How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE


Beijing Part 10: The Hutong and a Rickshaw Tour

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

After the disappointment of Olympic Park, the day became more interesting. We visited The Hutong, once the old walled city. The buildings were ancient, many were decrepit. We drove through the shopping district but did not stop. As the bus meandered through the old town’s narrow streets, we learned a new subway station is planned for the area; buildings are being torn down and replaced. Renewal is everywhere.

Our first stop: a rickshaw ride.

That's a lot of rickshaws. This is still a popular draw in the Hutong.

                          That’s a lot of rickshaws. This is still a popular draw in the Hutong.

I had been worried about runners pulling us in traffic, as in cars. I suppose I’ve seen too many movies. Ricksaws had progressed to pedal power.

Sue and I not sure what to make of this. We're not exactly featherweights.

                Sue and I not sure what to make of this. We’re not exactly featherweights.

The roads are bricked and narrow. Other customers other than our Group 8 had come for a ride.

Someone else enjoying a ride. It's a wonderful day for it.

                                     Someone else enjoying a ride. It’s a wonderful day for it.

The alleys were full of contrasts: falling buildings and new cars  You wouldn’t believe the electrical boxes and the plugs inserted in them helter-skelter.

An artist's work on display

An artist’s work on display

We all know alleys are a playground for wandering, stray cats.  I saw none, nor any dog either.

Restaurant tables and chairs. Too simple. Let's bring all of the inside out.

Restaurant tables and chairs outside. Simple. Let’s bring the inside out.

Sue and I whispered behind the driver’s back how guilty we felt having this not-so-young man peddling for all he was worth. We had been instructed to tip him, but no more than $2.00 USD.

The driver wasn't young but he must have been in good shape for all that heavy peddling.

The driver wasn’t young but he must have been in good shape for all that heavy peddling.

 Our driver,  a warm and generous guy, was happy to have a picture with Sue and me.

We weren't sure if he understood anything we said to him but he gave off happy vibes.

We weren’t sure if he understood anything we said to him but he gave off happy vibes. That’s the man-made lake in the background. How many people and how long did that take?

The things people throw out. I didn’t see anything wrong with the girl’s two wheeler, but I also didn’t jump out of the rickshaw to inspect it.

Looks like home. All ready for garbage pickup.

Looks like home. All ready for garbage pickup.

I cannot recall if this is a restaurant or a temple.

Not a great photo because of the narrow street and my amateur photography.

Not a great photo because of the narrow street and my amateur photography.

A video you might enjoy on more hutong background  (29.05 min).

 

Next on March 24, Beijing Part 10: A Special Peking Duck Dinner

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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


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Beijing Part 9: Olympic Park

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

The Olympic Park

The Olympic grounds had been built on razed farmland. We were told all the displaced farmers had been given jobs and a better apartment than the farmhouses they’d lived in. Everyone’s happy; a win-win.

To get to the entrance of the Park, a busy four-lane highway had to be negotiated by foot. The bus had been parked on the other side. Although busy, the hazards of crossing presented less chance of being run over than in the midst of the city if you timed your jaunt.

At long last, we were free to wander the grounds. I found our time there boring, however. The sun smirked overhead. Paved walkways, expansive stone-tiled, and bricked thoroughfare stretched miles ahead, too bright and stripped of any shade. Thank goodness for hats and sunglasses. It felt a clear day and I noticed no smog to date.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtjogMtnrjw  (published Feb. 2014, 2.53 min)

or

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12e3c6mAzfQ  (published May 2014, 9.45 min)

Notice the tents with trinkets for visitors. In the background is the 25-story IBM building (in the shape of Olympic torch)

Notice the tents with trinkets for visitors. In the background is the 25-story IBM building (in the shape of Olympic torch)

 I recall hawkers in the open and sellers of tourist knick-knacks in stall, after stall, after stall, along one side of the center road. These were actually white tents four or five feet wide with a flap raised on some as a sunshade. At intervals, empty stretches separated one cluster from another. The disappointment lay in discovering they all carried the same products! Every one.

One of the last ones, a larger tent, provided a digital photo opportunity for a mock emperor and concubine, or possibly his queen. Ernesto and Lorena, known for their carefree style, donned the costumes provided and had their royal photo taken. One size fit all as the ‘costumes’ tied in the back like hospital gowns.

Another frustration: no open exhibits.

