How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


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North to Alaska: Bet You Don’t Know These Quick Facts!

Wish we hadn’t missed the city tour bus to the Skagway Gold Rush Cemetery. A store clerk mentioned it too late and we were already bone tired. I don’t visit graveyards as a rule, but historical ones are intriguing. An interesting character popped up when I did a little research on my iPad later. Read about Jeff “Soapy” Smith here.

Read about the Slide Cemetery and the Pioneer Cemetery here.

Mary and I knew Mother’s Day would fall during our cruise but booked our holiday anyway. Like mothers everywhere, we deserved a special treat since we were away from home and family. The Lido Market, where most of our meals had been eaten buffet-style, ran short of lobster tails, the main event on the menu. Guests were asking for two and three tails at a time. Our turn came and only one tail was available. We’d have to wait. My dander up a touch, I grabbed Mary’s arm and we skedaddled in search of fine dining—the Rotterdam (again)—for our celebration dinner. After all, we had dolled up for festivity. Though there were other restaurants to choose from, we liked this one and knew where to find it.

Again asked if we’d accept sitting with others, we agreed. On my left, an Australian couple: she a teacher turned calligrapher and her husband, a pediatric physician, deaf in one ear since age five.

To Mary’s right, sat a 20-something single woman with limited food preference or on a special diet, who had pre-ordered a personal size veggie pizza. The couple next to her came from England, the husband originated from Australia. I did not talk to his wife because she sat too far away across the huge, round table. She was deep in conversation with a 50-ish woman and her father from the States. Grin. United Nations of sorts.

I ordered the Surf & Turf (a lobster tail and filet mignon). The waiter offered to cut the lobster out of the shell for all the females. O-h-h. Is this service or what? I splurged on a glass of divine Cabernet. I never eat dessert but had black coffee instead, which tasted scrumptious. Why was it worlds apart from the type served at Lido Market buffet? Were we still on the same ship? Unbelievable.

Filled to the brim with food and wonderful conversation following a long and leisurely dinner, we vetoed any activity other than shoes off, feet up, and thoughts of bed.

Earlier in the day before we glammed up

Bet You Didn’t Know: 

  • 1916 Dr. William Skinner Cooper, founding father of ecology
  • Also founding father of Glacier Bay
  • 1925 Glacier Bay declared a national monument with help from President Calvin Coolidge
  • World Heritage Site
  • Second largest wilderness site in the world
  • Majority of visitors arrive by cruise ships
  • 7 tidewater glaciers found here
  • Carbon Monoxide off the scale more than any other place
  • Carbon dioxide makes seas acidic, bad in cold waters like here
  • National Park Service: study climate change in our own lives
  • Fastest glacier retreat (melting) since 1850 (a sign of global warming)
  • Evaluation of warming atmosphere is a warming ocean
  • 43 countries have scientific study about heating up, locked in heat, rising water
  • Sea levels rising here
  • Home to moose, wolves, black, brown, and Grizzly bears, orcas, humpback whales, otters, dolphins, and salmon to mention a few
  • Example of John Hopkins Glacier: 1 mile wide by 12.5 miles long (a seal sanctuary)
  • John Hopkins Glacier still advancing (not reducing)

I’ve gathered a ton of information but don’t want to bore you. The above are a few highlights.

Images Glacial Bay

What is the difference between an iceberg and a glacier?

An iceberg is what breaks off (calves) a glacier and usually sits 10% above water.

Glaciers are a combo of snow and ice and collected junk/debris, and entirely above water.

~ *~

Next on June 1st – North to Alaska: Ketchikan Beckons

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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North to Alaska: Shopping, Saloons, and Beer

The open door of a large bar and grill is all Mary needed to take as an invitation to come inside for a sit and a tall one. A handful of thirsty patrons at scattered tables and at the bar looked up as we strolled in from the bright outdoors. Bottled domestic beer went for a reasonable $4.50 a bottle USD, whereas, draft sold for $6.00. We chose Denali Gold draft and sat at the bar. Mary sweet-talked the genial, young bartender into a glass of mixed nuts for munching. A handful more thirsty tourists wandered into the darkened interior. I hadn’t brought American dollars this trip, except for a credit card and wasn’t about to charge one glass. Thank goodness, Mary was flush with cash.

