How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE


On the Yangtze, Part 5

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Forecast:  overcast skies and temperatures between 17 and 23 degrees C. Fog, mist and cold, damp air had already set up shop.

The 1:00 a.m. time slot to pass through the locks had been canceled due to poor visibility. After being forced to drop anchor, the captain started up the engines around breakfast to make up for lost time.

I felt claustrophobic surrounded by such solid and towering—sometimes rock and other times cement enclosures—on our side of the ship. We waited our turn. I noticed only one boat/ship behind us. It was smaller than ours.

8:05 a.m.

                               © 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (8:05 a.m.)

The barges had lined up: (10;58 a.m.)

10:58 a.m.

                                     © 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Slow progress towards the beginning of the locks (11:05)

We lingered over a late breakfast rescheduled from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. The promised excursion to the Goddess Stream had been canceled because our late entry through the locks and we hadn’t arrived at the correct destination. The optional tour to the fabulous White Emperor City   (360 Yuan or $60.00 USD) was also canceled. Some people may have been put out, but no-one can control the weather and everyone’s money was refunded.

The days have been so slow and lazy (mostly reading), I found it hard to accept it was only day three on the ship. It took all day to go through all the locks.

To show how lackadaisical I’ve become, I forgot about taking notes regarding lunch offerings.

At 5:30 on Deck 5, a movie ran about how the Three Gorges began, and about the displacement of 1.3 million people in the process. Though the documentary was many years old, the narrator was Jodie Foster. I wished the film had covered more and to a more current date.

Three Gorges Quick Facts:

  • The first gorge (Wu Gorge) is 76 km. long; the second is 44 km and the 3rd, 8 km.
  • The Gorge generates clean hydro power and has air pollution control (generates no pollution)
  • Population: 1.3 billion; India is #2 in population
  • The dam is 1.4 miles long and 700 megawatts per turbine x 32 turbines
  • 3 million people were displaced when the land was flooded
  • Reasons for displacement was flood control and for tremendous additional hydro
  • The young people were happy about the move: new houses, television, and radio etc.
  • The seniors were not happy because they had generations of history, having lived there all their lives
  • This is a mountainous geography
  • There are three man-made tunnels on the way to the gorge, the longest is 3.6 km.

By 3:35 p.m., I noticed we were in the clear and out of the locks.

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie

                                               © 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie

Late Dinner rescheduled for 7:00 p.m.

Salads

Cold pasta; fruit with mayonnaise; cherry tomato salad; lotus root with orange; bean curd with shallot; stewed duck in soy sauce

French, Italian and Thousand Island dressings; romaine and chunks of red cabbage; sliced red cabbage; onion rings; sliced cucumbers; real bacon bits; raisins and Parmesan

Sliced peeled oranges; sliced watermelon; cantaloupe and honey melon; Longon

Mains

Black Pepper Sauce; Mushroom Sauce; stewed pork Hungary-style; roast potatoes; steamed pork slices with pickles; baked cabbage with cream; stewed chicken with bamboo shoots; pizza with pineapple (and banana); diced pork with pineapple; stir fry vegetables; steamed white rice; cream of pumpkin soup; mixed mushroom soup; Chinese fried noodles; and buns.

Desserts

I had two glasses of wine at dinner, and then a third to take to my room following the Guest Talent Show. Oopsie (the glasses were splashed not filled with wine). After the movie on Deck 5, I asked at the bar about buying a (cheap(er) bottle for our room, the same as the local brew at lunch and dinner. This wasn’t possible/available for purchase. Besides Jacobs Creek, an Australian wine ($33 / bottle USD), I was shown a bottle of Dynasty (China’s best local wine) at $21.00 USD. I wasn’t that thirsty. I had paid $10.00 USD, less than half, in Shanghai for the same brand at a tiny grocery store on a side-street.  Yes, it was good at that price and I was not willing to pay more. Hong Kong will be my next wine shopping adventure.

Guest Talent Show:  (Only Four Acts)

  • The French group from Quebec
  • A Spanish group
  • Two Spanish dancers surrounded by their full tour group
  • Robert (our Beijing tour guide) sang a solo.

After the short performance, Bonnie and Loreno joined others for the Twist when dancing music played and more people got into the spirit. Not me.

Afterwards, I read for a while and gabbed with Sue until 11:30. That’s a record for us, and I enjoyed my glass of wine. What a great idea. I’d seen others leaving the dining-room with a glass—and had my Aha moment.

