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


Hong Kong. Hang On: Part 1

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

To reach Hong Kong Island, we traveled through Cross Harbor Tunnel which is more than 1.5 kilometers long and underwater. Yes, all that water overhead played with my mind too.

Quick Facts:

  • Easter weekend, a four-day public holiday (Good Friday to Easter Monday)
  • Good time for citizens to travel to other countries and to China.
  • Public workers, hotel workers must work.
  • Service industries; all stories are open
  • Office workers get holiday
  • Students have two-week school holiday
  • The tallest building here turned out to be our 118-story L’Hotel Nina Tower
  • Factories used to populate this area but have been moved to China

Zeelo, the new local guide, met us after we had been processed where we’d seen the duty-free wine but had no opportunity to buy. He also took care of our hotel registration. Meanwhile, Clovis, the French guide, took an extraordinarily long time explaining in French how to get around during our free time for the rest of the day. Some guides don’t talk close enough to the mic and others, like this one, talked too close. I found him difficult to understand.

Impatient, someone in our group raised a hand. “Why do you spend so much time explaining to the French? What about us?”

When he finished, Clovis apologized and began again in English about the subway system and how to get to the Victoria Harbor Light Show and what shopping was available. Sue burned to hear about opportunities within walking distance of the hotel and asked lots of questions about shopping. Our room keys ready, Sue and I and RJ and his wife, dragged our luggage to the elevator. They invited us to see the Light Show with them later. I accepted.

No sooner had we entered our room on the 30th floor and rolled the luggage inside, Sue made ready to go exploring. Was I coming? No. I needed my feet up and quiet for a while. Anyway, I waited for the phone call to join RJ and his wife to see the dancing lights.

With no (paid) lunch on our schedule, I had two Fibre bars, drank water and relaxed. I expected we’d go out for dinner somewhere at the harbor. I wandered down to the lobby for wifi to contact my daughter. A couple workstations were provided but they were in use. Lucky I brought my own laptop. I had trouble connecting to the internet but asked a desk clerk for help and success!

Four Main Parts of Hong Kong:

  • Hong Kong Island: means fragrant harbor or port (former British City)
  • Kowloon (means nine dragons)
  • New Territories
  • Outlying Islands

RJ, his wife, and I walked a short distance to catch the subway to see the Symphony of Lights in Kowloon. Signs were in English and Chinese. To buy a ticket for the subway, a machine I’d compare to an ATM, is available at intervals. You choose your destination on a touch screen map, are instructed the cost, feed in the money and out pops a ticket. You then swipe the ticket on entry and turn it in on exit. The wait wasn’t long, street signs were displayed everywhere. We arrived without incident. While in the subway, I noticed women didn’t have iPhones, only men, and the younger generation boys.

We passed bands and singers dressed to the T’s as we strolled down to the Avenue of Stars. Soon throngs of spectators hemmed us in, mostly Chinese.

As soon as someone moved and/or space opened up beside me, it was immediately filled. I don’t like crowds at the best of time and certainly not in a foreign country. A little elbow room keeps me happy. Dusk fell quickly. A disappointment, the show lasted only about fifteen minutes, but I wondered about the electrical bill for all those lights. The show goes on every night since 2004.

© 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 up January 5th: Hong Kong, Come Along: Part 2

© 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.

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

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

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

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

 © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

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

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

 © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

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

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

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

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

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

Warrior Wannabe

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

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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


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

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

Xian Quick Facts:

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

~* ~

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

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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


Beijing Part 9: Olympic Park

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

The Olympic Park

The Olympic grounds had been built on razed farmland. We were told all the displaced farmers had been given jobs and a better apartment than the farmhouses they’d lived in. Everyone’s happy; a win-win.

To get to the entrance of the Park, a busy four-lane highway had to be negotiated by foot. The bus had been parked on the other side. Although busy, the hazards of crossing presented less chance of being run over than in the midst of the city if you timed your jaunt.

