How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


North to Alaska: Where’s the Easy Button?

A garbled voice announced boarding a half-hour later. Flying time expected: four hours and 28 minutes at 40,000 feet with a few bumps along the way. We had three flight attendants for our 113-seat Boeing 737.

Had I glanced back, I’d have been dumbfounded how few passengers followed. Heads bent forward and shoulders raised, Mary and I scuttled across the tarmac. The weather was cold, the sky overcast, and the air damp. The two-level approach to the plane was longer than the distance from the building to the bottom of the walkway.

                                                  Transporting a two-level boarding bridge on the left

Airlines overbook, don’t they? We noted many empty seats, only 37 occupied, which meant seventy-six stood empty. How often does this happen? “If there are only two people on board, we will still fly,” the flight attendant said to Mary’s inquiry. This airline must be making good money ‘cause they’re still in business. This brings to mind a news story of the opposite happening and a man was removed from a flight to accommodate a crewmember. This is not allowed in Canada.

We enjoyed complimentary satellite TV, movies, and drinks, but the water for tea hadn’t been boiled. Yuck. Is it ever? I know the difference and couldn’t finish it. We ordered no bland, over-priced airplane food as I packed fruit and sandwiches from home. Tired, I managed to kill a couple hours dozing but felt I hadn’t closed my eyes at all: they burned, I felt light-headed and punch-drunk. Promising myself I wouldn’t, when nature called I gave in to visiting the loo though I avoid airplane bathrooms with a passion. People have nasty habits. Why do they leave a mess like children in public facilities?

Always a relief to arrive safe, our touch down on Mother Earth was quiet and uneventful, likely due to the absence of passengers. We deplaned fine but baggage claim proved nerve-wracking. No flight and carousel numbers posted for long minutes. After a couple walkarounds to all three carousels, the first one showed our flight. Last one on, first one out. The luggage soon pounced through the chute lickety-split. Let the adventure begin.

 As females will, we found the Ladies and rushed through Arrivals with our bags. Sunglasses-and-light-jackets weather, a cool breeze greeted us outside the airport. A clear view due to few cars parked at the curb, Mary said, “I wonder where Jean is.” Pacing after the cramped sit, Jean and Michael arrived about ten minutes later. Tight hugs and hurried catch-ups, Jean’s hubby loaded the luggage into the van.

As previously arranged, we had other plans and did not head for their house. By prior arrangement, Belcarra Regional Park beckoned instead. The clock read approximately 8:45 a.m. Vancouver time—three hours behind Ontario.

Had we left from Jean and Michael’s house, our destination would have taken less time. If a road or bridge traversed the water, we’d have made it in minutes, but Michael had to arc a long way around from the airport. As he drove, Jean, prepared as ever, surprised us with mouth-watering Greek mini pocketless pita sandwiches. Mary and I grinned. I can’t recall the delectable fillings snuggled between the slices, but I devoured the treats like a little-used Hoover put to work. Michael suggested a coffee stop but we passed. Good thing, too, because we arrived late for the appointed time as had a number of others joining us.

The park covers a vast area with a number of trails and parking areas. It took a couple of misses before we found the right carpark and picnic area. Turned out we weren’t the last to arrive. Someone pronounced everyone present and Jon arranged a digital remembrance of the moment.

                                                                  Belcarra selfie ©Jon Nightingale

One trail, considered moderate, stretched (was not circular) 5.5 kilometer forward and back and another one, an additional 5.2 km. A democratic group. You could do one or both. Hadn’t Mary and I just flown four and a half hours from Ontario? The hike sounded fun a month ago when we planned it. Was joining this group a bizarre idea?

~ * ~

Next on February 16: North to Alaska: A-Hiking We Will Go

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles



North to Alaska: Will We Make it to the Airport?

When my sister, Mary, and I booked this trip, by way of Vancouver the year before, I’d been gung-ho. The day for departure had arrived, but my heart wasn’t in it.

The afternoon before our flight, I booked a taxi online, then called by evening to check the booking with a human being. Everything was fine. We were set.