Rehydrated, we drifted into an interesting dress shop, or Mary did and I followed, but thank goodness, neither of us got caught up in trying on all the pretty clothes. American fashion is so much more attractive than what we’ve seen in Canada for years. We meandered from one store to another till we ended up in The Shirt Company where—true confession, don’t tell anyone—I weakened and picked up a couple shirts, postcards, socks, and Alaska fridge magnets for everyone back home. I hate shopping and have no idea what drove me to go all out like this. Maybe telling myself I’d never be this way again had something to do with my spending spree. When I’m good, I’m squeaky clean; when I’m bad, I’m terrible.

I have not found much about this interesting building called the Arctic Brotherhood Camp

Little foot traffic in Skagway and with the chilly but decent weather, we took lots of pictures.

We stepped into a saloon (and museum) not knowing what to expect. The patrons were wax figures as were all the props, food on the counter included. At first glance and a second later, we noticed they were still.

Interesting posters:

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Next, we stepped into the famous Red Onion Saloon

For dinner, we opted for a restaurant (The Rotterdam) on the ship instead of the grill and buffet we’d frequented. Seated at a table for 10, we had to wait till the table filled up before anyone would take our order though menus were handed out as we lowered into our chairs. A young blonde female vegan from South Dakota joined us. A couple from Australia and another couple from Calgary came along, but they were too far away across the wide table for a proper conversation.

Because it took a long time to finally order and eat, we were too late for the Magician’s show we’d been planning to see.

~ * ~

Next on May 18th – Inlets, Wilderness, and a Polar Bear Dip

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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North to Alaska: Snooping Around

We arrived late for lunch with no idea the buffet would be closing soon. No one blocking the food, I managed to take these pictures of various stations.

The buffet servers work eight months on the ship and return home for the remaining four.

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A boom-boom disturbance overhead disrupted after lunch coffee. No other patrons seemed worried or appeared to pay attention. A couple noticed my bewilderment and the man explained there was a basketball court overhead.

“You’re not pulling my leg?” Mary asked.

“I’ll bet my lunch that’s the sound of a bouncing basketball.”

Mary giggled. “You’ve no lunch to bet.”

The sun struggled to brighten the day but dark clouds had other ideas, thrusting it into the background. Huddled in our jacket collars, we jogged a couple laps around the promenade deck after lunch—three and a half laps = 1 mile. A biting wind forced us back inside. Had the weather cooperated, we would have logged a few miles more. We passed a few pairs of walkers, a meditating woman on a blanket (b-r-r), and another one practicing yoga. Three men in white overalls painted the outside deck walls. Phew. I gagged on the fumes, though we were outside. I wondered why none wore masks against the toxic vapors. Seems Health and Safety rules do not apply to painting with nautical paint. Or is this a non-issue since all the workers are from poor countries and nobody cares? Shame. Shame.

I had my heart set on a generous feed of fish and shrimp, but we were late arriving. The buffet had run out. More arrived after we’d finished a fish dinner and Mary scooped up a half dozen to share. I’ve only had shrimp that huge once when I purchased them for a New Year’s Eve dinner party years ago. Thank goodness, I hadn’t invited the neighborhood.

Tummies happy, we searched for advertised entertainment. The Hudson room offered a piano/violin duo and inviting deep chairs but the music didn’t suit our mood—too sedate.

Next, we discovered the duty-free store. A female employee in the jewelry area talked us into sticking around for a free draw in ten minutes. She tore off matching tickets: one for each of us and the twin for the bin. We figured with only a half-dozen participants, we had an excellent chance of winning something. Soon the employee hooked 50 or 60 male and female shoppers and those waiting for the piano bar to open. Ten minutes turned into a half-hour.

What a setup. The person with the winning number had 30 seconds to open as many boxes as they could manage in an effort to extract one containing a jewelry surprise. Soon, a couple of the ‘winners’ asked if there were indeed prizes as the first handful were not lucky. The employee threw the empty boxes back in the bin to encourage deeper digging. What felt like hours later, we left empty-handed and yawning. Six happy winners dispersed to the bar. The lounge singer behind a ¾ wall crooned for some time to clinking glasses and the murmur and hum of energetic conversation.

It had been a long day fighting bitter winds, moody clouds, and noxious paint fumes. The first full day surrounded by nothing but water and food drew to a close. I wished for my pillow to hasten our time of arrival in Juneau the following day.