At long last, we were free to wander the grounds. I found our time there boring, however. The sun smirked overhead. Paved walkways, expansive stone-tiled, and bricked thoroughfare stretched miles ahead, too bright and stripped of any shade. Thank goodness for hats and sunglasses. It felt a clear day and I noticed no smog to date.  (published Feb. 2014, 2.53 min)

or  (published May 2014, 9.45 min)

Notice the tents with trinkets for visitors. In the background is the 25-story IBM building (in the shape of Olympic torch)

Notice the tents with trinkets for visitors. In the background is the 25-story IBM building (in the shape of Olympic torch)

 I recall hawkers in the open and sellers of tourist knick-knacks in stall, after stall, after stall, along one side of the center road. These were actually white tents four or five feet wide with a flap raised on some as a sunshade. At intervals, empty stretches separated one cluster from another. The disappointment lay in discovering they all carried the same products! Every one.

One of the last ones, a larger tent, provided a digital photo opportunity for a mock emperor and concubine, or possibly his queen. Ernesto and Lorena, known for their carefree style, donned the costumes provided and had their royal photo taken. One size fit all as the ‘costumes’ tied in the back like hospital gowns.

Another frustration: no open exhibits.

As we left the Park, the ladies inquired about washrooms. Somebody spied one and pointed. “No, you won’t like that one,” Robert said. “See there? That’s a good one.” We’d heard a similar declaration several times now. I wondered in what way it might be different and not to our liking.

The Birds Nest National Statdium

                                                         The Birds Nest National Stadium

No matter what was served at any of our meals, I would never starve. It struck me, though, lunch and dinner dishes were quite similar, with lots of repeats. Time will tell.

Lunch was served at a restaurant not far from Olympic Village. From where we sat, I saw back-to-back orange hoods / like half pods or huge footballers’ helmets and wondered what they were. Phone booths. Say what? Two by two they appeared on the sidewalk, back to back, closer than girlfriends. Migrants and low-income workers use these Public Phone Booths.

Notice the water glasses, which vary in size from restaurant to restaurant

             Notice the water glasses, which vary in size from restaurant to restaurant. 


  • White rice
  • Tea (always hot and ready)
  • Pork meatballs
  • Chicken with cabbage and carrots
  • Kung Pow chicken
  • Rice (with duck meat)
  • Deep fried pork
  • Cucumbers with chicken
  • Deep fried battered fish
  • Egg drop soup
  • Sliced watermelon for dessert

Some Quick Facts about Telephones:

  • Everyone has a cell phone, sometimes two
  • Use text message vs. phone because it’s cheaper
  • Use’ You Chat’ a lot
  • Two providers: China Mobile and China Unicom
  • Phone fee 200 Yuan per month or $40


  • Apartment rent 2 bedrooms: $1,000 per month (all USD)
  • Condo rent good location: $1,600 per month (depending on that location)
  • Condos, 2-bedroom, 1,000 square meters, 1 toilet
  • Condos cost $6,000 per square meter
  • 1,000 metres = $600,000 per condo
  • A house and garage, minimum price 30,000,000 Yuan or FIVE million U.S. dollars

Up Next on March 17: Beijing Part 10: The Hutong

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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


Beijing, Part 6: The Great Wall


Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

I ate too much again at the buffet-style breakfast. We English 8 met in the main lobby at 8:30 a.m., then traveled an hour or so by mini tour bus to the mysterious Great Wall.

A few facts about the Wall:

  • Sticky rice soup and mortar were used to glue the bricks together
  • Started -200 BC
  • Has been worked for over 2,000 years
  • Bullet holes from last battle still evident
  • Needs expensive maintenance due to time and tourism
Some shops

                                                                              A few shops

What a happening place. Tour buses clogged available parking space. Small shops galore offered touristy goods for sale, from postcards to fridge magnets, hot tea, cold drinks and all sorts of knick-knacks. One, a department store type business, carried everything you might imagine. Would you pay $39 USD for a T-shirt or $25 for a kid-sized one? Would you pay six or seven dollars for a two-inch square fridge magnet? They also carried silk, jade, pearls, life-size Terracotta warrior replicas and furniture. Prices included shipping. For the life of me, I couldn’t sort out the prices aside from the shipping costs out of curiosity.

