meeting was in progress. A handsome, thirtysomething male in a navy uniform (the only one with gold braiding on the cuffs and outfitted with a life-jacket as well), stood aside to allow me past. Shoot, Don’t you just love a man in uniform? Each and every one replicated a super handsome male or was that just me? Face burning, I plodded through the testosterone-filled lobby to the front desk. On the way back, I stumbled along again, as they all appeared to watch though their meeting continued. For once, I found myself the only female in a room filled wall-to-wall (maybe not quite) with smiling, receptive (maybe distracted) men. Sigh.

~ * ~

Next on July 28th: On the Yangtze River, Part 2

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. I hope to return soon. 
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your kind and continued support more than I can express.


Wuhan, Part 2: Cruise Ship

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Harry, our new soft-spoken Chinese tour guide (30-ish) met us at the airport. We walked for miles and miles to reach our awaiting bus, which smelled bad: between burned electrical wiring and forgotten musty rags.

We asked him to use the microphone as he choked off facts about Wuhan during the drive, but still, he didn’t project enough. In fact, speaking louder did not help his English. He sounded as if he had a hot potato in his mouth and was the least confident guide to date. The bus trip took forever before we reached our destination.

Dark had been gathering before we arrived at the docked cruise ship. As we exited the bus, Harry waved goodbye and vanished. The ship sparkled like a mirage, outlined with tiny white lights as if it was Christmas. We dragged our luggage down long, rickety planks of wood and clanging sheets of steel. Slam. Bang. Clatter. The ship’s welcoming crew members shone flashlights at intervals along the way and cautioned we watch our step. At long last, we boarded and were handed heated hand towels and tea or apple juice. I wondered if cruise ships here always received holidayers in the dark to give them a glowing first impression.

Quick Facts:

  • Population Wuhan: 12 million
  • It takes 2-1/2 hours to drive from East to West Wuhan
  • Three towns joined into one in 1927 and called Wuhan
  • This is an educational standard next to Beijing: 87 universities; Wuhan has 69 universities
  • Smallest college in Wuhan has 8,000 students and the largest has 50,000
  • A total of 1.5 million students in the city of Wuhan
  • So far, our bus drivers have made U-turns as a matter of course

The three main industries are:

  1. Steel and iron (10 square kilometers)
  2. Automobile factories: Citron (since 1993 venture with France), also with Honda and Toyota
  3. Tobacco is main industry and state-owned factory. Produces cigarettes. Pays the second most tax next to Citron manufacturing.

Cigarettes:

  • 1-pack = 10 cigarettes
  • $3.50 USD for cheapest ones and locals smoke these
  • Special cigarettes are exported: sold by carton of 10 packages: 3,000 Yuan or $500.00 USD
  • Factory located 80 kilometers outside Wuhan

Nightlife:

  • Most important social skills in China: smoking and drinking
  • Legal drinking age is 16, same as eligibility for a driver’s license
  • China white wine very strong: 35 to 43% (sounds closer to white lightning than wine)
  • In northern China, one famous brand 70 to 75% (rice wine) high alcohol content. Only the people in northern China drink this because the temperatures are cold there.
  • Chinese saying, “If you run out of oil for the hot pot, just pour in some wine.”
  • Traffic is terrible after 9:00 p.m. as the bars open
  • The bars are loud and packed with young people (9:00 till midnight); the older generation can’t stand the noise
  • Life isn’t much different for the young people in the east from the west.
  • Square dancing is popular with Seniors, who enjoy it mornings and evenings in the parks
  • Young people don’t like the sound of the loud dance music on weekends because they like to sleep late.

This is square dancing? I wonder why they call it that?

Weather:

June is the beginning of summer. The average temperature is 30 degrees Celsius. There are three ‘ovens’ (also called furnaces) in this area:

  1. Wuhan
  2. Chongchin
  3. Nanking

Six-and-a-half to seven months of the year, everyone wears Tee shirts in Wuhan because of the heat and humidity. A historical record high of 48 degrees Celsius occurred in 2006. Usual temperature is 44 or 45 degrees. When it gets this hot, school and work are canceled, a policy made ten years ago. Everyone now has air conditioning to combat the heat.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

~ * ~

Something extra for you:

http://herschelian.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/bodysnatchers-in-china/

~ * ~

Next on July 21 –  On the Yangtze River, Part 1

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. I hope to return soon. 
Thank you for reading and for your kind and continued support.