~ * ~

Next on April 13th – North to Alaska: Yay!  Juneau Ahead

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


Hong Kong, What a Throng, Part 4

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

In Aberdeen, the ferry driver burned more stinky gas turning the boat (40 – 49 capacity) out of the parking slot at Tai Pak Marina than the amount it took to get to the floating Cantonese restaurant. I expected the restaurant to rock due to the rolling waves due to boat traffic, but it was rock solid firm. The huge open space hummed like a beehive and didn’t feel like a ship. The male servers wore microphones with coiled phone wire tucked behind their ear like secret servicemen in the movies. We’d heard Cantonese people like to eat out and this being Easter weekend proved it. Every table was filled. I counted 36 tables and each appeared to be set up for 10 guests. We were served on the third floor.

Lunch:

  • Sweet and sour sauce
  • Chili pepper sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Steamed shrimp in rice paper (rubbery)
  • Shrimp wontons
  • Steamed fish balls
  • Pork balls with cabbage (?) (tasty)
  • Steamed sweet dough wrapped pork (?)
  • Noodles with curry shrimp, green peppers, and egg
  • Fried rice with shrimp peas, corn and green onions on noodles with ginger
  • Jasmine tea
  • Coconut Jello (but not clear like Jello

This was a long affair from 12:55 to 2:10 p.m. When we arrived, we waited longer than usual for the food to arrive. Again, everyone in the restaurant had the same food. I thought I was smart when one of the ladies wanted more tea, but couldn’t catch the server’s attention. I lifted the teapot lid and replaced it at an angle, not snug into the opening. Another of our group waved the waiter down to ask for more tea and he showed her the same thing I had ‘invented’. Am I brilliant or what?! I have no clue how I came by this idea.

After lunch—what a treat—a surprise visit to Dynasty Jewelry Manufacturers in a-last-stab-effort to our lined tourist pockets. We English 8, too few to bother with, the presentation transpired in French only. Right. Though the jewelry was magnificent, who walks around with the kind of money for such purchases without forethought?  Bored and poor, though I’m attracted to sparkly things, I wandered around shadowed by a clerk who didn’t even pretend he wasn’t stalking me. After all that, I’m not sure anyone in the French Group purchased anything.

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

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

 

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

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

Next, we climbed a steep, serpentine road to Victoria Peak. I held my breath as another bus passed us traveling in the opposite direction, grateful we were in the inside lane. We passed breathless views for perfect picture-taking, but photo opportunities came and went. There wasn’t room to pull over and we’d likely be killed crossing the busy two-lane road. If we beat traffic, someone might fall over the edge. From the bus, the city gave the impression of a toy city.

Our destination: The Peak for picture taking and The Peak Galleria (the mall for shopping). We had to go inside and up escalators to the third floor, then outside to the extensive viewing platform for spectacular views of the city and Victoria Harbour. Because of the distance, my photos were small. With more time to kill, I checked out the mall. Actors dressed in rabbit costumes put on a show for shoppers’ children, this being Easter Saturday. I wandered into a drugstore and bought nail polish for our last dress-up dinner before heading home. Two tiny bottles (about half the size we usually see at home) cost a grand total of $2.00 total.

Quick Facts

  • 1,800 square foot = luxury apartment
  • Condos at Repulse Bay under $20,000 USD per month
  • Visiting Businessmen are put up in these type condos
  • Usual apartment rent around $1,300 USD
  • If cannot pay, government subsidises at $300 USD per month
  • Long wait to get subsidized apartment: 4 to 5 years
  • A car traveling to Hong Kong has two license plates: one for Hong Kong and one for China
  • No casino allowed in Hong Kong
  • If one travels to Macau, must return home 5:00 p.m. like from work
  • Hong Kong 93% Chinese + Pakistani Indian
  • Has 272 islands
  • West Hong Kong is new
  • Have many temples, mostly Taoist
  • 150,000 immigrants arrive every day

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

Dinner choices made by members of English Eight at an Italian restaurant (paid out of pocket):

  • Risotto
  • Pizza
  • Lamb
  • Fettucine Bolognese
  • Linguine with Clams
  • Octopus Ink sauce (for pasta)
  • Octopus Ink dinner rolls
  • W.i.n.e.

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

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

Additional information about Hong Kong:

Taken by Jacek Zarzycki

~ * ~

Next on January 26th – Packing Up and Homeward Bound

© 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


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.