Approaching the Wall Steps

                                                                Approaching the Wall Steps

We left the tourist traps behind and headed uphill to the entrance of the Great Wall. We saved shopping time for later. The walk was steep. We rubbed elbows with people from all over the world (figuratively).  You don’t dare touch anyone. A light drizzle began and Sue and I escaped inside a battlement. Inside and out we meandered. Hordes and throngs of people stared at us everywhere. Our English Group 8 wandered off in different directions with an agreed on time to meet at the large department store halfway down the hill.

Looking ahead

                                                                            Looking ahead

Carolyn lost her camera on the Great Wall. She’d taken off her coat due to overheating and left it on a ledge and walked away. Ten minutes later, she realized it was missing. Dreading it would be gone, she and her husband retraced their steps anyway. Had it been me, I would have cracked under the stress and gone into shock. Forget going back to be heartbroken.

A Steady Climb

                                                                       A Steady Climb



When Robert heard the story, he insisted on checking if the camera had been turned in. What were the chances of such luck?  He knew who to ask and was informed an announcement had been made over the Great Wall loudspeakers about ten times regarding the camera. A security guard had picked it up and turned it in. Each of us rejoiced as if it had been our own camera. Carolyn glowed.

 Higher Now

                                                               Higher Now

At Ground Level Again. Most of these women are over 80, I'm sure, but energetic as 20-year-olds.

At ground level again: most of these women are over 80, I’m sure, but energetic as 20-year-olds.

Beijing driving and cars:

  • Rush hour is all day long, not at any specified times
  • Driving restrictions by last two digits of license number / odd vs even
  • Penalty for ignoring, sometimes 100 points
  • Drivers have 12 points per year
  • If you lose your points for the year, you must redo license.
  • If caught driving drunk, or even after 1 glass of wine or beer, can lose license forever
  • 3 million more cars since the Olympics
  • Cost of a car (i.e. Hyundai), $10,000 each, manufactured in China
  • An Elantra in 2005, cost $25,000 U.S.D.
  • Lots of new models now because more citizen able to afford cars
  • They like German models
  • Gasoline 7.8 Yuan per liter, about $1.30
I'm still standing

                                                                      I’m still standing

~ *~

Next on February 24th – Beijing, Part 7: Ming Tombs

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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



Is it Real, or is it a Memory?

Hello bloggers, near and far; dear and dearer. I am alive. Yes, this summer is almost over and already sliding into memory. I meant to visit you right after Labor Day, but was sidetracked—I needed to catch my breath. Whew.

The best part is the kids are back in school. Life should get back to normal, whatever that is. I flipped my daily schedule upside down: work first and play later. This means blogging will not happen until the latter part of the day. I cannot be trusted on social media for an hour or two at a time. Twelve hours disappear before I even notice. Poof, the day is lost and I’m wiped. I wonder how long this setup will last. It’s failed before, but I must try.

No, the trees aren't changing yet. This is from last October

No, our trees aren’t changing yet. This is from last October

I managed to do some of what I’d planned this summer and even some I had not. The bottom line is I needed a break from my break. Yeah, I’m a wuss—a shock to me too. Oh, oh. Do I see you rolling your eyes?

I still have a mountain of unread books on my dining-room table, which hasn’t shrunk by much. Sigh. It will take a little time to work my way back and I may not manage to be quite as vigilant as before. I have missed so much of what’s been happening in Blogland and all of you, of course. I feel like a stranger. I will never manage a catch up, but I am on my way back. I hope there’s still a place for me at the coffee table.

Here’s a link I came across this morning. Fits me like a slinky dress. Some of you too, right?

Hugs all around. Mwah.

