How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE


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

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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.

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Out and About in St. John’s

The previous night we spent at Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland, built on the site of Fort William and the most luxurious of the trip. Our first night had been spent at Glynmill Inn, a much older but quaint establishment. A handful of magnificent east coast art decorated the walls in our room, even in the bathroom. The bellman who delivered our bags told my sister she better take care. He guessed her bag at capacity weight, if not already over.

It’s our second last day and the morning greeted us with angry, driving rain. Boarding the bus, we were introduced to our new driver, Pete, who informed us he’s waiting to get his license to drive this tour bus. What a joker. Shawn had left for Gander the night before to return our original bus.

Peter used to work in a paper-mill until five years ago when it shut down. He started our dreary day with this joke:

Sam went to heaven and was startled by all the clocks on the walls. Some moved slowly and some not at all. That’s St. Theresa’s clock; she never told a lie. That’s Abraham Lincolns…

Hey, where’s Stephen Harper’s clock? It’s in God’s office—used as a ceiling fan.

Newman and Company

  • English Winery
  • 1669 ships travelled to Portugal to pick up wine in barrels, returned to refine
  • Attacked by pirates, escaped
  • Escaped during storm
  • Made way to St. John’s. Could not return to England
  • Excavated caves 20 feet in solid rock to store wine
  • In spring, loaded on ship
  • When began to bottle, found wine superior
  • 1670 to late 1880 went to Portugal, returned with wine, stored in caves several years
  • Returned again to Portugal
  • During WWII, munitions stored in caves
  • Wine caves sealed now
  • Newman Wine Vaults

This is Mile “O” of the Trans-Canada_Highway, where Canada begins!

mile-0-st-johns

 

 I ran out in the pouring rain with a few other adventurous souls to take pictures of this mustard yellow building: Quidi Vidi Brewery. We were interesting in going inside, but it was closed. It would have been a treat to sample some of their famous brew. Not worth getting soaked to the skin but there you have it. I didn’t enjoy this day’s tour in the pelting rain. Lots of info given, but it came too fast and the photos were messy taken from the moving bus.

Terry Fox Monument

  • Moved to current location because people had trouble finding it
  • This is where he dipped his artificial foot into the Atlantic before he started

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St. John’s Quick Facts:

  • War Memorial Day in Newfoundland is July 1
  • Newfound dogs are mascots for War Memorial Days
  • The other Memorial Day is November 11th
  • Oldest wooden structure in St. Johns is Mallard Cottage, a restaurant attached to it
  • Penitentiary built 1859
  • 55,000 American troops stationed at Fort Pepperrell from WWII until the 1960s
  • Chimney Smoke Pots: If you see 6 – 8 on a roof, each leads to 6 – 8 open fireplaces

* * *

Next on October 14thSt. John’s, a University Town

© 2016 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

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


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Back to Newfoundland

The water on our return, wasn’t as glass smooth as the day before. It simmered and bubbled like a pot of soup left on the stove on medium instead of low. Progress wasn’t as choppy as I expected though. We chose a central location on the ferry, but the engine vibration penetrated through the floor, into my feet and to the top of my head. Not an experience I wanted to endure, we moved to the same area as the previous day and sat at the same streaked windows. The rounded metal frames and nails  / screws fastening it in place were corroded and unappealing, but efficient. The St. Lawrence Seaway, as all bodies of water, is not kind to boats on the water nor houses within spitting distance. Wood doesn’t have the strength or guts to stand up to the water’s abuse, which creeps into metal and stone as well as skin and bones like a live thing reminding you it has been here since the beginning of time and will continue after you are gone.

Back in Newfoundland again, our next stop: Broom Point where three Mudge brothers, their wives, and children fished from 1941 to 1975.

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Shaun, our driver, backed and backed into the Point forever. He had no alternative as there was no place to turn that huge bus around for our return. The road narrowed. As I watched, a deep drop over the edge drifted into view. I grabbed Mary and yanked her over to the window. Shaun made a correction. Gears grated. I held my breath. Mary and I stared at each other our last prayer on our lips. What a way to find out we had an excellent driver!

Barricades blocked vehicular travel from proceeding further. We walked a long way to the Point around puddles and wet gravel road. An ancient outhouse grinned as we passed. The wicked wind off the water, should have toppled it, if not this day, then long ago. I wish I’d taken a picture. I imagined bugs, spiders, and webs. Mary and another woman decided they couldn’t wait. No, I didn’t ask my sister how it was inside.

Seagulls screamed and the wind blew tantrums. Francis raised his voice and described how these traps work. Lobsters get in fine. Once inside, they end up in one of several narrow compartments and can’t figure out how to get out.

He had brought his iPad (the big one) and offered to take a group picture. Not satisfied with one, he took several and offered to email the best one to each of us, no charge.