Additional Information on the Locks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8vBOzfkcdQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HKrLbtfkAc

~ * ~

Next on August 25th – On the Yangtze, Part 6

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

~ * ~

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


Cruising the Yangtze, Part 3

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salads

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

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

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

Main

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

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                          © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

~ * ~

 Chinese Saying:

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

~ * ~

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

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

~ * ~

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


Cruising the Yangtze, Part 2

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

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

Chinese Saying:

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

~ * ~

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

Lunch Offerings

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

Salad Bar

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

Dressings

Italian, Thousand Island, and French

Hot lunch

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

White bread, sliced, rolls, and butter

Desserts

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

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                                        © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Onboard Activities 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supper

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

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

Main

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

Desserts

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

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

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

~ * ~

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

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

~ * ~

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


Shanghai, Part 4 – Silk Workshop

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

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

Some advantages of silk fiber bedding:

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

Silk and Comforter Making:

The Life of a silkworm:

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

Lunch:

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

Appetizers:

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

Main:

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

~ * ~

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

~ * ~

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

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

~ *~

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


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)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/45909111@N00/sets/72157607927737804/

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.


Xian, Part 1 – Old City Wall (and more)

Before leaving for the day’s tour, I exchanged $100.00 Canadian to 547 Yuan and paid no commission. A Bank of China specific area was available at the reception desk. The man was pleased with my brand new polymer Canadian bills unlike the ones I’d converted at a machine in a previous hotel. The machine didn’t like polymer bills. Too slippery?

Our first stop of the day was at the old Xian City wall, which stands 12 meters high (13.1234 yards). A lot of stairs to climb to the top surface (15 meters or 16.4042 yards wide). We saw pedestrians and bikers, but it wasn’t crowded at all. Due to the short time allocated to look around, we didn’t walk far. There wasn’t much to see on top where we’d entered anyway.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (On top of the wall)

 © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                        © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (On top of the wall – bikes for hire)

On one side we looked down on modern buildings and the other a market in progress. Buyers and sellers moved in and out at a brisk pace. The location made me think of a wide alley. Old buildings had been removed and continued to be knocked down.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (bright weather for market day)

 © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                              © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (brisk shopping and selling)

Next we visited the Shaanxi History Museum: thousands of artifacts, too many people, and stifling.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                  © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (entrance in museum)
© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (magnificent wall)

Steve, our tour guide, felt ill and stopped at a pharmacy for something to settle his stomach. Instead of leaving us for the day, as I’m sure he might have preferred, he soldiered on, lime-white faced.

 Our third stop in was the factory where the Terracotta Warriors were made. Reproductions of the originals (we will visit next week) are made by way of molds. No two faces are alike. The dedication to fine detail is incredible.

Warrior Wannabe

                             © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (A tourist warrior wannabe)

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                             © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (Life-size, headless and eerie)

Lunch:

  • Eggs and tomatoes
  • Beef with onion
  • Rice
  • Vegetable soup with spinach(?)
  • Noodles
  • Spicy chicken with celery and hot peppers
  • Tofu
  • Cubed potatoes with caramel
  • Sweet and sour fish
  • Mystery meat on a stick (delicious)
© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (Sorry this is fuzzy. Too much beer?  lol

Xian Quick Facts:

  • Total population of China 1.4 billion
  • 200,000,000 Chinese still living in poverty
  • Floating population, living in country-side live on $2.00 a day and scavenge cardboard, paper etc.
  • Some farmers built rooms out of scrap on their property to accommodate the scavengers
  • Scavengers collectively work together to afford a room like this
  • If you own an apartment, your kids inherit it after you die. Cannot sell for profit.
  • If you are a real estate developer, or magistrate, you’ll manage to sell it
  • $300,000 USD + four-unit apartments were given to farmers moved off their land (so the story goes)
  • Some farmers did so well in new environment (new location), they became millionaires (so the story goes)
  • First day of Sweeping Festival begun (April 5-7)
  • Now more people are cremated
  • Traditionally one day for Sweeping Festival bit extended by government for travel to grave sites of dead relatives and loved ones.
  • http://traditions.cultural-china.com/en/14Traditions278.html
  • Cars with 7 or less passengers go free because of Sweeping Festival
  • Vehicles with more than 7, still have to pay toll
  • 6 billion trips are taken around the country during holidays and New Years
  • Our bus driver’s father is a millionaire farmer. Why is his son driving a bus?

~* ~

Next on May 5th, Xian, Part 2 – Terracotta Warriors (at last)

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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


Half-empty or Half-full?

I’ve been meaning to pop in with bushels of heartfelt thanks for your cheery support and warm encouragement during my unexplained absence. I’m still here and kicking and no one is ill. It is not my intent to be mysterious, but I cannot spell out where life has taken me. I will continue missing-in-action for some time. How long? I cannot say. My apologies.

It’s complicated.

On the days I stop to breathe, I miss you and the blogging world yet cannot predict when I’ll return to normal–whatever my normal will be.

Don’t they say every cloud has a silver lining? I do endeavor concentrating on the bright side. Is that a shiny pinhead on the horizon, I see? Everything takes time and patience. Lots of patience.