As we left the Park, the ladies inquired about washrooms. Somebody spied one and pointed. “No, you won’t like that one,” Robert said. “See there? That’s a good one.” We’d heard a similar declaration several times now. I wondered in what way it might be different and not to our liking.

The Birds Nest National Statdium

                                                         The Birds Nest National Stadium

No matter what was served at any of our meals, I would never starve. It struck me, though, lunch and dinner dishes were quite similar, with lots of repeats. Time will tell.

Lunch was served at a restaurant not far from Olympic Village. From where we sat, I saw back-to-back orange hoods / like half pods or huge footballers’ helmets and wondered what they were. Phone booths. Say what? Two by two they appeared on the sidewalk, back to back, closer than girlfriends. Migrants and low-income workers use these Public Phone Booths.

Notice the water glasses, which vary in size from restaurant to restaurant

             Notice the water glasses, which vary in size from restaurant to restaurant. 

Lunch:

  • White rice
  • Tea (always hot and ready)
  • Pork meatballs
  • Chicken with cabbage and carrots
  • Kung Pow chicken
  • Rice (with duck meat)
  • Deep fried pork
  • Cucumbers with chicken
  • Deep fried battered fish
  • Egg drop soup
  • Sliced watermelon for dessert

Some Quick Facts about Telephones:

  • Everyone has a cell phone, sometimes two
  • Use text message vs. phone because it’s cheaper
  • Use’ You Chat’ a lot
  • Two providers: China Mobile and China Unicom
  • Phone fee 200 Yuan per month or $40

Housing:

  • Apartment rent 2 bedrooms: $1,000 per month (all USD)
  • Condo rent good location: $1,600 per month (depending on that location)
  • Condos, 2-bedroom, 1,000 square meters, 1 toilet
  • Condos cost $6,000 per square meter
  • 1,000 metres = $600,000 per condo
  • A house and garage, minimum price 30,000,000 Yuan or FIVE million U.S. dollars

Up Next on March 17: Beijing Part 10: The Hutong

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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


67 Comments

#BlogBattle 4 – Prompt: Iridescent

Find the Rules at Rachael Ritchie’s blog: http://wp.me/p7rsge-cB

Genre:  Fairy Tale

Prompt:  Iridescent

Words: 990

Oliver Goldglimmer

Flapping knobby hands, she coughed and sputtered. The air cleared of sooty smoke, Olive Goldglimmer blinked at her surroundings. “Oh, that hurts.” She rubbed her tender tailbone. “Might I not have a soft landing once in a while?” A vigorous chorus of robins overhead drowned out her words. “I’m talking to myself again, aren’t I?”

Olive studied the multi-hued flowers above her. “So sorry. I didn’t mean to crash into you, pretties.” Feet straight out in front of her, she slumped over her knees to relieve pressure from her battered vertebrae. “Where the heck am I? I’ve never been here before.” Rubbing a cheek, she further smeared her soot-sprinkled face. “Have I?”

A fleeting thought occurred to her. Finger pointed in the air to hook it, her eyes bugged out at the sight of the string tied there. “What’s that for? Let’s see, I-I-I… Can’t remember. Can’t do spells. Can’t fly… Might as well die.”

“Divine colors, these flowers.” Fingers reached upward to stroke the velvet stalks and feathery softness within her reach. My home is in grazing fields filled with red clover, yellow buttercups, and lush grass for those big animals—cows, I think. Sorry, I’ve squashed a few of you. I better get off, hadn’t I? Dear, dear.”

flowers-1641322__340-pixabay

Olive rolled her squat six-inch body from one side to the other, pushing off with an elbow. “I did not forget how to stand. Been doing it all my life, haven’t I? Come on-n. I can do this. Come on-n.” The rolling motion found her face in the dirt. She giggled. Her knees knew what to do. A push with her hands and she tripped over her long, shimmering gown. “Dear, dear. The young fairies have the right idea with their short skirts. Not appropriate on someone of my age.” Erect at last, she swayed to steady her balance. Her gray-streaked hair, once cranberry, had fallen out of its pins. Tiny fingers hastened to secure it back together and out of her face. “I must look a sight. Still talking to myself. Well, so what.”

