How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


North to Alaska: A-Hiking We Will Go

To be fair, I should include what little I know about this Vancouver hiking group. Friends added friends and the group expanded due to similar interests and bonding.  All my family has met them on several occasions during our visits to see sister, Jean. Warmer and more generous people I have never met.

They invited me to what?

A hiking we will go © Jon Nightingale

Towering, impossibly straight trees framed our path and filtered penetrating May sunlight through new leaves and branches. The clean scent of fresh air, cedar, ferns, fir trees, and dry dirt in our path path greeted all comers. Now and again, birds twittered, but quiet reigned except for the odd low-keyed conversation. Other hikers passed in both directions. Heaven.


The path began more or less three-people wide on the level gravel-covered ground. At times, we stood aside for other passers-by. A small incline rose up and up till I was breathless and heaving. Was I out of shape or what?

The majority of the seasoned hikers slogged ahead at a brisk pace compared to sisters Jean and Mary, Liz, and me. Jean suggested we slow our pace as we needn’t keep up with the others. The going became rough: stair-like ascent over roots and stones for footholds. Where the trees grew thicker, the roots were wet and the hiking trail muddy and water-soaked. Treacherous doesn’t describe it. Unsteady, I kept my balance—just. Was I up for this?

I can. I can. I can. © Jon Nightingale

I worried how we’d get back to the parking lot though we hadn’t gone half-way, which happened at Jug Island Beach.

Jean and others pulled out snacks and water. Mary ripped off shoes and socks to cool off ankle-deep at water’s edge. The cool temperature discouraged swimmers—still too early in the season. Logs, rocks, and sand offered seating for all who chose to relax or catch their breath. We four arrived much later than the rest of the group.

Though I had a sneaking suspicion, I had to ask. “How do we get back?”

“Same way you came.”

Blast. Back over the wood stairs, rough stairs of dirt and stones, both minus handrails. Going down was easier than going up and I made it. Liz joined the rest of the group as we three sisters stayed together on our return. Whether altitude or lack of sleep, Jean asked permission to help when my legs refused to maneuver a tricky spot while on my hunches. Yes, she pushed me there.

At one point, Mary noticed we were in unfamiliar territory. We’d wandered off the trail. Funny about the timing. Jean and I gazed around, struck with the same thought. Seeing no other hikers for several minutes was daunting.

We shared our misadventure with a couple with an obedient Doberman, with whom we crossed paths. They confirmed we were back on track.

A man from our group passed by, who had made a last minute dash to the facilities following picture-taking. We were gone when he came out. Having no idea which trail we’d chosen first, he struck out on his own. Rotten luck. Alone, he made record time and now passed us on his second trail in.

A parking lot peeked through the trees, but which one was it? Passing hikers pointed to the curve in our path, which snaked to the road across from the lot we needed. Neither of us had a clear recollection of crossing the road at the start of the hike.

Decision made we’d ditch the second hike, we found Ralph had scored the last picnic table for return hikers. The sodden grass squished beneath our runners as we squelched our way toward him. At times, our shoes sank low past the soles. Canadian geese ambled about as if they owned the park, children laughed and hollered and ran. Tense parents kept an eye on them while unpacking picnic lunches.

The sun bright and weather spring-like, a chill breeze ruffled our hair. Grateful for a place to sit, I dropped to the bench. Jean suggested Mary and I snooze in the SUV till the second round of hikers returned. Though tired, closing my gritty and burning eyes was enough. I could not sleep.

I came alive when talk of lunch at a pub surfaced through the half-open SUV window. I’d lost all track of time but my tummy had not.

~ * ~

Next on February 23rd – North to Alaska: The Peoples’ Path and more

© 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

I’m Late. I’m Late.

Meant to drop in early today but my granddaughter’s home sick from school. It’s amazing how busy a little person keeps you. On top of that, we had a whack of a snowfall and I haven’t had time to shovel yet. Brr. Don’t you love winter? It keeps on giving. And giving. Groundhog Day soon.

You may have scratched your head after Friday’s post, proposing a new direction: North to Alaska. I shall try regular Friday output—I will try. I cannot say when I’ll come back full time. I’ve had cataract surgery a while back; one of my problems is my laptop screen and I don’t like each other. Ditto for reading.

