How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE


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On the Yangtze, Part 7

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

How precious is a pen? I’d brought four with me and lost one. The last one is almost out of ink. What will I do if I can’t scare up more or another one? I like gel pens but hadn’t remembered how fast they run dry. I scribbled a lot, I suppose. At home, I’d pull another one out of my stash of dozens. Why hadn’t I brought more?

Lunch

Salads

Cauliflower (lemon flavored); red kidney beans and chick peas; fruit salad (with bananas, ugh); spicy red leaves (yum); tendons of beef mutton; mixed five-bean salad

Sliced oranges; cantaloupe (honey dew); whole pears; sliced red cabbage, sliced cucumbers; grape tomatoes; chunks romaine and red cabbage; chopped hard boiled eggs; raisins; real crumbled bacon

Dressings

French, Italian and Thousand Island (none of these are what we recognize as such)

Mains

Rice ball, duck breast in brown sauce; stir fry vegetables, bacon of Sichuan style; baked sweet potato; stewed beef brisket; pasta with mushroom cream sauce; steamed egg; stewed sliced fish in tomato sauce; steamed white rice; duck and pickles soup; cream of corn soup, and buns

* * *

The 3:00 p.m. extra excursion was reinstated: Ghost City Tour and Stairway to Hell in place of canceled Goddess Stream Tour previous day.

To visit Hell and Ghost City, we climbed (we were told) 500 steps. No, it wasn’t continuous. The ground leveled out at intervals and showcased temples and statues and bridges etc. I stopped counting after 10 or 11 steps as I huffed and puffed to keep up with the crowd. With no illusions about completing the ascent, I soldiered on. Talk about a workout in muggy weather yet!

Heaven Hill under Construction

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

Look wa-ay-y up! Model of Temple of Hell.

Model Temple of Hell

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

Many tour groups crowded around their guides, who used megaphones to be heard over other guides. It was too noisy and congested for me. I gave up listening.

The way down sloped at a steep angle; I was careful not to fall on my face. The road was paved and wide enough for a car but used for foot traffic. Members of my group had disappeared. Some had lost interest and turned back to the ship. I came down alone.

At one point I saw no-one and heard only birdsong and my runners thump against the asphalt, then, another set of footfalls clunked behind me. My heart in my throat, I stopped to pretend-fix my laces and caught sight of a man fiddling with his camera. I wasted no time hoofing forward till I reached a bend in the road and saw people milling around. My second experience since Shanghai, I came upon a disfigured man lying on the ground, begging. It appears these poor souls are well hidden from tourist’s eyes.

At the bottom, we’d come through an open market. This time a particular display caught my attention. I stopped and bought a bottle of wine (either Great Wall label or Dynasty). After a brief negotiation, I paid 50 Yuan or $8.30 USD.

Outnumbered thousands to one, I found myself surrounded by Chinese tourists and the loud chatter of exuberant Chinese voices. Taking a deep breath, I approached the closest open mini-bus and said the name of our ship with a dramatic question mark attached. The driver nodded. Everyone stared at me, the foreigner. The driver waited to fill two more seats before proceeding toward the river. We were deposited at the top of a hill where more stairs awaited downward bound. I jumped out and booted it down the stairs, down the long walkway to another semi-enclosed market where the locals gawked at the lone westerner. At least that’s how it felt. I passed men guys eating noodles. boxes of wine, cases of soft drinks and beer, and other foodstuffs.

Hot and sticky, I wanted a shower and to cool off. I’m surprised my legs held me upright after all the stairs I’d scaled in the past couple hours. Guides waited along the way directing those returning through two—or was it three—ships anchored side-by-side. I recognized no one. What a lost feeling surrounded by only Chinese!

After a quick shower, I enjoyed cool air on the balcony where an almost breeze teased me but not for long. Tourists hanging out over their balconies blew smoke clouds about, some of the smell settled on me and in our room. I went inside and shut the doors. Smoking in the state rooms wasn’t allowed. Alarms installed in the ceilings kept guest honest. Puffing outside was okay.

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie  (I can’t believe how crooked the imprint is)

Our last night on the cruise had arrived. Time to dress up for a fancy Captain’s Farewell Dinner.

This is the only time we had a menu for any meal on the ship, not even at the Captain’s Welcome Dinner. This was a dress-up affair again and I felt glam and extra tall in my four-inch spikes.

After dinner, we paid our shipboard accounts and packed our bags, which were deposited in the main lobby. I hated always leaving my luggage out of sight.

I was ready to get off the ship and looked forward to a new adventure in the morning.

 * * *

Additional links:

This link gives brief blurbs about the various ghosts.

http://www.lovethesepics.com/2011/04/freaky-fengdu-ghost-city-wtf-china-34-photos/

This one provides a 4.12-minute tour but is difficult to understand.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RuKGpIOQJ0

* * * 

Next time on September 8, Chongquin, 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. I DO appreciate your kind and continued support more than I can express.