“Sorry flowers. I didn’t mean to crush you.” Lined face softened, she blew a kiss, one foot already poised to toddle through the forest of blossoms. Home. What if I’m lost for good this time? A flicker of brilliance in the crushed greenery attracted her attention. “Oh, dear. Oh, dear. My pouch of found and rescued treasures.” She flushed with guilt and pleasure, the pouch clutched to her ample bosom.

“I remember—I cast a spell… What was it? I had it… Oh, dear. Oh, dear.” Oh, for Petey dragon, never mind. It’ll be a long walk home.”

Olive trudged and trudged. The sun slid toward the bruised horizon like a raw yoke on a fingerprinted wall. The temperature cooled. Birds chirped less, weary from their daylong concert. Floral smells scented the air. Olive pushed on in a never-ending field with not a creature in sight.

Someone or something whistled, drawing to her. The sound pierced her ears. A teenage boy, she guessed, in torn pants and a faded plaid shirt, repositioned his straw hat. A blade of grass in his corner of his mouth, he looked neither left nor right.

She flew into his face and tumbled earthward. “Yoo-hoo. Ouch.”

He brushed at his face as if flicking off a fly.

“Hey, you. You, Tom Sawyer person, you. Stop!” Olive skipped behind him to catch up. That’s when it hit her. “He can’t see me.” In desperation, she grasped a pant leg and hung on. Swish-toss. Slam. When had he stopped?

He growled, combing his surroundings. “Who’s there? Where are you?”

“Down here. They call me Olive. I’m lost.” Olive pulled with all her strength till she found his shirt pocket.

“I don’t know what or where you are but get away from me.” He switched the stalk of grass to the other side of his mouth and tramped on. Dusk drifted downwards like a gray fog, stealing the little light left. The moon rose cheesy yellow, face in a smirk as if It had heard a bad joke. A stone’s throw away, a dark shack surfaced out of the ground.

Olive sensed rather than saw her aura light up a hair-thin stroke at a time. It must be the last day of harvest because this happened the same time last year. Her heart swelled with dizzy exhilaration, knees weak and bendy. All her magic had not vanished—not yet—though her ability had lessened. She had not minded ageing, nor the forgetfulness, nor the loss of vitality—well, a little. Losing her spark, her zest for life had caused sadness, yet she understood the map of life.

colorful-1325269_960_720-pixabay

She shook off her reverie. The boy approached the cabin. In her excitement, Olive fell out, arms waving, wings fluttering. Up. Down. She floated. “Wait, wait.”

Hand on the doorknob, the boy dropped his chin, paused, and turned to the darkness fully arrived. A crazed yell tore out of his throat. He yanked open the door and slammed inside. Up-down, Olive floated, a streak of vacillating glow like a light posse.

The door squeaked open. A rifle barrel preceeded the boy. “Stop. What are you?”

Olive reared up and flew into his face. “Don’t shoot. Let me explain.”

* * *

The boy had listened and nodded.

“I live in a place called Aurora. Will you help find it?”

“My pleasure. I know my way around a fairy tale or two. Name’s Tom Sawyer. Pleased to meet you, Olive Goldglimmer.

Maybe for the last time, Olive’s wings opened iridescent and supple as in the days of her youth.

“Come inside. Can’t do anything tonight. Hungry?

“I could eat. Have you nuts or berries?”

“A real fairy. Shoot. Never heard of any your age. Know something? You remind me of my grandma—the one my author wouldn’t give me. Everybody has one, don’t they? Even me.”

The End

© 2017 Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles

Images courtesy of Pixabay


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Bejing at Last (Part 2)

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Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

At last, we arrived at the hotel and were given an hour to freshen up before the welcoming dinner in the hotel dining room. Would I stay awake that long?


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The hotel is classified 5-Star and this is the lobby. Although splendid and attention-grabbing, it was not spectacular.

Table number 4, awaited, set for eight and covered with a red tablecloth. A yard-wide-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 dribble while eating. Fallen food could s-l-i-d-e down the napkin and into your lap, but not onto the floor. What do you do with the resulting ‘leftovers’? Mash them into the napkin?

Recreation of place setting

Re-creation of place setting

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 boo boo. This goes to show how different our east/west worlds still are, and will in all probability never change, or I might be wrong. I giggled into my hand and figured the men might as well enjoy the attention. We females rolled our eyes. It’s possible no one even noticed we did except us.

Once everyone’s serviettes had been organized, the subject of drinks came up. Choices of beverages 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. Substitutes for soft drinks and/or beer instead of water were unfathomable to staff; no swapping and no flexibility. Our guide, Robert, offered to go to the store to buy more but the hotel staff wouldn’t allow that either. (More on drinks later).