When I go away, I use Gravity Pet Feeders (one for each cat with kibble and one full of water for both). That taken care of, Mary and I watched a movie when Dickens waddled to the sofa and sank into the carpet at my feet. His breathing laborious, heavy, and shallow, terrified me. Was he knocking on heaven’s door? What timing for a vet visit so close to our flight. Dollars spun in my head. I picked him up. His eyes were dull and half-mast. What to do? We analyzed the circumstances and an Aha moment struck. Unbeknownst to me, he and Lady Gaga thought they’d arrived at Kibble Heaven and gorged on the mountain of food before it disappeared. Dickens stuffed himself to bursting and had to wait it out. Lady Gaga, ever a lady, pushed away from the tray sooner than he. Just. An hour later Dickens’ breathing better, we toddled off to bed, I wrestling he’d make it through the night; Mary off to sweet dreams. Dickens isn’t her cat.

I never sleep well before a trip. Worried about the scheduled taxi pickup in the dark hours of the morning—more like the middle of the night—I woke up at 2 a.m. sleep gone. My bedside alarm finally jolted me out of a doze two hours later. The travel alarm I’d specifically purchased as a backup had failed. Mary’s phone alarm rang first. Good save.

Forty-five minutes isn’t a lot of time to get ready and out the door but we managed. Dressed, beds made, breakfast choked down, dishes rinsed and deposited into the dishwasher.

As I scrambled, the phone rang with an automated message that our taxi was in transit. Five minutes later, another call: the cab waited in the driveway. Mary gobbled her cereal as did I. My bags were already upstairs by the front door; hers in the trunk of her car.

What is it with taxi drivers with his personal items in the trunk, leaving little room for passengers’ bags? I’ve seen it happen before. He didn’t know how to position them to close the trunk. Exasperated, I leaned in and made them fit. Our carry-ons came into the back seat with us. I had asked for the $35.00 flat rate to the local airport. Agreed. You have to ask for it. Mary and I each kicked in $20 for a five-dollar tip, considering the ride lasted 15 minutes and the storage shortage in the trunk.

An airport attendant, mere feet from the door we entered, approached right away and helped with printing the boarding passes and luggage tags. The agent told us to bring our luggage to the conveyor belt and goodbye bags. They weren’t even weighed. How does that happen? Wow! Mary over-packs coming and going and fussed about paying extra for an overweight bag.

What a difference between Hamilton Airport and Toronto’s Pearson, or are domestic flights less complicated? A previous domestic flight we’d taken from Toronto was nothing like this one. No hassles: no crowds, long lines, miles to walk, and no belt or shoe removal. The Waiting Area was one minute away from—what else?—a Tim Hortons. Mary needed a coffee; I held off a few minutes. Fumble fingers me almost tossed the hot liquid all over myself when I did. How I managed a quick save, I’ll never know.

“What was that?” Mary asked with a smirk. A few minutes later, she up-ended her coffee on the table where her brown overflow carry-all/purse rested wide open with now wet contents. After our boarding passes had printed, the lovely attendant mentioned boarding would be late about an hour. Our Direct flight to Vancouver needed to be refueled and prepared for return there. I wondered why our boarding pass and the electronic posting still say 6:25 a.m. Mary had checked if the plane would be on time the previous night as you’re supposed to. Confirmed. Flight time not changed. By 6:40, the overhead flight information flashed:

Flight 241 departure 6:25 a.m. Delayed. Estimated 7:25 a.m. 

Thank you.

Our waiting area for Gate 3 had a scattered dozen souls. An announcement over the loudspeaker apologized for a minor delay: some valve(s) had to be replaced. Valve(s)? Didn’t sound minor to me. I believe in transparency, but this was scary news. Why were valves mentioned at all? And don’t say they are a minor fix. What’s minor about them? They all feel major to me since we’re to lift off into the sky.

~ * ~

Next on February 9, 2018: Where’s the Easy Button?

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Packing Up and Homeward Bound

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Breakfast was a disappointment. Again:  dry buns, squashed croissants, and small stale Danish. I loaded up on cantaloupe, watermelon and pineapple, a piece of toast, and coffee. I decided not to gorge on our last day.

After breakfast, Ernesto and his wife entered an elevator with two Chinese businessmen. It stopped part way to their destination and wouldn’t budge. One of the businessmen began to sweat, his face beet-red. Ernesto’s wife hit the red button and someone answered at once with instructions but nothing worked. After a moment or two—that’s all it took—the elevator stirred to everyone’s relief, especially the Chinese man.

~ * ~

Time to leave for the airport, Sue and I towed our luggage to the elevator at 8:25 a.m. Though it appeared too full, the occupants insisted we get on. We stopped on almost every floor and with much shifting, more people squeezed on. I laughed inwardly because this felt like the Volkswagen commercial where endless lines of people pile in. Nobody thought the elevator was too full to get on and no one considered waiting for the next one. By the time we’d reached the first floor, we had enough Chinese people to start our own small village with a population of a million or two.