I look forward to coming back before I’m ninety if you’ll still have me. Thank you for your thoughtful support and for being here.

Comments remain turned off as I haven’t sufficient time to keep up keeping up.

This has hung on my fridge for a few years and still makes me smile. My younger granddaughter warms my heart and adds color to my days.


Luoyang Part 3 – Dinner and Stories

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

At 5:00 p.m., it was still 25 degrees Celsius when we left the Longmen Caves. All around us, the Chinese people dressed in sweaters and wool leggings. Our tour guide, Lisa, wore red sweat pants and a fleece jacket. We foreigners sported shorts or cargo pants and short-sleeved tees because we were hot. The boulevard back to the bus was again another l-o-o-o-n-g walk and the air was sticky.

Our driver turned into a pot-holed dirt road in the middle of no man’s land. What? I don’t recall buildings or much of anything that looked like civilization for a short while. We rounded a tight corner on the bumpy road and like an oasis in the desert came upon the strangest sight–at least to me. Two long buildings materialized meeting at right angles at one corner. I can only describe it as a motel—with a second story.

© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8 The building is in the back. A lovely bridge and flower garden decorated the middle courtyard.

© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8
The building is in the back. A lovely bridge and flower garden decorated the middle courtyard.

Dinner was served through Door 111 in the front room barely large enough for a round 6-foot diameter table and us squeezed around.

IMG_0351

IMG_0352

Dinner:

  • Noodle soup
  • Fritters
  • White rice
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet and sour chicken
  • Scrambled eggs and chopped tomatoes
  • Cooked sliced potatoes and ground beef
  • Pork and scallions
  • Garlic sprouts with sliced red peppers and fungus
  • Greens

This time we were served—count them—two baby glasses of drinks. I had beer. Twice.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles No doors

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles
No doors on outside washroom

The bathroom was an open-ended building across the yard with six or eight stalls. No outside doors or plastic against the elements did I see at either end. All were squats but someone had taken a card chair, removed the seat and stuck a toilet seat on it. I opened the door and slipped inside. Afterward, Sue grumbled because I had lucked out somewhat with the only ‘throne’.

Along the way to the facilities after dinner, we passed two young ladies with a plastic container filled with cutlery (forks). I saw no soap in the water, no sponge or wash cloth. Agitation seemed the customary /accepted practice to clean the flatware.

Maybe this was a restaurant after all. At the end of the building opposite the facilities, we heard kitchen noises and a teen in a not quite pristine kitchen jacket appeared. He ran to the washroom and out again without stopping at the open sink. Had he touched our dinner?

Another man (not from the kitchen) washed his hands with the liquid Palmolive soap before entering the facilities and washed them again on his way out. Sue and I gaped at the scene and then each other.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles Five outdoor sinks and Palmolive liquid soap. No towels.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles
Five outdoor sinks and Palmolive liquid soap. No towels of any kind.

A large fat bug floated in one plugged sink, legs pointed heavenwards, sunning himself, unaware he was dead.

I asked Lisa about the building. The year before, she had brought a tour bus of visitors when only the ground floor had been finished. The second floor had just been added and was just a decoration. What did that mean? I noticed a couple of large windows revealing cardboard boxes stacked high and wide inside.

I asked her again what we call this place.

“A restaurant. A different type of restaurant. I think this is a different experience from other restaurants.”

What? Never mind.

We arrived in Zhengzhou a couple of hours later. The time: 7:00 or 7:30 p.m. in early spring. Is this how dark it is at home in the spring? The hotel was attractive but appeared empty and quiet. The interior design cost more than the building. We dragged out luggage inside. Lisa went to the desk with our passports to get our room keys.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles Old furniture decorating hotel lobby

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles
Old furniture decorating hotel lobby

I asked why the furniture was so big since the people were not. Answer: It was a sign of wealth and prosperity.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Quick Luoyang facts:

  • Population 2 million
  • This is a tourism city
  • Copper mining, glass factory
  • Heavy industry: tractor, first built in 1959
  • The Peony is the city flower (blooms in April)
  • This is an old capital city
  • Buddhism  popular

~ * ~

 Next on April 21:  International Shaolin Kung Fu Training Center and Shaolin Temple

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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


46 Comments

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.


50 Comments

Beijing Part 7: Ming Tombs

word-cloud-7

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

After the Great Wall, a mid-day meal awaited in a local restaurant.