We were called the English Group 8. Another group followed us some time later, a full busload called the French Group from Quebec and area. 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 found, and no corn flavor)
  • Sweet and sour pork (most familiar taste)
  • Cauliflower
  • Fried rice with peas
  • Beef slices
  • Pork, thick slices of boiled bacon (boiled fat, ugh)
  • For dessert: raw pumpkin slices (unflavored, not well-liked) and dates

Dinner over, neither Sue nor I recalled what time we called it a night. I imagine we collapsed into bed soon afterward, 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 under threat of pain or suffering.

Take a gander at this, our bathroom with a peekaboo wall. What? Why?

IMG_0201

IMG_0200

You’re going to scratch your head and we did as well. After finding this oddity, no-one we asked gave a straight answer. Not even our tour guide. He mumbled something about watching television from the bath. An expensive glass wall to enjoy TV if you ask me. A Venetian blind hangs in place to open or close. Here the bottom half has been turned down for privacy. Check out these links for comments:

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/asia-north-east-asia/topics/hotel-bathrooms-in-china

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/05/travel/05headsup.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

 

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 On January 27th: Beijing (Part 3): First Tour Day

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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


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Beijing at Last!

Rapid transit arrived inside the terminal every three minutes.

Rapid transit

Rapid transit

Directed by Robert, our arrival coincided almost to the minute with the train’s appearance. Luggage dragging people that we were, we rushed on and were transported to the parking lot where our mini tour bus awaited. (I have no recollection of exiting the train or getting on the bus.)

We zipped down the highway surrounded by young trees already dressed in delicate greenery. By comparison, Ontario was still in the throes of winter on this March 29th, but I squashed the thought as I gawked in awe. The highways were clean and neat with row on row of countless new tree plantings. To my limited gardening knowledge they were two to three-year-old saplings. I seem to recall some weeping willows (or not).

The Chinese writing is overwhelming

The Chinese writing is overwhelming

It must have been at least a good half-hour or so before the city limits loomed ahead, although. I hadn’t paid much attention to the time. What caught my eye immediately were countless gray apartment buildings: cement shells, without an outside finish; empty openings instead of window-filled; forlorn and abandoned-looking construction sites. There is a reason for this our guide, Robert, told us when I asked him.

“This is an excellent opportunity for the buyer,” he said. “He can choose the cost and type of windows, doors, cupboards, flooring walls etc. he is willing to pay. In addition to hiring a sub-contractor to finish the interior of this carcass, the owner is responsible for hooking into the main water and electrical system.

Unfinished apartment buildings

Unfinished apartment buildings

“But why are so many unoccupied. How long have they been empty?” I asked.

“More and more people are moving into the cities every day. They haven’t come here yet.”

“Who builds these things? Where does the money come from?”

“Sometimes the companies run out of money, it’s true, and must wait till they find new resources.”

Our bus progressed through streets crammed with buses and cars and masses of people. I watched young and old city-dwellers ride bicycles in terrifying traffic, sometimes with loads of cardboard or wood tied in a pile behind them. I saw no helmets and an assortment of non-practical shoes. I noticed a number of girls riding mopeds with waist clutching male passengers. Really? Does this mean more girls own the motorbikes?

Another interesting sight: tuk tuks, which looked like someone had wrapped a sheet of tin around a motor bike for a car-like body with a roof. Actually, these vehicles were not run by pedal power after all from what I could make out. I still have no idea what they were / are.

Newer, old and knocked down buildings stand side by side. As we moved through neighborhood to neighborhood, Robert informed us a lot of the old city was being torn down to make way for the new. During the long drive to the hotel we viewed rubble from many such scrap heaps awaiting removal.

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I noticed a certain rhythm to the traffic. Each time we came to a stop light, our bus driver, pulled the hand brake. Why? We were on a level road not on any incline or stopped midway downhill. All the drivers around us honked horns all the time and after a while I became aware of something else. This was their way of letting the other drivers know, ‘I’m coming through.’ The drivers weren’t angry nor irate. No screeched brakes shrieked. Bikes and buses seemed to play a game of chicken. Three or four lanes appeared to accommodate five or six lanes of traffic. I covered my eyes. Buses and cars dodged in, out around us, but not one transport truck was in sight.