 Breakfast

  • 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

IMG_0707

                                                                    © 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.

 


Checking out Guangzhou

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

We’d had enough of Goat Park and were antsy to leave. Helen, our guide, asked I take a picture of her on my iPad. I had no idea why. At the corner of the park where we were supposed to meet, a man fresh-squeezed and sold bottled orange juice. Next to him, a girl toasted acorns in a wok for about two minutes. Helen said they were acorns but I wonder if they weren’t chestnuts. This spot she chose for her photograph.

Then she asked me to email her the photo. I wasn’t set up for e-mail I explained. “Never mind,” she said face pinched and chin dropping. Why hadn’t she given me her cell to take the picture, and why take one at all?

Guangzhou Quick Facts

  • Known for silk, jade, porcelain, ceramics
  • Arts and crafts museum (in Chen_Clan_Ancestral_Hall)
  • Tea
  • Papercuts
  • Old furniture
  • Mostly Buddhist, with some Taoism and Catholic beliefs
  • Opened city to the world with Canton Tree Fair (also the-canton-fair)
  • Chen Family Dynasty gave donation to Chen-Clan-Academy
  • Chen Family gave money (the 1920s) for Chen Family Temple
  • Rice: 2 crops / year
  • Wheat: 1 winter crop (winter wheat)
  • Sun Yat-sen first president of China after 1911 Revolution
  • Died 1925 of liver cancer
  • Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall completed temple built in his name in 1931

Next on our agenda was the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall. 

Helen and the bus driver talked and talked and talked. Somehow it sounded like a family argument. Mr. Li, some 20+ years younger than Helen, chewed his lip more than once and kept his peace. He appeared ticked off over whatever Helen sounded angry about.

Carolyn and Jim moved from the front seat to the back of our full-sized bus because Helen and the driver were so loud. Lorena asked me if I thought it okay to tell them to keep it down. I had no idea, but I said I’d be hesitant as this was their country and we were the foreigners.

At the temple, we toured mostly the outside. This is a tourist trap. The same magnets, jade, embroidery, paintings, doohickeys, and doo-dads were plentiful and on display. One of our ladies bought something expensive and it appeared the tour guide was given a gift. Maybe yes or maybe no.

IMG_0675

 

A young woman, twenty-five or more (maybe less) insinuated herself into our group. She kept bumping into a number of us and me several times. The others in our group succeeded in ignoring her, but she made me uncomfortable because I don’t like anyone so close in my space. After she followed us into a couple of stores, I whispered in Lorena’s ear if she thought the girl a pick-pocket and like magic, the girl vanished.

Lunch

(13-course Cantonese Dim Sum)

  • Beef with tomatoes (not enough beef to go around the table)
  • Sweet and sour chicken
  • Celery / carrots / peanuts and pork
  • Fried rice with fried egg and green onions
  • Spring rolls (tasty but greasy)
  • Fried pork dumplings (looked raw / without taste)
  • Corn coup
  • Egg and chili pancake thing
  • Mushrooms in sauce and a green vegetable I couldn’t identify
  • Sprouts with green peppers, onions, and slivered carrots
  • Potatoes in kind of dough and dipped in sesame
  • Pineapple half-slices (white in color…hmm)
  • Fried cakes with caramel (cardboard texture)

The room we ate in had room for only four round tables. Ours had eight chairs and I assume each of the other tables did as well. We shared the room with the French group and always knew when they had arrived. Their guide always called out, Un. Deux. Trois. He pointed to the tables as if his people were children. Soon, the noise became deafening in the box of a room and I couldn’t wait for lunch to end.

On the bus again, the discussion at the front went on and on. Helen reached across the aisle for her purse at something beeping inside, took a quick glance at us, her passengers, and continued her loud and angry-sounding conversation with the driver.

~ * ~

Next time on November 17th: Guangzhou and on to Zhongshan

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

~ * ~

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

 


Flight to Guangzhou

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

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

Breakfast

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

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

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

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

Quick Facts

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

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

Guangzhou Quick Facts

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

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

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

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

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

~ * ~

Next on November 10th: Guangzhou

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

~ * ~

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


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)

Dinner:

  • 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.


					
		
	


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.


