How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE


Cruising the Yangtze, Part 1

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

My apologies for the scarcity of photos in this post.

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

Image Courtesy of RJ, Early morning mist

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

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

Breakfast

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

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

Click HERE to read about the Battle_of_Red_Cliffs

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

Click HERE for images of red+cliffs ruins in Chibi

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

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

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

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

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

Image courtesy of RJ. This boat is a mystery.

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

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

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

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

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

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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.


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Ferry to Labrador

Luggage outside the door and breakfast at 8:00 a.m. Leave hotel at 9:00 to catch the ferry 30 minutes later.

Silly me. After breakfast, I told sister Mary we needn’t rush as bus boarding wasn’t until 9:30. At 9:01, the hotel phone rang. Everyone was on the bus. Waiting. What? We rushed out and I kept apologizing. Some eye-rolling commenced, but everyone seemed good-natured about it. I cast my eyes to the floor, praying for it to open and swallow me whole.

To give us all a different perspective from the bus, Francis moved our seating two rows forward each day. The wife of one couple, sitting across the aisle, began a tirade that the practice had stopped. She was wrong, and this was only day four. My first mistake was not ignoring her. I was reading after all. The second one was nodding (though non-committal), hoping the conversation was over. I turned back to my book. She called the guide, who explained he did move names every day, but she didn’t understand. He stayed calm and finally walked back to his seat.

IMG_1578

We arrived at the ferry in good time to board, bus and all. A hatch like a car hood yawned open and Shawn drove us inside. The holding area was already half-filled with vehicles. Francis led us up three flights to a wide, empty center, large enough for a big dance party. Facing the huge expanse of windows, bar-type tables and chairs hugged the perimeter

For health and safety reasons, an announcement came over the intercom advising the location of rafts and life jackets. I didn’t understand the rushed message. Deep water and the talk about it gave me the chills. The engines hummed. They became louder. We watched the door through which the vehicles had entered, descend and close like jaws on a shark.  I felt the ferry floor vibrate beneath my feet. We crossed from Newfoundland to Labrador across the Strait_of_Belle_Isle. The distance is only about nine or ten miles, but the ferry doesn’t travel in a straight line. The crossing took about an hour and can take up to ninety minutes.

Someone heard about a school of dolphins and fish. We raced to the poop deck, but all we accomplished was a sharp slap of freezing wind in the face when I opened the door. Also no whales. This tour had been added after the close of the tour season because the travel company had such an overflow of tourists interested in making this trip. No whales. No puffins and no lobsters. All gone. Moved off. We’d come too late to Newfoundland.

Upon arrival, our group was called to gather by the Information Desk for disembarking. The stairs were narrow and a fellow passenger with a cane in front of us tried hurrying. Mary warned him to take his time. I was shocked to see cars parked with a hair’s breadth between them. It didn’t take long for the cars in front of our bus to drive off and allow our exit. There wasn’t room to slide a sheet of paper between our bus and the car beside and in front of it. Shawn inched the bus back to open the passenger door. He barely squeezed inside himself.

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WE arrived on a strip of Quebec and drove through L’Anse aux Clair (cove of life), the road traffic moved at a crawl. Here you can change your watch back to Newfoundland from Quebec time. Fog rolled off the St. Lawrence, thick and soupy.

Today’s Chuckle:

A taxi driver picked up a nun. She noticed him watching in the rearview mirror after she got into the back seat. “Is something bothering you, my son?”

“I’m sorry, Sister. I’d rather not say.”

“Go on. I may be a nun, but I’ve heard a lot of things in my time.”

“I’ve had this fantasy, Sister, my whole life, of kissing a nun.”

“That’s alright, son. I can oblige, but I have two conditions. You must be Catholic and unmarried.

“I’m both of those, Sister.”

“Pull in there son.” She pointed to an alley.

Ten minutes later, they came out. The nun noticed the driver crying. “What is it, my son?”

“I lied, sister. I’m not Catholic; I’m Jewish and I’m married.”

“That’s alright, my son. I’m Kevin, and I’m going to a Halloween party.”

Next on February 12th: L’Anse Amour

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles.

For more related posts, click on Newfoundland / Labrador tab at the top of the page.


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Tailspin

Tired of waiting, I paced from the front room to the kitchen. Hurry up, Ma. What’s taking so long?

I pulled the curtain aside. Franco and Smitty raced up and down the dusty road. Anxious to join them, I gazed over my shoulder at the kitchen wall. The long arm on the cuckoo clock crept one tentative lurch at a time. I slumped into a chair again. Ma!