Some quick and interesting facts:

  • Beijing is the same latitude as New York City
  • Beijing is the capital of Peoples’ Republic of China
  • It is the third largest city in China
  • China is shaped like a rooster. Beijing is located at the neck of the rooster and is known for fresh water pearls
  • 20 million people / 5 million cars
  • Since the Olympics, 3 million more cars on the road = work = wages = cars)
  • Odd / even license plate policy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Road_space_rationing_in_Beijing
  • First car market here was the German Volkswagen
  • The second was Buick from the U.S.

~ * ~

Any mistakes are my own. I admit my attention span and hearing are not always on alert. These few facts I jotted down as I thought I’d heard them.

~ * ~

More about tuk tuks (three-wheeled transportation)

 

Next on January 20: Beijing at Last (Part 2)

©Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles 2017

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


71 Comments

Are We There Yet?

The Flight

I had no preconceived notions regarding the long trip ahead. The Malaysian disappearance, still fresh in the news, I refused to ponder the distance, time, or mystery of sufficient fuel to complete such a long flight. No point in dwelling on what I couldn’t control. I refused to mull over anything—numerous times. Had I allowed my apprehension to take hold, I might have never taken the wild limo ride to the airport.

We boarded a United Airlines Boeing 777 (I think), Flight 851, non-stop as in direct to Beijing. My seat: 41E in Economy (center aisle, middle seat). Sue asleep, I begged the guy on my right to allow exit for a bathroom break and for strolling to keep my blood moving. When both he and Sue snoozed, I climbed over Sue. I watched three or four complete movies (whose titles escape me), began others but lost interest, and read to pass the time. I could not sleep. I’m the type that needs to stay awake to make sure everything is copasetic. The sandman peppered grit into my eyes. Eye drops helped but. not enough.

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We had two babies or pre-toddlers who fussed little for which I am grateful. How the mothers managed is beyond me. The couple in the seats on Sue’s aisle side was difficult to ignore. By their appearance and attire, we guessed they were Amish or Mennonite. One seat was empty, which afforded the wife to lie across the seats her head in her husband’s lap. She had the nastiest head cold and coughed and sneezed the whole way. It’s a wonder her ears weren’t plugged for how could she fly?

Smushed in the middle seat, I juggled my purse, the offered pillow and blanket, a light jacket (it got cold off and on), my book and/or my iPad, I had little room to manoeuvre. Arms tucked in close to my body, I realized why sardines don’t have elbows either. I’d worn full body compression wear beneath my yoga pants and top as a precaution again swelling. My feet sweat in my running shoes, though. Had I been born double-jointed, it might have been easier to untie them.

Microsoft Clipart

Microsoft Clipart

As the engines roared, I crammed the pictures and stories from the movies into every corner of my brain to restrict anxious thoughts. The fellow on my right watched our flight progress on the screen instead of movies. I noticed our flight path headed upwards to Alaska instead of due east and assumed we were lost. My seatmate noticed my near-panic and explained, but what I heard was garbled. My brain refused to process the information. I believe he said something about gulf-stream.

We’d eaten three meals and downed countless glasses of water. An hour or two before Beijing, I speculated the water tank (rain barrel?) must have ran low for the water tasted swampy. I cut myself off. It stuck in my throat. Yuck.

Thirteen hours and 35 minutes elapsed. Beijing airport materialized at last and our imminent descent announced. All window shades were thrown up with enthusiasm but no-one clapped on landing. I wanted to applaud and then kiss the ground. The time difference threw me. I hadn’t expected daylight although I knew we were to land at 3:40 p.m.

Has our luggage made it from Toronto?

Has our luggage made it from Toronto?

We deplaned with the couple we’d met in Chicago, Russ and Bonnie from Wasaga Beach. Russ, who had memorized the layout of the humongous airport, helped us find the baggage claim. Shortly afterward, we met Jim and Carolyn from Ottawa. Our tour guide, Robert,  holding a sign: English 8, awaited us. Ernesto and Lorena from Mexico arrived a half-hour later. Sue and I made eight. By 4:30, we headed to our hotel by tour bus.

I hadn’t slept a wink. Hours without sleep: 44

* * *

Next on  January 13th: Beijing at Last

©Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles 2017

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


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25 Ways to Kill Time at Chicago Airport

I thought I’d revisit the China posts. Some of you haven’t seen them. Enjoy.