Shanghai, Part 6: Dinner and a Show

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

When we arrived at the hotel for dinner, a clamor ensued for the small elevator. Eight bodies crammed into this tiny, inadequate space. Something wasn’t right. “Sue’s missing,” I said. The rest of us continued up to the restaurant (7th floor stop), but Jackie returned to street level to find her. At the last minute, she had decided to change her shoes and hadn’t noticed we’d all left.

Dinner:

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Tomato and egg drop soup
  • Noodles (delicious, cannot guess flavor)
  • Potatoes with chicken in dark sauce
  • Sweet and sour chicken balls with red and green peppers
  • Eggplant in some kind of sauce
  • Breaded fish
  • Thin, pizza-flavoured crescent biscuits
  • Baby Bok-choy
  • Cut up orange for dessert

(Can you believe I forgot to take pictures? Yes, I’m surprised as well.)

Dinner finished by 5:45 p.m. Thebus wasn’t due until 7:00 to take the group to The Plaza at Shanghai Center Theater (10 minutes away) for the 7:30 Acrobatics Show. Sue and I took our time walking up and down Nanjing Road West, as well as some side streets to kill time (the opposite direction of our afternoon shopping).

We came across a shop named I Found, guessing this might be a second-hand store, but didn’t enter to investigate. I don’t know if they have used clothing stores in China. Why wouldn’t they?

I can’t recall if this was some kind of educational building/center we passed. Railings surrounded it about every six feet alternated with six or eight feet of brick wall. In the railing, which looked like a gate, tiny 3-inch flower pots had been packed in tight, row on row, between the railing up, down and across. What a stunning presentation. I’ve never seen flowers grow perpendicularly.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                                  © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Too long on our feet for one day, bone weary and foot swollen, Sue and I stumbled back to the hotel to wait with the rest of our group for the bus. Already it was dark. I mentioned to Jackie our guide, I hadn’t noticed gas stink or big city smell from the many cars on the busy road–no smell of pollution at all. “See,” he said, “you can’t believe everything you hear.” The statement sounded defensive. Hmm.

 The Plaza at Shanghai Theater is an impressive building. Masses of buses and hordes of people surged forward in an orderly fashion and without incident. The numbers were mind-boggling. We were one of umpteen tour groups in attendance. I asked Jackie how often the theater had a show. Every night tourists crammed the 990-seat theater to the rafters. How many tours, I wondered, visit on a constant basis? Talk about easy tourist income.

We had first-balcony, front-row-center seats. Fabulous. Someone asked Jackie the cost of the tickets. He said depending on the seating, between $56.00 to $116.00 Canadian per person.

The 90-minute show consisted of an astounding dozen acts. Other than Cirque de Soleil, you’ll never see such fluid, seemingly effortless movement, amazing costumes, and attractive performers. Among them:

 

  • Unicyclists
  • A glass balancing act
  • A young lady in a giant hula hoop performed graceful moves inside:
  • A wordless comedy sketch
  • A grown male and a young boysupposed toysperformed unbelievable contortions, again fluid and dazzling. Control of movement and upper body strength were outstanding.
  • Female (sea nymphs) performed underwater dances. Talk about smooth as liquid pouring into your glass
  • A mature woman, wearing a top with tight lace sleeves, closed the show flicking foot-tall playing cards into the audience. Her set closed when she tossed what appeared to be hundreds of them onto the stage. On and on they came. Where had they been hidden? How did she do that?

The Bund in the distance, as seen on the way back to the hotel:

Special note:

I’ve written in the past that we saw no pollution. Check out this blog. This lady has been living in Beijing for some time. Her story is a little different from mine. Maybe we simply lucked out and missed those bad days.

http://herschelian.wordpress.com/

~ * ~

Next on July 7th:  Flight to Wuhan

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. I hope to return soon. 
Thank you for reading and for your kind and continued support.


Shanghai, Part 5 – Nanjing Road

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Tummies full, when we left the restaurant around 12:45., the weather had become humid.

http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/shanghai/west-nanjing-road.htm (what’s on offer)

The shopping area is pedestrian-friendly with an occasional trolley/mini tour bus. Prominent other than McDonalds and Haagen-Daaz, were expensive elite, famous brand-name stores. I wondered how the young couples afforded their purchases. Rich daddies, I suppose.