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Shaolin: Kung Fu Training and Shaolin Temple

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Already I was confused regarding the day. My iPad said Thursday but its calendar highlighted Wednesday. My laptop also showed Wednesday. Sheesh, different time zone. The reason for my disorientation was our itinerary had been flipped and I could not keep the changes straight.

This is where we slept the previous night. Pretty swanky hotel, but we saw no other guests.

© 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.

From the hotel, we drove to the Shaolin School of Kung Fu. Our guide, Lisa, told us the attendees were 95% boys with 5% girls. I saw no girls.

Lisa wore the same clothes as the day before: red track pants and a red quilted jacket. Too warm for the humid weather.The forecast for the day: 20 degrees.

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

We sat inside for a thirty-minute-plus Kung Fu performance. The place was run down inside and out, needed paint and refurbishing. I took a couple of videos but deleted them because they were too blurry.

The little guy in white, the youngest but a rapidly advancing pupil, demonstrated clutching a bowl-shaped object to his midriff by muscle control. To prove authenticity, a pole inserted through a hole in the object (was it a bell?) allowed two young men to lift it shoulder length and carry the boy as he hung firmly attached, belly-up.

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4-s8TBB6dw  (4.49 min) A peak at Kung Fu training.

Quick Facts:

  • Shaolin Home of Shaolin School of Kung Fu
  • Established 495 A.D.
  • 10,000 students
  • Ages 3 to 18 (complete education here, equivalent to finishing high-school)
  • 95% boys / 5% girls
  • Half-day school / half-day Kung Fu training
  • This is a private school (parents pay for room, board, and tuition)
  • One month holiday in February during Chinese New Year
  • Parents can come to visit on weekends
  • Costs (10,000 Yuan) under $2,000 U.S. per year
  • Attending this school is good for finding a job later
  • Can open own Kung Fu school in other countries instead of finding a job
  • Famous personalities from this school: Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan

Pagoda Forest / Shaolin Temple

A short distance away we visited the Pagoda Forest. Rain drizzled as we walked around. Young girls giggled and stared, and begged to have their picture taken with the foreigners (‘the big noses’).

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

This is what the tombs look like. The size depended on the monk’s life achievement and the number of  financial contributors.

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 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.

Quick Facts: 

  • Graveyard with 248 tombs for important monks
  • Depending on life’s accomplishments = size of tomb
  • Depending on number of supporters (donations) = size of tomb
  • Tombs built during an eminent monk’s lifetime, not after death, and added to till he died

Some highlights at the Temple

© 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. (The well is picture below)

© 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.  (This is the preserved well.)

Protectors of the Temple

© 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.

© 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.

An Altar

© 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.

~ *~

Next on April 28:  Xian

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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


56 Comments

#ShortStory

I confess sci-fi is not me. No way am I up for this week’s #BlogBattle prompt. Instead, I offer this short story for your weekly entertainment.

 

Heart Burn

I never understood her—my mother: blonde, a goddess, svelte and self-assured like my older sister. I was the dark one, the disappointment. How had that happened? I could not be more different from them: neither as smart nor as trim. They chummed together like girlfriends, leaving me out in the cold.

***

She promised to meet me at Starbuck’s Saturday morning. I arrived early. My heart pounded and the acid in my stomach burned like the searing edge of a hot knife churning pirouettes. She breezed in like she owned the place. The shop almost empty, I was easy to find.

“Mother,” I said, “new suit?” She always dressed well. She had the figure for it, of course.

“Are you all right dear? You appear flushed.” She reached across the table and checked my forehead with a cool hand as if I were a child. “I’ll get the coffee.” A pat on my shoulder and I watched her heels clickety-clacked across the stone tile floor.

I gulped air in hopes of calming down, but she returned too soon.

“Still black, I take it. Thought we’d splurge with a couple brownies.”

Brownies. One minute she told me to lay off the sweets and the next she offered them. Either I was losing my mind, or she was. I took the lid off my coffee cup to cool it quicker.

“It’s clear to me, dear, you’re upset about something. Man troubles? School?” Flawless, penciled brown brows rose to perfect peaks.

“You came.” The words popped out before I realized I’d said them aloud. I clamped hands to my mouth.

“Yes. You invited me. Remember?”

“I’m surprised you made it—so busy with all your clubs—and Melissa.” I watched her face. None of her thoughts showed.

She had the decency to blink, false lashes aflutter. Her flaming pink mouth worked like a fish out of water. “What is wrong with you? I love you both the same.”

The audacity of the lie. “I’m not in the least like you or Melissa. I don’t match—don’t fit.”

“How old are you?”

“You don’t know?”

“I mean at 21 you’re acting like a six-year-old.”

“You and Melissa—always together, joining clubs, chapters this and that, whispering, laughing.”

“Do you like or enjoy these groups and societies?”

“Well, no—but you never have time for me.” Bile fought to strangle me, but I fought back. “Then you send me away to school. I wanted to attend college in our hometown but no, it had to be university.”

“Lily, dear, what’s this about? You’re fifty miles from home and in your last year. Are you taking your medication? You’re not yourself.”