Warning: This is longer than my usual posts. Also Note: Newbie person traveling. Some of this may be old hat to you.

We didn’t need to worry about our luggage as it flew ahead direct from Toronto to Beijing. What a blessing, yet this causes me discomfort not knowing exactly where it might be. A whole string of what ifs torment me anyway. The most nagging: what if my luggage goes to the wrong destination? Pul-eese. It’ll be fine. I’d packed two changes of clothing in my carry-on thanks to advice from my blogging friends.

It turns out we’re a long way from the main building and a shuttle arrives as we land in Chicago. We jumped aboard in a fine spring mist, hoping for delivery to the correct terminal. We then jogged in the now drizzle to the entrance. First stop a washroom.

What is this? I feel like a country mouse. The toilet had unusual self-sanitizing seats. Think ultra-soft (memory foam). This video shows better than I can explain:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cokBht49qt8

Only five hours and 45 minutes to kill.

Now, what? We saw Starbucks and MacDonalds; a kind of deli; various health food shops; tons of neck pillows and sunglasses;  books and magazines, and a bar or two. Maybe we should have considered sampling our way through the food shops to keep busy.

25 Ways to Kill Time in the Chicago Airport:

  1. Walk, limp, stumble. keep moving.
  2. Learn to avoid lineups around boarding and arrivals gates on both sides of the building.
  3. Dodge weary travelers more concerned about their wheelies than who’s in front or behind them.
  4. Gape at the zillions of people (I don’t get out enough), from all parts of the world, who arrive and depart in giant waves like schools of fish—big ones— with luggage
  5. Close your mouth time and again and do your best not to stick out as if you’d just left the cabbage patch. Isn’t the world a big and confusing place?
  6. Make a deposit at each washroom you wander past. When the opportunity presents itself, you might as well grab it. Best keep your tank empty.
  7. Hang around the unusual new-fangled toilets. What will they think of next? (refer to Youtube video). I wondered how often the plastic covers were replaced and asked an attendant, but she didn’t know either.
  8. Stand in long lines to buy food/water even though not hungry
  9. Fight the crowd to buy coffee.
  10. Search for an empty table to rest aching feet. Why were all the tables occupied? Pull out my now soggy pizza out of your carry-on.
    At Chicago O'Hare Airport killing time

    At Chicago O’Hare Airport killing time


  11. Take pictures of a plane through a restaurant window, not exactly proof you’re in Chicago but what the heck.
  12. After tiring yourself out walking around the gargantuan airport, sit and try to read or people watch.
  13. Comb the gift shops for a Chicago fridge magnets but don’t buy one. They were too expensive at $5.99 each (U.S. dollars of course) and tiny—the width of two of today’s postage stamps.
  14. Check the screen for your gate early. Why is the waiting area full already. Lucky to find a seat each.
  15. Count tall people / short people. If they keep shifting up and down. start over and give up.
  16. Survey couples in boarding area to guess which ones might be going to Beijing. (Sue spied a couple from our Toronto flight).
  17.  Without hesitation, strike up a conversation and ask if they are on your tour.  knows how to peg them. They are going our way.
  18. Stare at the time in two-minute intervals, which doesn’t move it any faster. One hour and 25 minutes to boarding.
  19. Notice a planeload of pilots attached to wheelie carry-ons, who mill about purchasing food. Have you seen so many at once? Why are they hungry? Are they arrivals or departures?
  20. Gawk and wonder how all these pilots happen to be so good looking, but much more important, fret if they are indeed old enough for the job? Most look around fifteen.

    Someone's tired of waiting and waiting and waiting

    Someone’s tired of waiting and waiting and waiting

  21. Shift and re-shift from one numb butt cheek to the other and blink faster than a turn signal to stay awake. Eyes too dry to read? You wuss. You’ve only been awake 29 hours. Fifteen and a little bit to go.
  22. Evade running and screaming children
  23. Stew over whose toddler is wandering around alone. Not your responsibility, but where are the parents? You want to know, don’t you? Where ARE they? No one’s paying attention to the little guy. Nobody.
  24. Line up as directed with visa and boarding pass to get the visa to China stamped. This takes five minutes. One hour and 15 minutes to go
  25. Spy a female pilot. Wow! She looks about 40, old enough and experienced compared to the fifteen-year-old male pilots. You could trust her but where’s her crew?