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All pictured out and tired of the punishing wind, we were again on our way. An Irving gas station stop offered snacks and use of the facilities. Everything from hot pizza, blocks of cheese, candy, knives, tools, hammers, a multitude of snacks, and a cooler full of beer were available among too many products to mention.

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For a fee, we could have purchased tickets for an evening’s entertainment at the hotel bar, but we opted not to go. We decided on a movie and cracked open a bottle of wine. Mary ordered a pizza and salad at the front desk. The taste was a little different from the kind in Ontario but it did the job. We polished off the bottle, I crawled into bed, but Mary continued reading.

Three things I might mention about the room. The beds were lovely. There was no chain on the door, though it had a deadlock. The bathroom sported a tiny facet on a standard sink, the spout almost too short to be useful.

Giggle for today

My wife is such a grand cook. I bet she could fry a fart and make gravy.

* * *

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

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

Next on March 11th – Rosehips and the Good Ship


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Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas

Have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year;

Pockets full of money and a belly full or beer…or wine if you prefer.  

Can it be five days till Christmas already? I popped in to wish my special friends in Blog World a Merry Christmas, a fabulous holiday season, and a Hap-hap-happy New Year. Here’s an Oldie but Goldie for a sing-a-long to put you in the spirit of the season if you need a nudge. I do. We have no snow and it’s warmer than usual for December.

Credit:   ChristmasTimeTV

My granddaughter dressed my tree this year, and even put the lights on—her first time at not yet twelve—because I’ve had tendonitis for the past six months and needed help. She took it a little easy on the ornaments, but the results are a colossal success and I’m grateful she was willing. This means we’ll have less to take down before my trip to Vancouver three days after Christmas. (Can’t let the cats have too much fun while I’m away or maybe cut themselves on broken bulbs, though they’ve been good as long as I took away the tree skirt).

Do you know anyone born on New Year’s Eve? This particular sister I’ll be visiting has missed birthday presents for 60 years.

Credit:  Sarah Robinson

I had no idea my cat Dickens, adopted last January, had FIV and gingivitis. I found out about his health conditions when I took him to the vet shortly after adoption. He’s lost so much weight in the past few days, I took him to the vet two days ago. He’s lost more teeth and his gums have been a bloody mess.  He’s on pain killers and antibiotics now and already his coat looks less mangy today. How I hate forcing kitties to give them medication. On the other hand, it’s a bonus not to bleed to death myself while fighting with them. The pain meds are thick enough to smear on a paw, but the antibiotics are thin as water and he’s not forgiving.

Dickens is the tan one; Lady G. is brindle.

Dickens is the tan one; Lady G. is brindle.

November had me chained to my desk. I’d participated in NaNoWriMo though I hadn’t registered. At the last moment, a friend challenged me and unprepared, I dove in, thinking no way would I complete the task ahead. Had it not been for Karen, I would have given up by day ten—my first brain drain–but she, the competitive type, kept me at it because no way was I pooping out first. Now I have a book of short stories to edit in the New Year and maybe, maybe, I’ll complete that circle too. I tell you to stay accountable. November paid off much better than last summer had workwise.

If I had not had your kind and generous support all year, I have no idea how I might have moved forward towards my long-time goal: indie publication. Thank you. Thank you for the jab in the ribs whether you had any idea or not. I could not have done anything without you, my supportive community, and I plan to return the favor again soon in 2016. I have been mostly absent since the summer, but it has been worth it. I appreciate your kindness and thoughtfulness, each and everyone of you.

It’s been an unusual, but exciting year for me. Thank YOU.  Thank you. I had no idea what a wonderful world I’d entered when I began blogging four+ years ago. I am close to 500th posts. Close, but still a few to go.

 

Credit: gabychest

Or maybe you’d prefer a more honkytonk version:

Credit:  TheChiefEmperor

Happy New Year!

Hip-hip-hooray 2016

Hip-hip-hooray 2016


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Farther Along the Viking Trail

A warning light flashed on the bus dashboard. We stopped at an Irving Station (gas /variety store / liquor store) for a break and Shaun, our driver, had the problem checked out. Almost anything is available at some of the larger gas stations. It was a treat to move around and flex stiff joints and muscles inside the store. Some of our group grabbed coffee and snacks. Others used the facilities.

We’d met Margaret and her husband, Jack, when we first arrived at the airport. She came towards me with a brown paper bag wrapped around a bottle. “Oh. I see,” I said.

“Water,” she said. I thought she was fooling around.

Later, she called out and caught up with us while we were boarding the bus.

“It’s not water,” she said. “I didn’t know. He said it was water and I believed him.

“Ha. I knew that!” She wasn’t kidding.