~ * ~

After we’d settled at our boarding gate at the airport, Sue and I went in search of bottled water to take on the plane. Before boarding, we passed through another security check, opened our bags and carry-ons, and lost the untouched water. Other passengers had also purchased water but were robbed of their bottles as well. A female passenger argued with the stewardess.

“There should be a sign if we’re not allowed to bring water on board.”

“Madam, we are not allowed to do that in Hong Kong.”

“Well, how was I supposed to know my new water bottle will be confiscated?”

“You will know for next time.”


I tried wifi at the airport without success. The plane before us had been delayed; the passengers moved to another gate after much dithering. Our flight wasn’t announced. Tick. Tock. The clock snuck past our boarding time with no updates offered. Finally, another gate became available. We were 35 minutes late boarding. Thank goodness we didn’t have to run to the other end of the airport, but I worried about the prearranged limo we’d paid for to pick us up in Toronto.

The aircraft was puny: two seats on either side of a narrow aisle, not unlike the one we had taken from Toronto to Chicago at the beginning of our trip. The door closed and—nothing. We waited. The passengers shifted in their seats and looked at each other across the aisle. Coughs and sneezes echoed throughout the cabin. Drat. Disease incubator!

1st announcement:

“We need to fuel up so we have enough gas to get you to To-ron-to.”

2nd announcement after a long spell of twitchy waiting:

“We’re trying to locate the guy who’s supposed to fill us up.”

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

(Is that enough fuel? Are you kidding?)  Credit: Wikimedia Commons

3rd announcement:

“He went to the wrong…”


My heart danced the Nitty Gritty. So close to home—yet would we even make it?  The air in the cabin grew stale and stifling. Susan’s stomach had been queasy while we were still in the airport. I now had a scratchy throat and stuffed sinuses.

Credit:  SOUL of the North : tolpuddleman’s channel

~ * ~

Finally soaring, the flight proceeded without further incidents. My eyes didn’t itch nor burn from lack of sleep though it was the middle of the night. By 1:00 a.m. breakfast arrived, but I wasn’t hungry. I had half the omelet, a taste of the anemic pork sausage and two toonie-sized hash brown coins. The drinks cart came around once. I would have loved more coffee. Finally, a second offer was made.

I watched a lot of movies, and read a complete book I’d borrowed from an avid reader in our group. Touchdown in Chicago didn’t require five or six hours to proceed on a flight home.

We arrived in Toronto ahead of schedule and in one piece but had to trudge forever across the tarmac to the airport. I felt like a rag doll. The airport is huge; it isn’t easy nor forgiving. There are no walkalators nor airport treadmills. Not a washroom in sight for miles and miles.

I noticed something interesting at the baggage carousel. A female police officer and a sniffer dog checked the incoming luggage. I’d have expected a German shepherd, instead, a beagle named Lucy sniffed and wagged.

Credit: Google Images

Credit: Google Images

We waited about five minutes for the limo driver. The deal was if the plane didn’t arrive on time, the driver would only wait for an hour. Phew! Almost home.

Soon we sped towards home-sweet-home, the great adventure over. I couldn’t wait for a hot shower without watching the clock and to snuggle in my own bed again.

The End

Next on February 2nd: North to Alaska

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

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I plan to drop in for a visit and a short update Monday.

Flight to Guangzhou

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Luggage had to be outside our rooms at 10:00 p.m. the night before. The wake-up call jangled at 5:15 a.m. and we rushed to breakfast soon after 5: 30.


  • Fried eggs (had to wait for hot steamer refill: were rubbery)
  • Coffee, watermelon, cantaloupe, bananas
  • Buns, strawberry jam
  • Sausage (no knives for sausage or jam)

Breakfast is normally at 6:30 a.m. Who can eat even earlier in the morning? Still, I managed to stuff myself. The offerings weren’t bad (though of limited variety) considering the English eight and the French group (about 30 people) were the only early risers. We were to leave for the airport by 6:20 for an 8:00 a.m. flight. I guess the next breakfast crowd will have our leftovers.

I noticed how the landscape on our (English Eight only) bus trip to the airport changed: less mountainous or maybe just smaller mountains. The French Group was nowhere to be seen.