The English Group 8 turned down (yet another) museum tour which added more (boring) shopping time. This time Sue and I struck out together. Four hours to kill. My poor aching feet.

We decided to explore beyond the main street. On a shabby side street a couple of blocks from Nanjing Road, I bought a bottle of Dynasty wine in a grocery/variety store ($10.00 CAD / $8.00 USD). I had to borrow money from Sue again as I had scraped all the cash from my wallet for the silk-filled comforter and pillow before lunch. A corkscrew would be helpful, but the store had not nor any facsimile. I decided to worry about that later.

If we needed the Happy House while shopping, Jackie had advised, any large hotel would accommodate us. Timing is everything, isn’t it? We chose the Sofitel Hotel where we had to walk past a security guard. Nervous, but avoiding eye-contact, these fine western ladies strutted in as if we belonged and ended up on the garage level.How did we get lost? Ph-ew the gas fumes.

Sue headed to a glass elevator. A lanky Caucasian man, fisting his briefcase handle, joined us inside. He noticed our confusion and described the location of the closest ladies’ washroom. He had come from Michigan on business eight years before and considered himself a local now, his return to the U.S. doubtful.

Shopping Nanjing Road  (pictures galore)

Out on the street again, Sue spied a Haagen-Daaz restaurant. We were ready for a good sit out of the heat and a cold ice-cream. We had two doors from which to choose: one with a lineup and the other with none. A waitress stopped me at the door. Her voice raised, she said, “Wrong way!” The lineup at the opposite end of the restaurant was where we must enter. Oh?  Why had the other door been open? Back to the sidewalk and the other door we trotted to join hordes of others. It didn’t take long, though, before we were seated.

We waited—and waited some more. Three young girls who’d arrived after we had were already given menus. Not us, the only older Caucasians. We waited. With the earlier rush over, I chalked this up to bad service. Was this abuse because we dared walk through the wrong door? A girl finally came bearing glasses of water with lemon wedges and menus. We didn’t touch the water.

Good thing we weren’t in a hurry. A waitress toddled over and took our order. Finally. One scoop of ice cream (chocolate with pralines) cost 33 Yuan each ($5.50 USD). We waited and waited for our order to arrive, but I didn’t mind. It was a relief to take a load off and sit in the air-conditioned restaurant.

Our bill took forever to come, too. I wondered why not go up to the cash with our dish to show what we’d ordered and pay. At home, we’d have done this no problem, but Sue, usually outspoken about most things, wasn’t comfortable doing so. In the end, we did anyway, but the cashier appeared frazzled. His rhythm had been broken and he made us wait. Again. I now owed Sue 83 Yuan, (not quite $14.00 US). That’s what I get for leaving money in the hotel safe.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Two things I noticed while window-shopping. We had been discouraged from interacting with beggars, who were uncommon. Where were they hidden? I noticed only two: one a disfigured man shortly after the bus dropped us off; the second, a miserable old man who shook a rusty tin can in our faces wanting a donation while we sat in a park. He rattled the meager contents, but we ignored him. He scowled and moved on, sneering over his shoulder. I hoped he hadn’t put a curse on us.

Except for a handful of citizens over the age of 40 or 50, most everyone on the street appeared to be under 25 or 30.
~ * ~

Next on June 30th – Shanghai, Part 6: Dinner and a Show

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.

~ *~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. Hope to return soon. 
Thank you for reading and for your kind and continued support.

					
		
	


Shanghai, Part 4 – Silk Workshop

I enjoyed another lumberjack’s breakfast. Afterward, we were treated to yet another factory tour. This one was about silk and the most enjoyable so far. Though impressed, I had no plans to shop or spend  as I didn’t need anything. I changed my mind when I examined the magnificent comforters, pillows, and other bedding. I’m sorry now I purchased only one silk pillow and a light density silk comforter. I’m puzzled I carried less money than usual when I needed it. My friend, Sue, was flush and I borrowed the difference I needed. I also picked my wallet clean down to the lint hidden there. (Yuan and Canadian money, totaling about $150 CAD). Who knew? The price was more than reasonable. Checking prices on the internet since then, I believe I did well. I’d been planning to buy new pillows in the spring anyway never dreaming I might bring home a silk one from China.