Last spring I joined a writers’ group because I‘m having a difficult time scribbling anything new and hoped a group experience would motivate me. Nope. I continue to dabble in old stuff, which isn’t a bad thing, but still, I wish I’d have become more productive by now. Too much screen time is overwhelming, though so I shall take time.

Thank you for hanging in with me and your continued reading. I do miss the camaraderie, and your smiling faces in the blogosphere. Your kind support does my heart good.  XX

Hong Kong View-a-Thon, Part 3

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

We’d seen all we could at Tin Hau Temple. Sue and I headed to the bus parked in front of a Seven-Eleven Variety Store. We decided, as did the rest of our group, to buy water. A cashier managed to keep up with the brisk business, while another worker (or owner) kept an eye on the crowd. The store appeared to stock anything you can imagine: groceries, wine, water, and clothes.

Soon, almost everyone took his or her seat but someone was still missing. Hurry up and wait. We did wait. And wait. And wait. No explanations were given, at least not to the English Group 8. Finally, the French crowd cheered and the last couple hopped on, to loud and boisterous guffaws. The story: the husband, goofing around—whether on purpose or by accident—sent his wife into the water and of course, she was soaked through. The bus couldn’t turn back to the hotel just for her. Would you believe she bought pants and a top at the Seven-Eleven? I have no idea where she changed.

Next stop: Stanley Market. I managed to go through the paces once we were dropped off into scorching temperatures and no trees. Jewelry kiosks were plentiful, but the earrings I found weren’t to my liking. Why did dollar stores in Canada carry such fabulous Made in China earrings, but after I’d traveled all this way found nothing to compare? I did buy one pair for a souvenir, but they cost too much—five times more than in Canada—and the chandelier type already out of fashion at home.

Stanley Market

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

Some tourists avoided shopping by visiting the Stanley Waterfront. I wish I had known about it as I expect it might have been cooler by the water. I’m not overly fond of shopping and anyway, the same products and trinkets came up time and again, especially T-shirts and shawls (Pashminas).

We trudged up an incline, squeezing into the shade of anything available until the tour guide appeared to take us to the bus.

Quick Facts:

  • Japanese occupied Hong Kong in the 1940s
  • A city with lots of convenient washrooms
  • Cross-Harbour Tunnel opened in 1972
  • Cranes and constructions everywhere
  • 12 days a year paid holidays
  • Financial district in a central area
  • Education free from age 6 to 18
  • Lots of private schools for ages 6 to 15, but expensive
  • Great public facilities for young people: swimming
  • Cinemas available but people prefer big TV screens at home
  • One child per couple not applicable in Hong Kong
  • Writing is the same in Cantonese and Chinese but sound different
  • Taoism not a religion but a way of life
  • Population 7.2 million
  • Total land area 1100 square km. (426 square miles)
  • Lots of tunnels
  • Hong Kong means Fragrant Harbour
  • It is the Pearl of the Orient
  • Visas available for visitors who come just to shop
  • No tax in Hong Kong

Only a small group signed up for a boat ride to Aberdeen, an old-fashioned fishing village, which still exists in the midst of modern high rises. Tired, thoughts of home hovered in the back of my mind and I looked forward to going home. I didn’t join in the boat ride but caught up with a group who walked around the town. At one point the ladies needed the Happy House and begged relief at a fancy hotel along our way. Later, we passed a grocery store where I bought a bottle of (Dynasty or maybe Great Wall) wine for 49 Hong Kong dollars (around $8.00 Cdn.).

~ * ~

Next on January 19th – Hong Kong, What a Throng: Part 4

© 2018 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 but hope to visit here before the end of the month. Many, many thanks for your supportive reading, re-blogging, and tweeting. Your continued follows are immensely appreciated.  XX


M-e-r-r-y Christmas to YOU.

Christmas, Lights, Decoration, Holiday

At this festive time of year, I thank each and every blogger who has ever stopped to read and/or share my posts, especially through my current absence. There are many special friends I’ve made whom I miss and especially our delightful discussions and exchanges. Blogland is open 24/7; the people are real as real can be, friendly, and encouraging. Your support buoys up my spirits. Thank you for your generous support in the past year.