I laughed. I know a wine bottle when I see one.  She blushed.

We did a lot of driving today: long stretches of empty highway, lots of roadside trees and more drizzle. I felt we were going in circles.

Gros Morne National Park is a world heritage site. The land has risen two meters (rebounding of the land) where the Vikings (now called Norsemen) landed. Temperature 1,000 years ago was five degrees warmer. The scenery is spell-binding. We didn’t get off the bus here. The following video gives you an overview of this wonder.

Credit:  The Tablelands, Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador

 Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism

 

More about Moose:

  • 1904 Four moose released from New Brunswick (not native to Newfoundland)
  • This is the heaviest concentration of moose in the world
  • Moose love balsam, birch and fir
  • Haven for 5,000 moose in Gros Morne National Park
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dc42JAHNPw (check this out)
  • Full grown moose ( about 12-1,400 pounds) can eat 50 – 60 pounds of young trees per day
  • One area fenced off at Gros Morne to protect the trees / outside of fence, trees naked
  • 500 moose allowed to be removed / hunted: a controlled hunt
  • Woodland caribou are native to this area
  • Native predators are insects brought in by international shipping
  • John’s and 100 km. zone = 23 accidents in August 2015 even before month ended

On the lighter side:

In Saskatoon, a boxcar came loose and a guy brought home a wheel barrel full of salt cod, but he didn’t know what to do with it. It was hard, you see. So, he shingled a shed roof. It leaked a little, but lasted about two years.

Cod Quick Facts:

  • Cod is king
  • Cod Fishery starting to renew after more than 20 years
  • 3-week recreational fishing allowed now (fish coming back)
  • Sent salt cod to the Prairies in the 1930s
  • Used to ship salt cod with liquor run (Someone released the wrong car. only whiskey; no cod)
No credit required, but found at Pixabay.com

No credit required. Found at Pixabay.com

Newfoundland Quick Facts:

  • NFL lumber can be shipped to the US
  • Most of the lumber cut here, therefore tariffs less than in British Columbia
  • Considered private
  • Logging mill keeps nine days supply
  • Burn the sawdust to provide electricity
  • Dairy farming big business
  • Used to be sheep but coyotes can decimate them
  • Put a donkey or a llama with the sheep and coyotes don’t come near

The Lighter Side:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caribou_(train)

A conductor told a pregnant woman on the Newfie Bullet she shouldn’t have got on due to her condition. She told him when she got on the train she wasn’t pregnant.

* * *

Tentatively on November 6th – Continuing along the Viking Trail

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

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

*************************************************************************************************************

I have not registered for NaNo, but will be occupied for the next while. Will post as I am able. 


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A Walk to Remember

What choice did we have? The woman had sounded confident. It was about 5:30-ish; lots of time before dark. To this point the walk had been level, but now the path crept up-hill. Intent on our goal, we gasped and wheezed to the top, out of the wooded area. Fast-moving traffic whizzed by on a road a good stone’s throw away. Per instructions, we turned right onto a sidewalk and lo and behold the landmark building gleamed in the distance.

A residential area spread before us, but we turned left and trudged up a road which seemed a dead end. Cars and trucks parked hoods to tailpipes, were all blocked in except the last two in a double row. Up a stone and concrete rise, Mary and I traipsed, careful not to stumble. Next came stairs, a sizeable municipal parking lot, across another busy road, and the mall at last. First we traversed its humongous parking lot. I’m not sure anymore if the other part of the mall next to the liquor store was a hardware or grocery store. We beelined towards the entrance.

At both intersections where we’d crossed, drivers slowed and stopped before we set foot off the sidewalk. Such polite Newfoundlanders. A couple groups of locals outside the liquor store gave us the once-over. We might as well have worn signs: Tourists or No Way from Here.

On a Friday night, I suppose it’s not unusual to find this type store busy. It was jam-packed with customers of varied ages and sounded like party central. Music blared, customers swarmed, and it was hot. Yes, stifling, as if someone forgot to turn the furnace off. We’d decided to buy a bottle each in case next time no store existed within walking distance. I hope fellow blogger, Sally Cronin believes this purchase was for medicinal purposes. Wink. Wink.

Mary had to chat up an employee as I dripped a puddle within minutes of entering. I shop fast except when I’m grocery shopping. Up and down the isles I zoomed till I found something familiar. Mission accomplished, I couldn’t find Mary. If I didn’t get out of there soon, nothing would be left of me. I was ready to forget the wine and escape outside.

You’d think my sister had never been in a liquor store before. It was no different from those at home. I found and grabbed her—she already had a selection in hand. Our lucky day: the cash register was new and not working properly, the cashier needed help, and there were a handful of people in line ahead of us. I wanted to wring out my hair.