Business was brisk. No previous factory tour had ignited this much interest. One tour group at a time was welcomed in a separate room from the sales area. Once money changed hands, the purchased goods were bundled in a compact cloth and zippered bag with handles. These were black-marked with the buyer’s name. deposited on the floor of the entry room and covered half the floor space. You picked out your parcel upon departure.

Some advantages of silk fiber bedding:

  • Silk bedding is better than down
  • Half the weight of down
  • Bedbugs prefer down, not silk
  • Dust mites don’t like it
  • Mildew resistant
  • Strongest natural fiber
  • Keeps its shape / doesn’t clump
  • Fire resistant
  • hypoallergenic
  • You won’t sweat on it
  • It forms to your shape / stays springy
  • Lasts for years with proper care

Silk and Comforter Making:

The Life of a silkworm:

Lunch was at (Haioufang) The Seagull Palace Restaurant. Our group arrived too early. Seated at a table. we had to wait for the food. When it arrived, it was at once and the restaurant filled up and was soon packed.

Lunch:

Drinks as always: one glass of water, coke, sprite, or beer.

Appetizers:

  • Sausage slices (not sure about meat source)
  • Tomato slices
  • Spicy edamame beans
  • Something fish dish
  • Cubed cucumbers and sliced lotus root (crunchy, mild flavor and enjoyable)

Main:

  • Tea
  • Eggplant
  • Egg drop soup
  • Rice with eggs, beef
  • Spring rolls
  • Carrots, onions, and potatoes (stew?)
  • Panko breaded mild white fish
  • Fried and breaded lotus root
  • Cubed chicken
  • Potato and pineapple in sweet tomato sauce
  • Salad
  • French Fries
  • Watermelon slices for dessert

~ * ~

Chinese Saying:
Lazy child who lives at home and lives off his parents instead of working 
is called, 'China Little Emperor.'

~ * ~

Next On June 22, Shanghai, Part 5 – Shopping on Nanjing Road and Stories

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.

~ *~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. Hope to return soon. 
Thank you for reading and for your kind and continued support.


Shanghai, Part 3 – The Old Bazaar and More

 

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Chinese Saying

Keep your belongings in front of you. What’s in front belongs to you; what’s behind, belongs to someone else.

~ * ~

Whenever we left or entered the bus, our tour guide gave a reminder to check our personal belongings. At first, I felt we were being treated like children but soon realized how easy it is to become engrossed while surrounded by the distractions of China.

Old Shanghai Bazaar

What luck! Once again, we were given time to explore on our own. After the splendor of the financial district (The Bund), some in our group discovered another world a short distance away.  These are the real people we had little occasion to see. I thank RJ for sharing these wonderful pictures.

More day-to-day scenes:

The Ritzier Bazaar 

While a few explored the vibrant open market, others followed Jackie, our tour guide, to a more upscale sector where anything from floral teas to pearls; jade to cameras; clothes to emporiums and brand name, and best-quality knock-offs were secreted. One daring couple opted to check out the underground market. I had no interest in shopping but decided to tag along for the adventure. Led through masses of humanity, avoiding elbows and bodies, we entered an alley, made a turn and afollowed a short path to a nondescript door. Jackie must have knocked to gain entry, but I don’t recall. Before leaving, he expalined our route back to the group’s meeting place. Poof. I blinked and he vanished.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

We entered, were sized up, and drilled asked what was needed. I experienced a thrill of excitement and a chill of forebody. No one knew where we’d gone.

The room small and windowless, shelves on three walls displayed elegant purses, luggage, watches etc. Like a wolf waiting to pounce, the attendant pushed merchandise on the couple. A second man watched the proceedings. Nothing suited. How about this? Maybe you’d like that… The room shrank and grew smothering. Eyes to the door, my nerves hummed. Escape wasn’t easy. Like it or not, we were in for a hard sell. Special for you, I have … How about a fine watch. Ernesto bought a piece of luggage instead. Avid shoppers, he and his wife already needed another bag for their China purchases. We were free at last. Ernesto, husband of the well-travelled couple I’d shadowed, wasn’t impressed. “Might as well buy a real Rolex for the price they want.”

We hadn’t advanced further than a few paces when a young woman materialized from behind, promising another place, a better deal. She wouldn’t take no for an answer. We kept moving. The whole business became uncomfortable. Seeing us a waste of time, she took the hint, and melted into the crowd.