My baby sister, Caterina, stacked and whacked her blocks on the sloping linoleum. She jabbered baby talk, drool sliding down her chubby chin and onto her chest. I peered at the clock again. Tick. Tock. My chair creaked; I couldn’t sit still. A hint of last night’s spaghetti sauce and Ciabatta bread still hung in the air.

Urgent fists pounded on the front door. The baby’s jaw shot up. She clutched a red block in mid-air. With heart thumping and ears burning, I raced to see who it might be.

Mrs. Fournier, from across the road, shifted from foot to foot on the veranda, clasping and unclasping her reddened hands. A bleached cotton headscarf, worn in the bandana style, covered her hair as always. I didn’t know if she even had hair. Her face chalk white, she chewed on her bottom lip. “Excusez-moi…Maman, Rosalia?”

“Shopping. She’ll be home soon. What, Mrs. Fournier?”

“Téléphone—not worry, mon enfant, you only eight—où…?”

“At the P&G, I think. You want me to find her?”

Non—Oui!” She nodded, head bobbing like a tethered balloon. “Vous allez. Rapide.” She clapped her hands like a school teacher.

“I can run fast, Mrs. Fournier. You look after Caterina?” I pointed to the baby, grabbed my sweater and ripped across the lawn. Telephone. Never good news. Where would Ma go first?

 A few minutes later, my lungs burned and my side pinched. Pebbles from the gravel road attacked my bare calves. A penny loafer flew off. I staggered and pitched forward onto the sharp stones, sprang up and shoved my foot back inside. My scraped hands burned. I rounded the corner and tore up the concrete sidewalk on Godfrey Street, the main street in town.

Mrs. Kowalski and Mrs. MacDonald blocked my way. They regarded me with interest as I danced around them.

“You need to use the bathroom, dear?” Mrs. MacDonald stooped over me as far as her arthritic back would allow.

“No. I’m looking for Ma. Did you see her in the P&G maybe?”

“Yes, Rosalia, she’s there.”

“Saturday busy. Everything is okay?” Mrs. Kowalski the nosey one asked, her eyes sharp and probing as a crow’s.

“Thank you. Bye.” I rushed up the sidewalk to the end of the block, through P&G’s door and smack into Ma in line to pay. She swerved against the supporting pillar beside her. The carpetbag partially-full of groceries, swung at her side. The edge of the wooden handles collided with my hip.

“Ma, Mrs. Fournier says come home quick. She’s home with Caterina.”

“What is it, Rosalia?” My mother’s eyes, bright a moment before, faded and her face took on the washed out color of our neighbour’s kerchief.

“I don’t know. She said telephone. You think it’s about Daddy?”

“Excuse. Excuse.” Ma pushed her way to the counter and grabbed the checkout lady’s forearm. “You take, Giselle.” She heaved the cloth bag, handles clacking, to the cashier. “I come later pay.  Go home now.” Customers who’d moved back to make room, patted her back and shoulders. Smitty’s mother was one of them. Lips pinched tight, she closed her eyes and nodded.

I clutched Ma’s hand; we rushed through the door. People stepped out of the way. I tugged her arm all the way home for three endless blocks, her body stiff as the Tin Man. I peeked at her face. I hoped the news wasn’t bad. “Come on Ma. We’re almost home.” Lips moving without sound, she stared straight ahead.

I dropped her hand and sprinted ahead up the stairs to open the door. Ma staggered in behind me. Mrs. Fournier grabbed her arm as soon as we crossed the threshold. The bedroom door slammed in my face. I hunched forward with my ear to the door.

 

End of Part 1

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #167

100wcgu-72

It’s that time again. Check the link below to join in:

https://jfb57.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week167/

The prompt this week is the photo below (What are they saying?)

Julia Word Challenge 167

NO TATTLE, NO TALE

 Ralph gripped the railing. “We can’t ignore this.” He rubbernecked the close passers-by.

“I retire in a week.”

“Listen to yourself? Who are you?”

“It’s been one hitch after another.” Bill scrubbed his forehead. “This mall is jinxed.”

“What about public safety? You’re the chief engineer.”

“I’m dog-tired.” Bill shoved the clipboard towards his subordinate.

“Think of your legacy. The crack is widening—”

“Too late for me.” Bill’s voice faltered like coarse sandpaper.

“What?”

“I’ll be dead in a month.”

“Come again?”

“You handle it.” Hands in his pockets, Bill trudged away, back almost straight.

“How, Billy? Come back.”