Lunch:

  • Spring rolls (exactly 8)
  • Fish balls with red and green peppers
  • Fried chicken
  • Eggplant with tomato and green peppers
  • Rice
  • Cauliflower and broccoli
  • Soup
  • Cut up orange wedges for dessert
  • Tea
  • The usual one small (free) glass of beer, pop or water
The Spirit Way, original road and entrance to the tombs. There are 13 tombs of which only one has been excavated (Ding Ling)

The Spirit Way: original road and entrance to the tombs. There are 13 tombs of which one only has been excavated (Ding Ling) 

Ming Tombs: where 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty are buried (1368-1644).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfynyPLm4Q0    (3.04 min)

If you would like a more in-depth version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1BqspVU2HA  (8:43 min)

Emperor Yongle with money offerings at his feet. This money is collected and used to maintain the building

Emperor Yongle with money offerings at his feet. This money is collected and used to maintain the building and no, no Chinese person would dare steal this money.  

Laundry: 

  • Hung on rope strung the length of apartment balconies
  • Clothes  hung on hangers: socks, T-shirts, sweaters, trousers, shirts, blouses
  • Did not notice any underwear or bedding

 On the way to dinner:

Robert and the driver appeared to converse more than usual. Robert’s cell rang. He talked at length. The call completed, he started another. Both he and the driver seemed tied to their phones for an unusual amount of time. Of course, I didn’t understand a word, yet it occurred to me something might be up. I can pull a rabbit out of any hat, real or imaginary.

Our bus pulled over to the curb and Robert announced he had to leave. The driver would take us to the restaurant, he said. He gave no explanation, but it wasn’t hard to see he was upset. Sue and I looked at each other. We couldn’t see any of the other’s reactions in front or behind us.

IMG_0241

Heavy traffic surrounded us. After Robert hopped off, we drove on for a short distance still in the inside lane. Vehicles crawled bumper to bumper. Another bus slowed next to ours. Sue and I sat on the left of the aisle watching through the window. I squeezed my eyes shut as a bicyclist, with no room to spare, whizzed by between our two buses. I almost had a heart attack.

The other bus moved on. We remained stock-still in the curb lane. Traffic rolled past. I thought the young fellow on the bike might have caused an accident. Traffic shifted moving past, yet our bus waited immobile. Why? By now, the whole group craned necks and raised eyebrows around the seats at each other. We noticed together, a car parked in front of the bus. Another five minutes or so dragged past. What could be happening? A man in a construction vest walked up to the car’s driver window brandishing his arms. I had no idea the car had an occupant. No translation was required. Move now he indicated. Nothing changed. A 20-something Chinese guy in black pants and a white shirt appeared at the side of the bus. The door flew open and he jumped in. The door slammed shut and I don’t recall any words exchanged with the driver. The parked car inched forward. Our bus did as well.

IMG_0243

In minutes, we turned into a driveway and a man, who might have been Security or Police, stepped in front of the bus. He waved his arms and shouted through the windshield and looked as if he wanted to push the bus back. What was going on? Words passed between the man outside and our driver or between the driver and the new passenger who hadn’t taken a seat. Too much going on to follow. The uniform vanished. The bus door opened again and the young man jumped out signaling for us to follow. I felt like a lamb on the way to heaven’s gate or maybe hell’s? All were silent, heads bowed as we passed through an alley and a maze of cars and another lot into a restaurant. I flashed my Travel Tour ID towards an approaching waitress. She led us to Table 6 which displayed our tour group name.

One of our group noticed the young man worked as a waiter there. The picture became clear. This had been an orchestrated event. Before Robert rushed off, either he or the driver had pre-arranged for our escort. The driver had stalled until the black pants and white shirt found us. The driver couldn’t leave the bus to walk us to our destination since there wasn’t room to bring the bus closer. I don’t even know if he spoke English. What teamwork!

By the time dinner finished, and we fidgeted, wondering about our return to the hotel, Robert showed up as if nothing had happened. He looked much better than when he’d dashed off. His voice, I noticed, was still a little odd. At least to me, his reason for the sudden disappearance was suspect.

“I had to see about my next tour,” he said to our obvious curiosity.

 IMG_0249

Dinner:

  • Soup with fresh chopped tomatoes
  • Rice
  • Shrimp with egg and green peppers
  • Corn with lima beans and carrots
  • Sweet and sour chicken balls
  • French fries (surprise)
  • Chicken with fungus and green peppers
  • Green leaf vegetable like spinach but not
  • Chopped mushrooms and green peppers
  • Eggplant, light spice

We returned to the hotel around 8:30 p.m. I picked up my laptop from the room and returned to the lobby for free WiFi access. I had trouble and asked the guy at reception for help. He looked at the list available and pointed to one, even though the words weren’t in Chinese. “Maybe, this one?” His choice didn’t work. He shrugged. I went off on my own, but soon became frustrated and worn out. I wanted nothing more than my bed. I gave up on e-mail.

Finally day's end

Finally day’s end. This is how my brain felt as well. 

Next on March 3rd: Beijing Part 8: Pearl Stores and Summer Palace

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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