Lily, our guide, has an apartment in Guilin where she lives with her husband and nine-year-old daughter. They must be doing well enough because she mentioned she bought an apartment in town for her parents. Her husband works at the airport, she didn’t specify his job but confirmed he is not a pilot when someone asked.

Quick Facts

  • Nissan: most popular Japanese car in Guilin (light and good on gas)
  • Costs less than $20,000 USD
  • Insurance per year: $800.00 (imagine that, considering the number of daily accidents

The flight was uneventful this time. Upon our arrival at Guangzhou, a new tour guide awaited by the name of Helen. We guessed her age as fifty-something.  She later introduced our bus driver as Mr. Li, who he appeared to be in his mid-thirties or so. Mr. Li? After landing, the ladies needed the Happy House, but the first two washrooms were full. We continued towards baggage claim and found one which wasn’t busy.

Guangzhou Quick Facts

  • Population: 20 million
  • Area: 11,000 square kilometers
  • Third biggest city in China next to Shanghai and Beijing
  • They have no winter
  • Only three seasons
  • Spring all year round
  • Also known as flower city/spring city
© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles  (Stairway to Five Goats Sculpture)

  • Agricultural city and market: fresh fruits, vegetables, chickens etc.
  • Restaurants crowded with local people, who prefer eating out to cooking
  • Many restaurants
  • Tea enjoyed three times a day
  • Eat two meals a day
  • 100-year old lunch restaurant is the best restaurant
  • Lots of steps because the building here are old
  • Busy shopping area
  • Has the best wood for coffins
  • Long ago locals had a poor life / lived and slept on the river in boats
  • the main occupation is shipping
  • Pearl River is the fifth-longest

Another full-sized bus for us. Of course, I agree, we must be special. Off we drove to Goat Park

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

The story goes: five goats from heaven brought five types of grain, presented it to the locals, and taught them how to grow them. Grateful, the people built the Five Goats Temple. Read more about it here.

~ * ~

Next on November 10th: Guangzhou

© 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. I hope to return but when is the question. Thank you for your faithful reading. I DO appreciate your kind and continued support far beyond my capability to express. Please bear with me.

To Yangshuo: Countryside

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

I had to catch my breath as we rushed through the zoo. Next on the agenda was a local flight to Guilin. We had to get our luggage checked and be ready to board by 11:10 a.m. for an hour flight. There were no unexpected surprises at the airport this time: no wands shrieked, nor gongs rang; no high-pitched voices nor thumping feet. Everyone had packed properly; no one wore heavy metal except for one tour member’s knee implant.

A boxed lunch was served on board again, but I don’t recall what had been on offer.

Upon landing, our new tour guide, thirty-something Lily, met us at the airport. She was an attractive young woman, dressed in cold weather fleece pants and jacket. She appeared reserved but approachable.


Guilin Quick Facts

  • Population Guilin: 1 million, includes 5 urban districts. Total equals 4.7 million
  • Lots of Limestone mountains
  • Yao Mountain only earth mountain, also the highest
  • Small buildings only up to five storeys high
  • Lakes and two rivers
  • Have 4 seasons
  • Living standard is okay
  • Tourism main source of revenue
  • Tax-free for business
  • Minority regions, tax tree
  • Good transportation
  • Major fashion manufacturers: Shanghai & Kenton
  • Southern port of China

We were surrounded by limestone mountains from the airport to Guilin. What a sight to see.

Known for:

  • Specialty chili paste; local taste is hot
  • Herbal medicine
  • Fermented tofu
  • Persimmons, kumquats, oranges
  • Local wine (53% made from rice), named: Three Flower
  • Natural wine quarry
  • Local beer: Lee Cham
  • Hometown of local painting
  • Ocean pearls about 300 miles (km) from Guilin
  • 10 army bases present because close to Vietnam border
  • Rice has two crops a year. Ninety percent of rice farmers suffer rheumatism and arthritis


Frolicking in a tea field. I couldn’t balance the hat on my head.