May you store up stimulating memories with family and friends during this time of goodwill and good cheer, a time for sharing and laughter, good food and spiced or spiked drinks to keep you warm (or not).

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas…promise me, (and a Hap-Hap-Happy New Year).

Published on Nov 26, 2017

From Michael Bublé’s 2012 Christmas special.

On to Hong Kong. Ding Dong.

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

We walked and I gaped. I’m sure I stuck out like a greenhorn tourist (not that I’m not). A jewelry store displaying sparkling diamonds drew my attention. I leaned in for a closer look and banged my forehead on the window. Ouch. The glass was solid as a brick wall and felt as thick. The interior lights bright, the glass gave the impression of absence. I felt stupid and hoped no-one had noticed. Why would anyone notice? There were all sorts of more interesting people around with bigger things on their minds. I couldn’t believe how young the fashionably-dressed, Asian women hanging on to boyfriends’ or husbands’ arms were. No shortage of Daddy’s money. Sigh. I don’t know why I assumed they weren’t young marrieds, but who knows?

Posted by:  ConnectedTraveler

One last look: Night Pictures in Macau

Worn out by all the excitement of our new day, a bed and pillow beckoned soon after supper. Before turning in, I noted another bathroom story. While I ran the sink tap, it didn’t sound right. I turned off the water; I turned it on again. The bathtub drain gurgled up water. I could not hear water going down the sink drain. Let me explain the layout. The foot of the tub was tucked lengthwise into the left corner and the sink and cabinet were perpendicular at the foot, like an upside-down L, the tub being the long end. A glass-doored shower shared a wall with the faucet end of the tub. Would you call that fancy plumbing? I can’t figure it out either. The biggest hotel in the world. Hm.

When I asked Sue about it, she hadn’t noticed the situation but wondered why the tub was wet with water, which neither of us had used yet. Nice. What’s the reason North American hotels don’t have a 13th floor? Oh! It’s not because of the plumbing?

 * * *

Wakeup call buzzed at 7:30 a.m., on Saturday, Day 22. Luggage had to be downstairs near the reception area by 8:15. Sue and I weren’t comfortable with this as a zillion people moved in and out around the nearby elevators and the casino. The bellboy assured us he’d stand guard until our suitcases were transferred to the bus.

Steam coming out of the chimneys early morning before leaving for H.K.

Upon arrival at the ferry terminal, we lined up and were given numbered tickets. We had to fill out Hong Kong immigration forms while on board the Cotal Jet Ferry. It was a deep blue fearsome machine and looked like an army tank on water. Walking past, at about a third of its length, I changed my mind. It looked more like a plane. Inside the layout wasn’t unlike an airplane: 3-seat rows x 18 seats long x 5 sections across (270 passengers from my rough count). The ride was smooth as silk; quiet as a hydrofoil, but that’s my guesswork. I’ve never had the experience before.

Our ticket said next departure at 10:30, but it felt like hours before we finally were allowed inside and took off. The trip took about an hour. Water sprayed the ferry as we flew across the black water into the misty weather.

More Images Cotal Jet Ferry

Muted T.V. screens were turned on in front of every row. The seats were supplied with belts no-one used. If there were rules, I saw no signs, nor did anyone come around to suggest the necessity of their use.

Upon arrival, we passed through roped off aisles with a zillion other people. I considered the process would take forever. I was wrong. After the experience in Macau, everything was so Chinese and foreign again. We craned our necks and gawked at expensive wines on display before the exit, but there was no opportunity or invitation to buy any at the duty-free.

Welcome to downtown Hong Kong

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

Next on December 29:  Hong Kong. Hang On! (with lots of pictures)

© 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 supportive reading, reblogging, and tweeting. I DO appreciate your kind and continued follows far beyond my inadequate words.


Zhahai to Magnetic Macau

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

I’m not sure when the bus switched to the left side of the road. I blinked as vehicles passed alongside on the wrong side. This was a huge surprise and a shock. First unexpected palm trees and then

First agenda item: a bus tour of the Macau. We gawked like children, at least I did and cannot say exactly how everyone else reacted. Cameras clicked in such rapid succession, it sounded as if a bomb might go off. We’d arrived at The Monte Carlo of Asia, the Las Vegas of the East.