See you next Friday?


Corner Brook, Newfoundland

The bus dropped us, the last of the new arrivals at Glynmill Inn, a white and green Tudor Style building. Our accommodations were pleasant, old world and tasteful. We had a sitting-room, a fridge, a bar sink and coffee maker, but no safe; a bedroom in another room and a bathroom. Though a small suite, the beds were heaven, but the pillows too plump for sleeping—at least for me.


Food wasn’t supplied for this night. A boiled egg before leaving home and a homemade sandwich at the airport while we waited for the flight made for empty tummies. Francis, our guide, had explained where to find restaurants on West Street, the main street in town. We had enough choices and were disappointed the business area seemed miniscule. Along the way we passed two Chinese eateries, one closed until further notice, and a third tiny one. Other offerings were a pizza takeout; Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC); a yogurt place; Tim Hortons Coffee shop, and a wine-making outfit. As well close by were an A&W burger place, Shopper’s Drug Mart and an Esso Gas Station. A whimsical white building tucked back from the street drew our attention: a catering business with a café attached and a couple tables with chairs.

This statue and plaques were in front of some government buildings along the way.

We settled for Chinese, but should have listened to a couple we passed (from our tour group) coming back from dinner. One order would have been enough between us. What a waste, but we weren’t hungry anymore.

I'm the wind-blown looker in purple. Oh yeah, and my sister.

I’m the wind-blown looker in purple. Oh yeah, and my sister.

I have a question. Why do many Chinese restaurants have washroom facilities at the Exit sign, down a long flight of stairs and longer hallway? They always give me the creeps. One may well meet an unsavory customer in this bowel of the earth.

Friday night and on vacation, we had to find a liquor store. After dinner Mary accosted approached a woman unloading her car in front of the catering establishment.

“What is it you want?” She pointed to the Esso Gas Station. “You can buy beer at all gas stations, but wine only in a liquor store.”

“Is there one within walking distance? We don’t have a car.”

She pointed to a tall building in the distance where we’d find a mall and a liquor store next to it.

Behind the inn, stairs led a long way down to the water’s edge. With time to kill and the improvement in weather, my sister and I decided to explore the walking trails and maybe find our way to the tall landmark on the hill and a bottle of wine.

Long stairs to the water’s edge (The Humber River).IMG_1446

Our target: the tall white building (our landmark).


The path is long, but the way is scenic.


Feathered friends enjoy the water.


A bridge to cross.


Intent on our goal, we crossed the bridge and met a fork in the road. Which way? Another walker, a smiling young lady came towards us. I suppose we looked lost or out of place. She was from Australia, but knew Corner Brook. “Not this way. You want to go there.” She pointed in the opposite direction.

“But the white building in that way.”

“Trust me.”

Quick Facts:

  • Corner Brook population about 20,000
  • 1986 First sighting of coyote in Newfoundland (but they don’t chase moose)
  • Newfoundland Pony has unique DNA
  • 1997 declared Heritage Breed of Newfoundland and Labrador

Next on October 16:  Don’t Panic. A Walk to Remember

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

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


Seductive Newfoundland

Hi all. I’m back and how I have missed you.

I can’t believe it’s over: the spectacular coastlines, colorful seaside villages, and miles of empty highways and dense forests. The elusive moose hid and the whales and puffins had already moved on, but the stark grace of Newfoundland and its friendly people has worked its magic on me.


I know our trip wasn’t international—only Canada’s east coast—yet I feel as beat up as the Newfoundland Ugly stick.

Credit:  Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism

The people work hard and play harder as evidenced by their music. Do they know how to have a snappy foot-tapping good time! Seems all Newfoundlanders play an instrument or two, even as some hold down two or three jobs at a time.

I’m not sick after this trip, but ache all over and have been sleeping long and deep since my return home. Appointments, car insurance payments, driver’s license and plate license renewals have forced me out of bed. Am I falling apart in pieces? Say it isn’t so.