Tea Quick Facts:

  • Guilin area is known for Chinese Tea
  • Tea Institute does research on tea properties (founded in 1965 near Yao Mountain)
  • Same tea bush, different tea from different parts of the bush
  • Tea picking is in the morning
  • Osmanthus tree, a relative of cinnamon (use only flowers not bark for tea)
  • Flower tea: Jasmine, Osmanthus
  • Green tea has caffeine, radiation-resistant for people use computers for long hours
  • White tea regulated and produced in limited quantities for export
  • Oolong tea, you must have clay pot (color is red but like black tea) but different taste

Tea Disruption

  • Most popular tea? Depends on age group and type of job (social standing)
  • Tea for modern people: “Pu-Erh” tea compressed into a hard block
  • Puer tea (expensive) you cut off a piece to make tea
  • Puer tea: good for stomach, detox high cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, rheumatism and good for losing weight

We were invited to a tea tasting after the tour. I wasn’t fond of most of it. One couple liked the Pu-Erh tea  and bought a box. It wasn’t cheap and looked like a block of tar.


~ * ~

Additional Information:

Tea farm outside Guilin:

How do they make it? Puer Tea Production:

 ~ * ~

Next on September 22: To Yangshuo -Countryside

© 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 DO appreciate your kind and continued support more than I can express.


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:

 Preparation of BBQ:

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.


© 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.

Suzhou to Shanghai – Part 1

At home, my regular breakfast consists of a small container of yogurt, a hard-boiled egg, and coffee. From the first morning after our arrival in China, I ate breakfast as if it were my last meal. I even sampled more than one kind of roll although I rarely eat bread. An extravagant buffet breakfast is not easy to ignore, but I believe I burned all those calories during our days of walking and climbing and walking some more. I bet hoisting myself up into the bus consumed 1,000 calories, easy.

Sue checked her rash but it still had not improved and her legs and feet were still swollen. There was no pain and she was satisfied with that.

We started the day early to avoid crowds at Liu Garden, which Jackie, our guide, called The Lingering Garden. Upon entering the grounds, instructions about time and meeting location were dispatched immediately.

“If you need the Happy House, it is there.” Jackie waved in the direction of a low building. We squinted with pinched brows. What?

 “Happy House is toilet.” He checked the screen on his cell phone and was gone. We were on our own to wander as we wished. Again.

The garden was small, neat and clean. It seemed there’s no such thing as early. Paths and passages were tight in spots and we had to wait for a turn to pass. We rubbed elbows with lots of other visitors. Lorena lost us when she stopped for a photo opportunity. Not successful in finding us, she headed back to the parking lot where the buses were parked. She saw the French Group’s guide, who then called Jackie and he joined us up together again.

Back on the bus, we settled in for a two-hour ride to Shanghai passing the time napping or talking, sometimes asking Jackie questions.

Once again we were treated to a tourist wonderland of Cashmere / Pashmina factory shopping. The sweaters, shawls etc. didn’t interest me. I noticed the men’s pained faces as if they’d been lined up for a firing squad.

Before we left the factory, a museum stop on the schedule was voted down in favor of more shopping time at the bazaar in the afternoon. Jackie suggested this was a great place for picking up knock-offs which are illegal everywhere. The men’s faces drooped.

Silk Embroidery Shop:

This work is amazing embroidery anyone shall ever see. Some work is done in 1/64th thickness of a silk strand. Hard to imagine. I wonder if the workers have good compensation when they go blind. Even with my nose an inch from the finished product, I could have sworn these were paintings. Some were three dimensional; the fur on some animals was ultra realistic and breathtaking. I couldn’t help reaching for it.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                              © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                                © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

The following  is the best link I could find for silk embroidery display (Some Jade images are included)

Chinese Saying:

He (or she) has a jade face (means: is good looking)

Jade is highly valued, therefore this is the highest compliment you can pay someone.

 ~ * ~

Next on June 2, Shanghai, Part 2  Huangpu River and the Bund

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

Suzhou: Part 2 – Old Town Market

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Our first stop in Suzhou, a quaint, little town with a population of 3.8 million, was at the Old Town Market. The bus parked, we followed close behind Jackie to a busy crossroad where he pointed to either side of the busy street. On one side we could visit the old town market. On the opposite side was a more modern, touristy shopping area. At last, we were allowed to roam as we chose for a couple of hours. We were to meet at a designated area at 6:00 p.m.

I joined up with Bonnie and Russ and we headed to the market and a whole different world: open stalls, sidewalk displays; elbow room only and brisk exchanges of money and goods. No health concerns were in evidence. We saw small squirmy fish; large fish in shallow tubs of (cloudy) water; frogs; eel; cut-up pig parts with skin on and live chickens, As well, there were shoes, fabrics, and all types of outdated (to us) clothing. If you were hungry hot food was available as well as unrecognizable vegetables. These people were poor.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

We walked through the market and crossed over an old bridge to the other side of the canal. Talk about being thrown back to another time: a world of bicycles and mopeds, old shops, dank houses with peeling paint hanging over the river, some with neither a stoop nor steps. I imagined someone opening the back door and falling into the water. Oopsie. The water wasn’t clear and inviting.