Lunch Buffet:

Salad fixings

  • Red cabbage
  • Romaine
  • Baby corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Cukes
  • Chickpeas
  • Italian dressing


  • Baked Ox Tongue with creamy cream cheese
  • Roasted Chicken with chili and white wine
  • Red kidney beans stewed with pork
  • Fish Fillet with beer batter
  • Sautéed mixed vegetables
  • Spaghetti with tomato sauce
  • Rotini with red pepper sauce
  • Fried rice Chinese style
  • Steamed white rice
  • Japanese Pork Curry
  • Pizza
  • Buns
  • Congee
  • Chocolate cake
  • Pound cake
  • Red Bean Pudding
  • Stewed pear in red wine
  • Finger sandwiches
  • Cold cuts (2 kinds)
  • Potato salad
  • Pork
  • Sardines, Portuguese style
  • Coffee, tea, water. Can’t recall if there was beer. (Maybe to order?)

(I couldn’t read several scribbled items due to my rushed handwriting)

The driver dropped us off in front of the Fireworks Factory. A new local guide, Cheryl, met us. Our luggage was taken off and sent ahead to our hotel as we scurried behind the guide in the opposite direction.

© 2015Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

© 2015Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

Up a hill, we followed the flag-carrying guide lost on the outside parameters of the French group. Next stop: Old Macau (a little history).

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Macau Quick Facts

  • 75% income comes from the casinos
  • Gambling allowed only in Macau, nowhere else in China
  • 29 million visitors to casinos in 2013
  • Run by Chief Executive (must be Chinese, local person, and local citizenship)
  • Runs for five-year term, only re-elected once
  • Only power of Parliament is bigger than Chief Executive
  • Can vote from 18-years of age
  • Port-based laws: have own police, laws, money, postage stamps
  • Is visa-free
  • Has three bridges
  • Status of Macau now 440 years
  • Macau Flower
  • Home of Macau Grand Prix. Circuit is like Monte Carlo (3.7 miles)
  • Macau Old Garrison
  • Watch your belongings. This is a tourist city.
  • Narrow streets
  • Comprised of two islands 29.5 square km

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  • Before 1993, only 17.3 square km. Close to doubled now.
  • Language: Chinese (Cantonese).
  • Portuguese almost never spoken anymore
  • Schools teach Chinese, not Portuguese
  • Portuguese (about 2% of population) are Catholic, need children to be baptized
  • Chinese prefer to send children to Chinese schools and keep their own religion
  • Three major religions: Buddhist, Taoist, and Catholic

Video by: MichaelRogge

* * *

Next time on December 15th – Holy Cow! So this is Macau.

© 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 supportive reading, reblogging, and tweeting. I DO appreciate your kind and continued follows far beyond my inadequate words.

Zhongshan to Lollygagging in Zhuhai

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

The day began with a wake-up call at 6:08 a.m.

Breakfast was outstanding! The best one so far. It’s as if they had pulled out all the stops. We weren’t just tourists, but special visitors.


  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon slices cut in the shape of cleavers
  • Sliced dragon fruit (first time on any buffet so far)
  • A wide selection of rolls, white and whole wheat
  • Whole apples, pears and baby papaya (lots and lots)
  • Six various dry breakfast cereal + milk
  • Three kinds prepackaged yogurt
  • A cheese plate, including blue cheese and gouda (first time this trip)
  • Five kinds of jam, including pineapple (Gosh, they were good.)
  • Peanut butter
  • Bacon, and chicken and beef sausages
  • Eggs boiled and sunny-side up
  • Romaine lettuce and fixings for salad
  • A whole section for hot food: rice, green vegetables, baked beans etc.
  • Coffee and tea replenished as soon as empty (all other hotels we refilled our own)

The service had been the best thus far as well.

We held back until the French Group was seated on the bus. I expect each of them had staked out his and her seat from the beginning. The worry it might be crowded, since the French group had huge carry-ons, soon evaporated. This was a 48-seat bus, but the overheads weren’t tall enough for my square overnight bag. Two seats across the aisle from Sue and I were empty. Soon we stashed our paraphernalia on them to keep the seats company.