 

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess and How the Cookie Crumbles


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On the Yangtze, Day 16, Part 6 (Shibaczhai Pagoda)

We woke at 6:25, dressed without showering and headed for early breakfast. After the cancelled excursions the past two days, I noticed passengers appeared antsy to go on the Shibaozhai trip, scheduled for 7:45 a.m., weather permitting. No cancellation was announced at breakfast. By the time we arrived in our rooms, a reminder blared over the PA to anyone leaving the ship to pick up a ship’s pass. The tour was on.

or

Shibaozhai Pagoda Images

Sue proceeded to take a shower after breakfast as I plopped into the chair at the desk. The outing hadn’t interested me because of the damp drizzle with or without an umbrella.

My heart stopped. I glanced out the balcony doors and gulped. A ship coasted towards us and I knew we were going to crash. I leaped to my feet. I don’t know why. Not unlike a pillar of cement, I froze poker straight expecting the inevitable crash. We were going to die and there was nothing to do about it.

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

The drifting stopped mere inches away. How did they do that? Everything trickled rain: the balcony floor, the railings and chairs. I read the name on the side: President Cruise. It was smaller than ours, old and rusty. Curtains hung haphazardly missing hooks on rods. Clothes lines strung with laundry crisscrossed inside the rooms so close I could have reached across and pulled them off—maybe not quite—but too close for comfort. The Chinese passengers who came out on the back deck (the poop deck, I think) to see what was happening didn’t appear well-off.

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

A third ship moved alongside the second one, bigger than both of us: the Century Emerald. It drew closer and closer. The curtains pulled back, windows on the main deck revealed a fancy dining-room featuring round tables draped with milk-white cloths and bright yellow chair covers featuring bows on the back. The third ship floated towards the one between us. I waited for the crunch. It didn’t come. I watched a female cleaner (maid?) wipe down the railings on one of the balconies. What a hard worker, but why bother with this useless task?

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

The fumes were suffocating and the engines noisy even through the closed door.

The Chinese boat moved away in the opposite direction. Once again I held my breath as the Century Emerald inched towards us so close I could almost touch their balcony railings if I stepped out and leaned forward. A few curious international passengers on the Emerald watched us for a while. I wondered which of us were watchers watching the watchers. Soon, they returned to their rooms and closed the curtains. Maybe we weren’t that interesting.

The temperature in our room reached a high of 24, the highest since we boarded. I opened our curtains and doors again for fresh air, but not for long. The noisy engines were deafening. Why run them? Weren’t we anchored? The ships remained side-by side like strangers on a first date.

Sue lay on the bed reading with her swollen feet up on the headboard (actually the mirror above it). She’d suspected the moveable bubble above her toes might be blood. If she’d had a needle, she’d have drawn out the liquid. I suggested she see the ship’s doctor, but she refused.

Twice in ten minutes, Housekeeping came to make up our room. We offered to do it ourselves, but that wasn’t allowed. I noticed I’d become lazy since we boarded. What’s wrong with some down time after all the running around we did the first eight or nine days after our arrival in China?

A Captain’s Bridge Tour was announced over the PA, but I felt too lazy to move. Maybe I was still feeling the effects of our near crash. A different language presentation was scheduled every quarter hour from 10:00 to 11:15 in French, English, Chinese, Spanish and German—not specifically in that order. The interruptions soon became a nuisance.

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Next on January 23rd: On the Yangtze Day 16, Part 7 (Ghost City and Stairway to Hell) + More

For more related posts, click on China tab at the top of the page

© 2015 All Right Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie


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On the Yangtze River: Day 13, Part 1

(Sorry, no photos for this post)

I awoke at 5:50. Outside, the weather looked dull and overcast and / or foggy—not smog, I hoped.   I called it misty because we were on the water after all. The previous night, we’d set sail around 10:00 p.m., but were stationary when Sue and I went to breakfast.

Sue had played with the alarm clock the night before, not sure if it would work. It buzzed at 6:20 a.m., exactly as she’d set it, but we were already up.

The shower tiny, but efficient, had a rounded, two-door closure, one shoved toward the other till they met in the center. If I hadn’t been forced in front of this seam blocking water like a shield, the floor would have been drenched. I’m pleased to report the water was hot.

 

BREAKFAST

We went to the Early Bird breakfast (7:00 – 7:30 a.m.) for the free coffee and arrived at 6:55. It was pleasant to linger over three coffees and sweet rolls.