IMG_0458 IMG_0459

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                               © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


Small river boats were kept busy as one after another appeared.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                                   © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

We wandered into a shop and found paintings and hangings of the same bridge we’d crossed, as well as many recreations of past times at this location. With a little time to spare, we wandered across the road to the newer, touristy section but it was of little appeal.

Pizza Pizza, McDonald’s, KFC are not plentiful but not unusual. I had to take a picture of this, though, my first sighting.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                               © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

On our way to the bus and the hotel, I realized how much we’d covered this day, including the flight. My stomach rumbled and my feet wanted a rest. Thirty minutes late, we food was ready.


  • Breaded and fried chicken
  • Scrambled eggs and white kind of fish
  • Breaded pork
  • French fries
  • Cauliflower with bacon and young beans
  • Green vegetable (mystery)
  • Rice with fried egg
  • Soup with tomato
  • Watermelon for dessert
  • Tea and the usual drinks
© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                                © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                             © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Our hotel was gorgeous and the room attractive, but the shower leaked. The sink and toilet were Koehler brand and I noticed either the door or the door frame in the bathroom were not plumb.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                             © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                               © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Chinese saying:

Chinese will eat anything with legs except a table; anything that flies, except a plane, and everything that swims, except a boat.

 ~ * ~

Next on May 26 –  Suzhou to Shanghai, Part 1

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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


Suzhou: Part 1 – Jade Tour and a Flight

The day began at 5:00 a.m. and not on a good note. Sue hadn’t slept well and we had no hot water for showers. I didn’t bother, but Sue did. My hair needed washing so I stuck it underneath the tap. Brr. Cold.

We’d been instructed to leave our luggage outside the door before 7:45 a.m. As Sue pushed hers against the wall I rolled mine over the thresh-hold and—slam—locked us out. Down to the front desk and back up again. We were relieved to return with the assistant manager and her life-saving master key. Our purses with passports and money were still there. Whew. We reported the cold water situation to save the next visitors the headache.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (Taken from 10th floor on our way to breakfast)

The pieces carved out of jade were fascinating; the workmanship astonishing with delicate and intricate detail but too expensive for me. I don’t need jade jewelry either and certainly don’t have room for anymore dust collectors. I’m trying to down-size collectibles. Bonnie and Russ bought a tricky jade piece featuring five (or seven) balls, one inside the other, which were all movable, but do not come apart.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (Jade carving)

        Click for stupendous photos of  Jade Carvings in Ancient China

We headed to the airport after the Jade romp to catch our one-hour-and-forty-five-minute fight to Souzhou. At securit,y two suitcases from our group set off alarms. Jim had one of the problem suitcases and Russ the other. Scanning revealed 15 or so ‘A’ batteries stored in his luggage were the culprits. The last flight he’d been told to store them there. This time, they were pulled out and he was advised to them into his carry-on. I’m not sure what problem Jim had. A screaming baby must have fallen asleep. We finally boarded at 12:30 p.m., taxied and lifted skyward.

Lunch was served on the plane. The Stewart threw (not dropped) the boxed meal onto my table. He moved so fast, some noodles spilled into my lap and he didn’t even notice. Not a good day for him either. Other than the spilled noodles, I don’t remember eating.

Upon landing, I reached for my carry-on in the overhead. By accident, my hand landed not on top of the seat in front of mine, but on the head of the man who sat there. What a fuss he made. You’d think I’d assaulted him. The Chinese language, when the speaker talks loudly sounds enraged to me. I used my most soothing voice to apologize. He didn’t need to understand the words. Wouldn’t you know, I had him on my radar all the way into the airport. While Chinese people appear to invade your space in a crowd and fill any available space, they do not touch anyone around them.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

We were met by, Jackie, a new guide, a tall, attractive man of thirty-eight with an easy going style and a great command of English. The bus ride to Souzhou took a couple of hours. The city is known as The Garden City or Venice of the East because of its many canals.

~ * ~

Next on May 19 – Suzhou: Part 2 – Old Town Market (lots of pictures).

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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