The bus had left the hotel at 7:50 a.m. and the tour guide was still talking French at 8:37 a.m. Some of our group understood French. I managed with a little guesswork but missed most of the content. It occurred to me,  most information shared with the tour guide’s original group would likely be in French. We were outnumbered, after all. He made attempts to include the English speakers but the translations were much abbreviated.

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved

Lots of green spaces along the roadway: trees, shrubs, flowers; everything trim and neat. Gorgeous boulevards in Zhuhai. A water truck in the inside lane supplied water for the plants. Banyan trees  (small leaves and wispy beards hanging from branches) shaded one side of the road and palm trees decorated the other. I wasn’t certain where we were until the Fisher Girl statue came into view, and kept forgetting we were even in China. I blamed it on the palm trees and the presence of so many Caucasians


                                                                    © 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved

The bus stopped at tourist trinket shops around 9:15. The ladies lined up for the Happy House before heading down to the water to view the famous Fisher Girl and learn about her story. The highway we crossed to walk there was a danger to our safety: four busy lanes with fast traffic.

More Images of Fisher Girl

It has been unusual to see beggars or anyone with disabilities. I have where and when we had seen a few. My guess is they are well hidden and not allowed around well-beaten (tourist) paths. I couldn’t resist taking this fellow’s picture. When he realized what I’d done, he yelled at me but we walked on in a desperate hurry.

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved

Time for shopping and lollygagging over, I felt our group held back again as if we were the forgotten branch of the family. Don’t get me wrong, our fellow travelers were friendly and polite and yes, they spoke English a lot better than I managed French. Next stop, mysterious Macau at last.

~ * ~

Next on December 8th:  Zhuhai to Magnetic Macau

© 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 supportive reading, reblogging, and tweeting. I DO appreciate your kind and continued follows far beyond my inadequate words.


Guilin: Elephant Trunk Park

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

I can’t recall when our bus changed from a 12-passenger to a full sized for our tiny group of eight. (Yangshuo or Guilin?) Honest. A full-sized bus! Made us feel special I suppose. After lunch, we headed to Elephant Trunk Park. It was a good day for a slow walk around but soon became boring as we stayed longer than we needed. This time, Chinese girls took a particular liking to Ernesto and begged to be photographed with him. By now we knew they like to have pictures taken with the foreigners.

Quick Facts:                           

  • Guilin is not a big city: population only about 1 Million
  • Guilin has 2 rivers and 4 lakes
  • International football academy is here
  • Known for strawberries and Calamondin (I think). They look like tiny oranges)
  • Lots of foreigners have come to Guilin since 1980
  • Plenty of open spaces / large parks (pay fee) and small ones (free)
  • Many nurseries along the highway/lots of peach trees
  • 90% who come, like it
  • The River Li divides the city into east and west
  • Taxi costs 10 Yuan anywhere (about $1.66 USD)
  • Garbage is collected every single day
  • Biggest pollution from cars and factories, not from garbage
  • Recycling done carefully
  • Some garbage incinerated
  • Government provides rat poison if required
  • Rats not a problem in the city
  • In the countryside, rats are still eaten
  • Welfare for people who cannot work, but a tiny amount
  • Chinese Welfare Lottery is illegal but people buy tickets
  • Selling lottery tickets only allowed if portion goes to social/charity endeavors
  • Ticket sellers probably give just enough to stay under the radar
  • Income taxes: 5% for regular people / 10% for the rich
  • No land taxes because you don’t own the land, but must pay to renew 70-year lease
  • Farmers trust their wells because it’s free
  • Wells do not get tested at all
  • Water supplied by government/cost per amount used like in Canada

After the park, we finally unloaded our luggage and checked out the new hotel. My apologies for the fuzzy pictures. The girl is from a particular ethnic minority, but I’m not sure which one. Our guide was no help.

More Quick Facts

  • Banyan Trees
  • Streets edged by Camphor trees (smell nice and keep bugs away)
  • Cannot make money in this city
  • Government pays to keep out pollution and manufacturing
© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (hotel courtyard)


  • Ying and Yang soup (egg white and green tea for design)
  • Dumplings
  • Panko dipped spring rolls
  • Soy and chili sauces for dipping
  • Carp with celery, water chestnuts, and cucumber
  • Celery, water chestnuts, and pearl onions
  • 3 large (pork balls surrounded by sliced cucumber (center uncooked)
  • battered and spiraled eggplant
  • Batter-dipped chestnuts, deep-fried
  • White rice
  • Orange wedges in skins
© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (The soup)

Our dinner restaurant had many rooms for patrons. The waitress wore something like Bluetooth technology and carried on a conversation with someone as she delivered food. The farther south we went, the angrier the conversations sounded.