The clock clicks one mouse whisker at a time. Time’s up. Boarding is announced by a distorted male voice. Not unlike unconscious sleepwalkers, you funnel into lines and shuffle forward, necessary papers clutched and eyes begging for toothpicks.

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Next on December 23rd – A Pause for Thanks and Christmas

©Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles.

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Penelakut to Thetis Island

An announcement reminded foot passengers to leave the ferry first when we docked because the ferry could not dock at the exact entry due to high tide (global warming). Then vehicle passengers were announced. A city bus awaited within walking distance to transport passengers to their jobs or other destinations. Instead of a streetcar, subway, train or their own car, people actually traveled this way every day. What a way to get to work and back. I wouldn’t want to do it every day.

Mary took the elevator since we were on the second floor. Jean and I raced down the stairs and waited for the elevator door to open. A couple girls pushed the button on the deck level. Nothing. Did this mean the elevator was stuck? We waited and waited. Michael scooted to the first level looking for her. The vehicles hadn’t begun moving off yet so we had a little time. It turns out Mary hadn’t been clear which level to get off. We had a good laugh, but the important thing was we were in the van and ready to move when our turn came to exit the ferry.

No time for sightseeing. We did last minute grocery shopping in Nanaimo before stopping in Chemainus for ice cream on our way to Penelakut Island and our second ferry to Thetis Island, our destination. We waited about 20 minutes—not a long line—hoping we’d make the cut and not have to wait for another one. This time the ferry was smaller and open. The deck wasn’t full even behind us. We’d started out at 6:10 a.m. and finally arrived at our lodgings for a late lunch. A long day already.

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I had no concept how large Thetis was but it didn’t feel like an island. We passed a fenced off Bible School and a cattle farm. The houses painted in lilac, green, and butter yellow had neat and pretty yards. Around bends and curves, we wound, the muddy gravel road neither straight nor boring.

Michael, Jean’s husband, entered Overberry Resort first to register our arrival at the office and pic up a key. This is the entrance.

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The building is divided into thirds. Our side offered three bedrooms, a kitchen and a bath (our lodgings). The entrance way and foyer were in the middle, and the owners lived in the last third.

We had a quick lunch of assorted cheeses, crackers, pate and squash soup Jean had brought from home. Scrumptious. Afterwards, a nap seemed in order, but Jean realized the late hour and called out she and Michael had to go to the Community Center to setup for the meet-and-greet later in the evening. Whoever was available would come from the Center to pick us up for dinner.

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By 5:00 p.m. it was pitch black outside, but I spied a hydro pole as the light came on at the top of the driveway.

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Here are older Images for overbury Resort. Much reconstruction and renovations have occurred to present day.

Next on November 18th – New Year’s Eve Day and Evening

© 2016 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

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An Abbreviated Vancouver Adventure

Last December, sister Mary and I flew to Vancouver for sister Jean’s 60th birthday. The direct flight took four hours and forty minutes. The snack and refreshment cart rattled down the narrow isle after the first class passengers had been served—just three or four rows behind the cockpit ending the seat before us. No curtain of separation divided first class and the rest of the passengers. We ordered coffee. I received mine first and made a face. Mary noticed and tugged on the airline steward’s sleeve to change her order to mint tea.

“No, you cannot,” he said. “You’ve already had a turn.”

Of course, we thought him serious and therefore rude, until he grinned and giggled, laughter reaching his eyes. He was a rosy-cheeked, round fellow, with a belly which hung over his belt. The tousled-hair blonde female flight attendant was a larger woman than hired in years gone by. How refreshing life is becoming more realistic these days.

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I cannot believe I passed up a free, like-new book left on a brown refuse box inside the airport. My fingers itched for the thick Nora Roberts hardcover novel, but I was already weighed down enough.

After experiencing the Camino-like trek through Toronto airport, we loved Vancouver’s. The baggage claim located close to ground transportation, Jean and her husband met us as soon as Mary texted our arrival. The first rain clouds in a month hung mean and leaden, keen to greet us. This was to be a family get-together with no time for sightseeing.

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Jean served a lovely snack at the house and later a late supper. The time to catch up turned to night. Weary from travel and excitement of seeing family again, we fell into bed midnight Vancouver time (9:00 p.m. in Ontario). The next morning, Mary and I slept in as Jean slipped out to a Yoga class and Michael dawdled in the kitchen assembling breakfast.