As everywhere else, knock-offs are illegal in China. If you are caught, off to the police station you go. Your tour group continues as scheduled and you have to find your way back to them on your own dime. Of course, you don’t get to keep your loot either.

Dinner Sunday night  

  • Tomato soup with egg
  • Rice with egg
  • Lightly breaded white fish
  • Mixed vegetables
  • Greens
  • Eggplant in a sauce
  • Beef in sauce
  • Sliced curry potatoes
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Sweet and sour chicken
  • Watermelon slices

Shanghai Quick Facts:

  • Home of the (open air) Bird’s Nest, capacity 80,000
  • Popular sports: ping pong, table tennis, basketball and soccer
  • World Financial Center, 2nd tallest in the world
  • Houses used to cost $1,000 / square foot; now up to $5,000 / square foot
  • Kindergarten parents pay about $1,000 per month
  • School free grades 1 to 9
  • Live-in maid service pays $1,000 per month
  • Twice-a-week service pays $10. per hour

~ * ~

Next on June 16, Shanghai, Part 4 – Silk Factory and More

 

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. Hope to return soon. 
Thank you for reading and for your kind and continued support.



Shanghai, Part 2 – The Bund and Huangpu River

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Away from the stalking (however polite) salespeople at the embroidery shop, we headed to a different lunch experience. The atmosphere had a cafeteria look and feel and the tables were communal and banquet-hall length.  The following links show better than I can tell.

 Mongolian BBQ:

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/105702458

 Preparation of BBQ:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongolian_barbecue

Lunch finished, I visited the Ladies’ Room. Again the men’s and ladies’ washrooms were opposite each other. I recognized the door I wanted by a high-heeled shoe decorating it and the Men’s by a black smoking pipe. When I prepared to wash my hands later, I found myself at the sink between two Chinese men. Putting my hands beneath the tap, I expected it to turn itself on. Nothing. The man on my right snatched my hands into a firm but gentle clasp and placed them opposite the sensor’s eye. Afterward, my ever helpful minder noticed my indecision regarding the exit and with a gentle nudge, pointed me towards the nearest one. I imagined him shaking his head thinking I was a silly westerner.  

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (Our cruise ship)

After lunch we headed to The Bund, the financial district with the famous Shanghai World Financial Center (shaped like a bottle opener), and many other unique and grandiose structures. Jackie, our guide, purchased tickets for our afternoon cruise on the Huangpu River, which divides Shanghai in half and is about 70 miles long. We cruised among barges transporting sand, coal and lumber among others for a good hour or so.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

It was Sunday and a long weekend (Tomb Sweeping Festival). The walkways and pedestrian areas were full of visitors. I understand during any good weather, The Bund is a popular place to spend the day with friends.

Click for stunning images of The Bund, The Huangpu River, and Nanpu Bridge

Sue didn’t want to sit outside on the top deck because she thought it would be too cool and windy. I followed her inside to the main floor and we were surprised to be alone. We grabbed a table in a snack area marked V.I.P. Ever observant, we then noticed a doorway leading to the cruise ship’s bow, enclosed with wraparound windows. We couldn’t believe our luck. No-one to bother us, cushy chairs and our own private ship. Within seconds an attendant came in and we were forced out and ended up outside anyway. To the untrained eye I suppose we didn’t have that V.I.P. aura.

IMG_0489

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Sue didn’t want to sit outside on the top deck because she thought it would be too cool and windy. I followed her inside to the main floor and we were surprised to be alone. We grabbed a table in a snack area marked V.I.P. Ever observant, we then noticed a doorway leading to the cruise ship’s bow, enclosed with wraparound windows. We couldn’t believe our luck. No-one to bother us, cushy chairs and our own private ship. Within seconds an attendant came in and we were forced out and ended up outside anyway. To the untrained eye I suppose we didn’t have that V.I.P. aura. Insert Image #486, 487, 489, 498, (The Bund, the cruise, moi and our cruise ship) © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Shanghai Quick Facts:

  • Population 23 million
  • City is 6,800 square kilometers
  • Communist party began here in 1921
  • Home of silk
  • Beginning of silk road (trade: tea, pearls, jade)
  • During Hun dynasty, you could find a good horse here, an Arabian
  • 14 subway lines, over 500 kilometers long

~ * ~

Next on June 9, Shanghai, Part 3 – Old Bazaar and Other Shopping

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.