“How would you know? Here’s the other thing, my coloring is so much darker than anyone else in the family. Melissa is like you. I’m nothing like you two, I’m loose fat…” I swallowed the howl threatening to undo me. I will not cry. I will not!

“You take after your grandmother, Esther Maria, on your father’s side. You know this. What a Spanish beauty—you look exactly like her, same thick hair and smoky eyes.”

“Right. A fat beauty with fat hair. Am I adopted?”

“Nothing about this conversation makes sense.” Mother picked up a napkin and fanned herself. She scanned the half-empty coffee shop with ice blue eyes.

I almost heard the gears in her head grinding, devising lies. “Easy to tell me whatever you want. How did you find time to visit me at last?”

Her look made me squirm. “I told you about the obligations I couldn’t break. I’m here now. Look, sweetie, your grandmother died before you were born. You’ve seen her pictures and heard the stories. This is crazy. ”

“So now I’m crazy?” I wanted the talking to stop. I didn’t like it anymore.

“Have you had headaches lately, or trouble sleeping?”

I shrugged. What had that to do with anything? “You love Melissa better, don’t you?”

“Take my hand. I have five fingers. Which one shall I cut off because I don’t need or want it?”

“What?”

“Which daughter means less to me than the other?”

“You’re always talking in riddles.”

“Tell me which one and I’ll chop it off.”

“No. you won’t. You’re just saying that.” I slouched in my chair but did not break eye contact.

She stared me down. I flinched. Her chair scraped the floor. An iron grip clutched my arm. “Let’s go.”

The End

Images courtesy Pixabay

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


49 Comments

A Quick Update

Dickens is the ginger and Lady Gaga, well, you can guess.

Dickens is the ginger and Lady Gaga, well, you can guess.

Our power went out yesterday and then the internet got snarky. Frustrated, I called it a day. I may not comment on yesterday’s posts as it’s a daily struggle to keep up with the last 12 hours of posts let alone 24. Have I any hair left after yesterday? Read on.

Last week I finished a short two-week course and have two more to complete during the next six weeks. Another beast hungry for my time.

Thank you for your continued support. I hope you understand my exasperation.

P.S.  I wrote a post earlier this morning, but it disappeared. Not only had I fought a spastic page, it scrambled and unscrambled the menu and media bars, ribbons and bars floated over words disallowing access to type, same as last Friday when I posted. At one point, everything disappeared then came back. I saved a draft in a hurry. In the end, it was all for naught. Anyone experience anything like this? I have. Some time ago. It lasted a while and was no more but not this bad.


86 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #144

To join the fun, checkout

http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week144/

This week’s prompt is …the black dog walks alongside me… + 100 words

100wcgu-72

WHO GOES THERE?

Something scraped against the window. Winston bolted upright, thick Einstein-like hair askew. “Who’s there?” Heart thrashing, he gasped for breath. As crusted eye-lids unglued, he scanned the bedroom. Shadows lurked like black tombstones, details indistinct, even of his virginal bed.

Depressed for months, he’d lost interest in life and slept the indifference of the dead. He grabbed the covers with shaky hands and tossed them. The black dog walks alongside me no more.

 

In the semi-darkness Winston made his bed, showered and dressed. No need to write a note. Peaceful at last, he progressed down the hallway with purpose. The basement door sighed shut behind him.


73 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grown-ups – Week #139

Please checkout http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week139/ for this challenge.

This week’s prompt is …but even when I listened carefully… + 100 words

 

100wcgu-72

Meaning

 Those are tulips—I think. I prefer roses in dark velvet hues. My favourite is carmine—a deep merlot. Someone said carmine looks like dried blood. What a thought.

“Still awake? Time for the toilet and a nap.”

Her voice, pleasant at first, offended my ears. I watched her face for a hint of meaning. The sounds finished, jumbled and empty.

“Ellen, let’s go.” She clapped, then tugged my arm, but even when I listened carefully I couldn’t understand.

Who is this now?

“You’ve stared at that painting enough.”

My vision blurred and lip stung.

“Nurse is busy today,” she said.

The word no escaped me.


50 Comments

100-Word Challenge for Grown-Ups – Week #131

To join, check out Julia’s Place and  ‘What is 100WCGU?‘  This week’s prompt: when the night demons visit.

100wcgu-72

Wanderers

A wispy-haired woman stabbed wood into the yawning woodstove. Jason read at the kitchen table. The autumn wind rattled the windows and shook the dilapidated farmhouse.

“Louder, son.”

He paused and cleared his throat, licked his forefinger, and turned the page. The kerosene flame flickered and hurled giant silhouettes around them. “You can’t hide when the night demons visit.” He leaned closer to the meagre light.

She slammed the lid lifter and glared down at him. “Demons? What demons?” Insistent pounding silenced her. “Did you bolt the door?”

Eyes bulging, Jason shook his head.

“Let us in.”

“Who’s us?”

“Freddy and me.”

“But. You’re. Dead!”