Someone cut a piece from one (of three) of the huge pork balls for a taste. The next person cut through the center, revealing raw pork. We all looked at each other. What to do? Finally, the waitress came back serving a nearby table. We waved her over and explained about the raw meat. She continued her funning conversation in the sphere and stopped long enough to inform us it was not raw. She picked up a fork and mashed the pork ball till it flattened. “Is okay.  Is okay. Is okay.” Her voice escalated until it sounded like yelling (maybe scolding). Smacking down the fork, she left in a huff. Needless to say, no-one touched the pork.

No doubt about it, the pace has slowed from the initial fast pace 19 days before.

~ * ~

Next on November 3rd. Flight to 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 reading. I DO appreciate your kind and continued support more than I can express. Please bear with me.


Yangshuo to River Li

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

After breakfast, the bus driver headed through the Yangshuo countryside to the Li River.

Quick Facts

  • Yangshuo is known for pomelo and persimmon trees
  • Smoking and drinking the hardest vices to control
  • Cigarettes very cheap: as low as $1:00 per pack
  • 90% of men smoke
  • Restaurants have ‘No Smoking’ signs but cannot enforce (afraid to lose customers)
  • Cigarettes bring in taxes (so no smoking not yet imposed)
  • Phoenix Tail Bamboo is used to make clothes and underwear, softer than cotton

More Quick Facts

  • Chinese people are never quiet; always talking about everything around them
  • They cook and eat dog here, using lots of spices to flavor the meat (i.e. orange peel)
  • People in the country don’t like their pictures taken because you are stealing their spirit (shorten their lives)
  • Don’t like pictures taken of babies, especially, but sometimes, they will charge money (?)
  • Because of tourists, the locals make a good life
  • Vegetable stands everywhere tourists pass
  • Homegrown vegetables + rice, fruit
  • Countryside littered with paper and garbage until you reach the city


At the concert the previous night, no-one clapped, no-one shut-up; everyone had a camera taking pictures and videos. A sea of cameras lit up the dark like candles throughout the audience. What a sight.

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All land is owned by the government. If you want to build a house, you must apply to the Village Committee (like a village government) and apply to lease the land for 70 years. Sometimes, you can renew the lease and pass your house, apartment, condo or especially farms, until the government has other plans for the land your family has lived on for hundreds of years.

We stopped at an old farmhouse along the way to the River Li for our cruise. Here a Caucasian tourist tries out the old-fashioned broom.

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                 © 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Down a country road, lined with stands of food and trinkets for sale, we followed Lily, our guide. The people stared at us and we tried not to stare back. Our cruise boat was old and rusty, run by locals and not what I’d call clean. No health and safety issues here. The gangplank had wood rot (holes in it) and I stepped carefully. We sat topside instead of inside on old wooden chairs (and a couple new benches) as the weather was co-operative. The locals must earn a living any way they can. Of course, there were trinkets inside for tourists as well as soft drinks.

We were about 25 tourists onboard. One woman with her son and daughter and another mother with her daughter (all in early teens) and a couple families of flip-flop-clad Australians with six youngsters between six and 14 were all onboard. I felt in good company in my flip-flops. No way could I have worn runners. My feet at this point felt broken.

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We passed water buffalo on the shore and for the first time, noticed countryside litter: plastic bags and empty cigarette packages. Electrical towers were seen in the weirdest places, in the middle of nowhere, but most farmers still live in the old ways. They have a well, but no plumbing.

Winter (January / February) is not good for tourists. It is too cold and there is no heating system here. One must sleep in a coat. On the other hand, summer is hot and humid and the opposite around July. Another drawback, the water level is high on the River Li and not good for water travel because it is too fast and dangerous.

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River Cruise Additional Links:

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Next on October 6th: More Yangshuo on to Guilin

© 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 but when is the question. Thank you for reading. I DO appreciate your kind and continued support more than I can express.