Beijing Part 11: Special Peking Duck Dinner

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

When the bus dropped us off, we stumbled to the restaurant down an alley and a weird sidewalk, up-heaved and unfinished, or maybe under construction. We entered a shopping mall and took the escalator to the second floor. The women wanted to look around and shop. We hadn’t been in a Chinese mall yet. Again, no time. I didn’t care about actual shopping, but I wanted to compare a mall in the east to what we knew at home. From our rushed escort, I’d say they are comparable.

Fancy caving of Peking Duck

                          Fancy carving of Peking Duck. Check out the wine glass on the table.

Our heads swiveled as we ascended, but Robert whisked the English 8 into the most upscale restaurant we’d been to so far. All the restaurants thus far wouldn’t be mistaken for anything but Chinese. Excepting the staff, we might have been anywhere in the world. Our table, tucked in a quiet corner with no other patrons around, put the idea into my head that we’d been bad. (small joke)

Asked for our drink preferences, glasses were blessed with a splash—my guess—an ounce of wine. (Proof positive: Don’t do this at home, kids. Today I ran a test. I measured an ounce of water and poured it into a similar glass. I was right. Sometimes I amaze me.)

Appetizers

  • Thin beef slices
  • Radish
  • Salad (didn’t write what kind)
  • Vegetables

As expert as a surgeon

                                                                    As expert as a surgeon

The opened bottle waited on the sideboard. All meals and tips were inclusive but not extra wine. At least when you buy a bottle of wine in a grocery store or liquor outlet, you can haggle over the price. You don’t ask the price of wine in a restaurant and then decide not to order. Right? What a group we are. No-one jumped to order another ounce of wine. Was it good? It wasn’t memorable.

The duck presented with a flourish was carved by an expert carver, every cut precise. We all tasted it but what a disappointment. We were embarrassed to leave so much uneaten. Okay, I’ll tell you why: it was dry and tough. My apologies to the chef. A buildup for nothing.

  • Rice
  • Beef and onion + red and green peppers for color
  • Sweet and Sour chicken (familiar, almost like home)
  • French fries and shrimp (yes, together)
  • Chinese cucumbers (the teeny tiny ones)
  • Chicken and tomatoes
  • Soup (a mystery kind)
  • Pulled duck meat and onions
  • Something like a tortilla for the duck meat

 IMG_0325

Wouldn’t you know, the one night we had an early evening, we ended up in a traffic jam but not for long. My feet were killing me but felt better than the previous day. These new shoes for which I paid mega bucks were comfortable but my feet perspired like fish in a steamer.

I needed bandages for the blisters. Couldn’t find the ones I KNOW I packed. Lucky for me we had a drugstore next to the small variety store on one side of the hotel. What an experience. Neither the druggist nor the cashier spoke English. I shook my head a lot and the druggist showed me a roll of gauze suitable for a bullet wound to the chest. Pantomime, hand signals and short of removing my shoes, we finally found regular bandages. Bows and wide smiles followed.

On my return to the hotel, I slipped into the variety store next door and for $3.00 U.S. bought a large can of Chinese beer–you know, to celebrate the bandages and yes, it hit the spot.

CCTV station in the background. Looks like a pair of pants.

                                  CCTV station in the background. Looks like a pair of pants.

 

Some Quick FACTS about WORK:

  • Average salary $1,000 per month in major cities / less in smaller ones
  • White collar workers $1,700 per month
  • Working for government, same salary but allows discounts for detergents, soap, condos,
  • Working for government has good healthcare and other benefits even if salary low
  • Late to work once, maybe twice, 3rd time you’re fired
  • Unemployment rate 4 – 5%
  • 70% of companies are privately owned
  • Big imbalance between the rich and poor
  • Lots of floating population from rural areas and outside the city try to move to Beijing
  • Both parents must work
  • Grandparents live close by and look after child while parents at work

Family:

NO matter how many young children we came across—not hordes—not once did any one of them flip out, scream, cry, cause any kind of fuss. How does that work here? As well, lots of grandfathers and young fathers interact with the young child. By far, most of the children have been boys.

  • Babysitter for newborn good paying / competitive job = $1,500 / month
  • Rather hire grandma/grandparents who live close to help with childcare
  • Maternity leave is 6 months with pay
  • Second child penalty 60,000 Yuan ($10,000)
  • Twins or triplets are considered one pregnancy and not penalized

~*~

Next on March 31, Luoyang Part 1: Domestic Flight

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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