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

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

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

Images of Red Cliffs Ruins in Chibi

https://www.google.ca/search?q=red+cliffs,+images+of+ruins&rlz=1C1EODB_enCA562CA564&espv=2&biw=1093&bih=514&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=z3eLVJXOJJegyASA0IHoCQ&ved=0CCoQsAQ

While I enjoyed some lazy time sitting on the balcony, the maid came in to make up the room. I told her she didn’t need to, we would. No. She had to do it. After making the beds, she’d gone into the bathroom and came right out again. “One towel and one face cloth missing.” Eyes wide, her hands and voice trembled. I almost laughed aloud.

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

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

“Maybe next time,” I said even as I had no intention on following through with my lie. I unrolled my Tees and handed over the towel and face cloth.

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

Lots of rusting barges and tugboats transported coal, sand, and gravel. I couldn’t imagine anyone fishing in this river. Would they? A blue ship with three white decks passed by. Automobiles took up every square inch of deck space. I can’t recall what make the cars were, though.

After Sue left, an alarm went off. An announcement over the PA advised this was a fire drill, but to stay in our cabins. The drill was cancelled a while later, and I decided to go to Reception to use the Internet.

The second floor was chock full of crew members wearing life-jackets over gorgeous blue uniforms. It appeared a health and safety meeting was in progress. A handsome, thirty-something man in a navy uniform (the only one with gold braiding on the cuffs and outfitted with a life-jacket as well), stood aside to allow me past. Face hot, I plodded through the other end of the same group again as I burned my way to Reception.

 

Next on December 19, On the Yangtze River, Day 13, Part 2 (

For more related posts, click on China tab at the top of the page

© 2014 All Right Reserved TAK


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Shanghai: Day 12, Part 1 – Flight to Wuhan

We had a leisurely breakfast with nothing on the schedule for the morning. Although a five-star, our hotel was situated too far from the Bund and the waterfront attractions for wandering around on our own.

Sue walked around the neighborhood and bought a pair of shoes. RJ and his wife went out and explored as well. Lots of real life to discover behind the scenes after all. I stayed behind, caught up on e-mail and repacked my suitcase, which had become heavier.

The poor live on one side of the street and the better off on the other:

As we traveled by bus to our lunch destination, I caught sight of a duo hanging off a skyscraper washing windows. You read that correctly: no scaffolding only a rope to secure them from falling as they swung in the wind. What kind of Health and Safety rules are there for workers I wondered?

Chinese saying:

Red lights are a suggestion; crosswalks are just a decoration.

Crosswalks and lights are ignored and no-one is ticketed for not stopping for pedestrians. Jaywalkers cross in the middle of traffic or at crosswalks, proceeding no matter what the suggestion or decoration. Two hundred people are killed a day in China due to traffic accidents.

Quick Facts:

  • Population in China: 1.3 billion
  • Beijing: 20 million (capital)
  • Shanghai: 23 million

We arrived too early for lunch at a moored ship—Sea Palace Floating Restaurant—and were the only patrons. The waitress might have put on a less stern face. She led us to a table where we waited longer than usual for our meal. Until this occurrence, once seated the food arrived within minutes. I looked around, we chatted and took advantage of the Happy House.

All tables had seating for ten. Down the length of the ship, I counted 10 tables in each row, times four rows across. As we finished eating, I noticed the restaurant had begun to fill up in earnest.

Lunch:

  • Baby bok choy
  • Breaded white fish
  • Chicken with green and red peppers
  • Onions and pineapple
  • Mystery soup
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Beef with red and green peppers and onions
  • Sweet and sour chicken with red and green peppers
  • Curried chicken and potatoes with red and green peppers White rice
  • Watermelon slices

When  food is left over, we wondered more than once what’s done with the remains. Were they thrown out like in North America? I’d always been under the impression that the Chinese wasted nothing.

After lunch we drove to Shanghai Pudong International Airport to catch China Southern, a domestic flight at 15:55. According to our trip schedule, this was supposed to have been a morning flight. Check-in was smooth this time. None in our group were pulled over for additional security check(s).

WiFi and a charging station stared at me at our boarding area. I tried to logon to the internet but couldn’t switch from Chinese to English, the only language greyed out in the list. I wanted to check if my daughter had answered the morning’s e-mail. This ticked me off a bit: handy but untouchable with 55 minutes to kill before boarding for a two-hour flight.

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A Special Treat:

 RJ continues to share photos. His wife Bonnie sent me this link. Prepare to be mesmerized. Make sure you have your heart medicine handy. Grab a drink and put your feet up.

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Next on November 28, Wuhan, Day 12, Part 2 – Cruise Ship

For more related posts, click on China tab at the top of the page

© 2014 All Right Reserved TAK