I prefer to clap my hands instead and enjoy an ‘Appy tune this Friday .

Buddy Wassisname (is you Appy?)   Credit:  boom4975

~ * ~

My blogging schedule will change this fall. I still hope to post on Tuesdays and Friday trip reports as before, but may be absent now and again, and may not read nor respond as in the past. Please bear with me.

I’m having trouble posting. The toolbar at the top of the page is spastic and keeps disappearing. Any tips how to overcome this?

~ * ~

Check out next Newfoundland post on October 2nd.

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


On the Yangtze Day 16, Part 7: Ghost City and Stairway to Hell

I had never considered how precious a pen might be. I’d brought four with me and lost one. Almost out of ink, I began worrying what I’d do without one. I liked gel pens but had no idea they run out so fast. At home I’d pull another one out of my basket of dozens. Why hadn’t I brought more?



Cauliflower (lemon flavoured); red kidney beans and chick peas; fruit salad (with bananas, ugh); spicy red leaves (yum); tendons of beef mutton; mixed 5 kind of bean salad

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


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


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

* * *

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

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

Heaven Hill under Construction

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

Look waayy up! Model of Temple of Hell.

Model Temple of Hell

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

Too many groups crowded around their guides, some with megaphones. It was too noisy and congested. I gave up listening.

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

At one point I saw no-one and heard only birdsong and my runners thump against the asphalt, then, another set of footfalls clunked behind me. My heart in my throat, I stopped to pretend-fix my laces and caught sight of a man fiddling with his camera. I wasted no time hoofing forward till I went around a bend in the road and saw people milling around. As well, I came upon a disfigured man, lying on the ground begging. This was my second experience since Shanghai.

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

Outnumbered thousands to one, I found myself surrounded by Chinese tourists and the loud chatter of Chinese voices. Taking a deep breath, I approached the closest open mini-bus and said the name of our ship with a dramatic question mark attached. The driver nodded. Everyone stared. We waited to fill two more seats and proceeded to the top of more stairs. The driver stopped, I jumped out and booted it down the stairs, down the long walkway to another dark semi-enclosed market where everyone gaped. At least that’s how it felt. I noticed guys eating noodles, bottles of wine on offer (drat), lots of soft drinks, beer cases, and other food stuffs.

Hot and sticky, all I wanted was a shower and to cool off. I’m surprised my legs held me upright after all the stairs I’d scaled in the past couple hours. Aha. I forgot how we’d left for the excursion. I was guided the same way back through two, or was it three, ships anchored side-by-side.

After a quick shower, I went out on the balcony for some air. An almost breeze teased me. Smoking in the state rooms wasn’t allowed and alarms were installed in the ceiling. Puffing outside was okay. Tourists hanging out over their balconies sent smoke clouds and some of the smell settled in our room.

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie

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

Tonight is our last night on the cruise ship. Time to dress up for a fancy Captain’s Farewell Dinner.

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

After dinner we paid up our chits and packed our bags, which were deposited in the main lobby. A new adventure awaited the next day.

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Additional links:

This link gives brief blurbs about the various ghosts.

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

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Next time on January 30, Chongquin, Day 17, Part 1 (Flight to Guilin)

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

© 2015 All Right Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie


100-Word Challenge for Grownups – Week #157

To join in, click below

This week’s prompt is and so it begins… +100 words



Tom kicked the night table. “Lousy life.” The lamp crashed to the floor, yanked back by its cord. “Time for new coordinates.” He grabbed the whiskey bottle before it tipped. The neck tight in his fist, he guzzled the last mouthful and slammed it on the dresser.

His head snapped at the urgent fist on the door.

That your car on fire?”

Outgrown hair shoved aside, Tom snatched his knapsack and dashed to the bathroom window. Sweat streamed from every orifice. “Come-on, come-on.” He grunted and heaved.

The front door exploded.

Tom bolted.

And so it begins again. The Witness Protection Plan doesn’t work.


© 2014 TAK