A day of eating, drinking, and talking till we were hoarse (necessitating more drinking) followed. After supper, Michael prepared a cauldron of chili (maybe it was a large pot). I threw together a filling for Jean’s petit choux (like one-bite cream puffs): artichokes, softened sun-dried tomatoes, cream cheese, and feta into a food processor for a coarse blend. These were in preparation for the festivities New Year’s Eve.

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A day of accomplishing little, we finally called it a night around 11:30 p.m. I tossed and turned, bolting upright at a thunderous crack. I reacted by checking the shelves of books around us in the great room were intact. For a split second, I thought they’d exploded around us. The report sounded once and no more. My heart hammered on. Mary said it must be the wind.

http://bc.ctvnews.ca/overnight-quake-the-strongest-felt-in-14-years-on-b-c-s-south-coast-1.2717808

The household was awake at 6:10 a.m.—ten minutes later than planned—to catch the ferry to Nanaimo. Seniors get a discount but only if they are residents. Michael paid for the tickets. No one mentioned half of us were from Ontario.

The early morning proved knuckle bleeding and foot stomping cold. We ran across and down the road to use the facilities due to our early arrival. Hurry up and wait, but that’s the unwritten rule. If you want to get on, arrive as close to the front of the line as you can before space runs out on board for your car.

The mountains striking and the water calm, we enjoyed breakfast on board at around $10.00 each for eggs, home fries, toast, and choice of ham, sausages, or bacon. Our crossing across the Georgia Straits on the Coastal Renaissance transpired without incidence.

 

Next on November 11th – Penelakut to Thetis Islands

© 2016 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

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Tying up Loose Ends – Homeward Bound

During summer in St. John’s, you can catch a tour bus for $5.00, which stops at all the sites for an hour each. Schedules are available at hotels. What a steal. The opportunity was lost on us as the season had closed.

Tired after our stroll on Duckworth Street, we trudged uphill all the way to the hotel. The drizzle followed us, fading in and out. One moment we snapped our umbrellas shut and open the next. Once we arrived in our room, nothing mattered more than putting my feet up and grabbing my book. I apologized to the novel for awarding it second place. Mary had other ideas. She’d heard about the sauna and prepared to unwind there instead.

The afternoon drew to a close. We had  time to kill before our last dinner with the tour group and decided to check out the atrium. A tall ladder took prominence in one area for some kind of maintenance in progress. The rest unfolded for our pleasure to amble through and explore. It was a large area.

All good things must end. Thoughts of going home struck us with a mixture of regret and relief. For dinner, we had pre-ordered Newfoundland Screech Glazed Salmon and heart of Romaine Caesar. The women dolled up, but the men dressed in casual attire. Our numbers had dwindled over the last few days from thirty-two to about twenty-four. Two servers and a Maître d’ attended us in a private room. Francis wore a suit and brought his wife. I was impressed the tour owner’s warm, down-home speech. Francis became sentimental. Can’t help but love the guy.

Sneaked a photo in art store at the Sheraton

Sneaked a photo in art store at the Sheraton

The next morning after a posh breakfast (this is the Sheraton after all), Mary wanted one last run downtown before Francis dropped us at the airport at eleven. No rain in sight. The sun smiled and the sky glowed pastel blue, a smear of clouds here and there. Yes. Believe it or not. I took this through the hotel window. Trees obscured the view of the ship in the harbor but not the clear horizon.

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Nervous as a cat, I prowled the room waiting for Mary. We had 20 minutes until transfer to the airport with Francis and a few others of our group. Seven minutes to spare, Mary arrived. We collected our bags and as soon as we hit the lobby, found everyone already on the bus, their bags already loaded.

Mary had checked us in for the flight the night before. The machine took our information but refused to spit out our luggage tags and boarding passes. No one around to help, I ran to grab an attendant some distance away though St. John’s airport isn’t huge. A desk person helped but we noticed too late she’d only printed boarding passes to Halifax and not transfers from Halifax to home. We soon sorted this out upon landing. The airport huge and obviously international, we walked for miles and miles as. Mary searched for a fish store but they had no fresh lobster. Stomachs rumbling, we checked out places to eat and shared a late lunch of salad and maybe mussels—I can’t recall— but still paid almost $50. For lunch.

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Next up on November 4th – A Surprise

© 2016 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

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