Finally outside, I thought I’d never cool off again because we were slogging along at a good clip. We retraced our steps, not once taking a wrong turn. We’d only hiked over one-and-a-half kilometers one way.

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A Meet and Greet had been scheduled for 8:30 p.m. with our tour group. With time to kill, Mary and I sent e-mails and she nodded off in bed. I pulled out my book, curled up on the sofa and read. Though my eyes were heavy, I watched the clock.

At last it was time to meet everyone. Hot and cold beverages and tiny tarts were served. We introduced each other. Two minutes later I couldn’t match a name to a face. The whole procedure took about a half-hour. More than anything, I wanted a bed and pillow. I shut my eyes by 10:30 p.m. (9:00 home time). I’d been awake since 3:15 that morning.

“When you make friends with a Newfoundlander, you make a friend for life.”

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

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


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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.

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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).

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The path is long, but the way is scenic.

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Feathered friends enjoy the water.

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A bridge to cross.

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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.  


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Chongqing: Day 17, Part 2 – to Guilin Tea Plantation

I felt rushed through the zoo and we were. Next on the agenda was a local flight to Guilin. We had to get our luggage checked and be ready to board by 11:10 a.m. for an hour flight. There were no unexpected surprises at the airport this time: no wands shrieked, nor gongs rung; no high-pitched voices nor thumping feet. Everyone had packed properly and wore no heavy metal.

A boxed lunch was served on board again, but I don’t recall what had been on offer.

Upon landing, our new tour guide, thirty-something Lily, met us at the airport. She was an attractive young woman, who appeared reserved, but approachable.

  • Population Guilin: 1 million, includes 5 urban districts. Total equals 4.7 million
  • Lots of Limestone mountains
  • Yao Mountain only earth mountain, also the highest

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  • Small buildings only up to five storys high
  • Lakes and two rivers
  • Have 4 seasons
  • Living standard is okay
  • Tourism main source of revenue
  • Tax-free for business
  • Minority regions, tax tree
  • Good transportation
  • Major fashion manufacturers: Shanghai & Kenton
  • Southern port of China

We were surrounded by limestone mountains from the airport to Guilin. What a sight to see.

  • Specialty chili paste: local taste is hot
  • Herbal medicine
  • Fermented tofu
  • Persimmons, kumquats, oranges
  • Local wine (53% made from rice), named: Three Flower
  • Natural wine quarry
  • Local beer: Lee Cham
  • Hometown of local painting
  • Ocean pearls about 300 miles (km) from Guilin
  • 10 army bases present because close to Vietnam border
  • Rice has two crops a year. Ninety percent of rice farmers suffer rheumatism and arthritis

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Frolicking in a tea field. I couldn’t balance the hat on my head.

Tea Quick Facts:

  • Guilin area known for Chinese Tea
  • Tea Institute does research on tea properties (founded in 1965 near Yao Mountain)
  • Same tea bush, different tea from different parts of the bush
  • Tea picking is in the morning
  • Osmanthus tree, a relative of cinnamon (use only flowers not bark for tea)
  • Flower tea: Jasmine, Osmanthus
  • Green tea has caffeine, radiation-resistant for people use computers for long hours
  • White tea regulated and produced in limited quantities for export
  • Oolong tea, you must have clay pot (colour is red but like black tea) but different taste

Tea Disruption

  • Most popular tea? Depends on age and type of job (social standing)
  • Tea for modern people: “Puer” tea compressed into a hard block
  • Puer tea (expensive) you cut off a piece to make tea
  • Puer tea: good for stomach, detox high cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, rheumatism and good for losing weight

We were invited to a tea tasting after the tour. I wasn’t fond of much of the tea. One couple liked the Puer tea and bought a box.

~ * ~

Additional Information:

Tea farm outside Guilin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_Bzr8s45i8

How do they make it? Puer Tea Production:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6mewXlWlmY

 ~ * ~

Next on February 13th, To Yangshuo: Day 17, Part 3 – Countryside

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

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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On the Yangtze River: Day 15, Part 5 (To the Locks)

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

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

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

8:05 a.m.

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

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

10:58 a.m.

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

 

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

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

The days have been so slow and lazy (mostly reading), I find it difficult to realize this is only day three on the ship.

To prove how lackadaisical I’ve become, I forgot all about taking note of the offerings for lunch.

It took all day to go through all the locks.

 

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

Three Gorges Quick Facts:

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

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

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie

Late Dinner rescheduled for 7:00 p.m.

Salads

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

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

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

Mains

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

Desserts

I had three glasses of wine at dinner, and then a fourth to take to my room, following the Guest Talent Show. After the movie on Deck 5, I asked at the bar about buying a (cheap(er)) bottle for my room, the same as the local brew poured freely at lunch and dinner. This wasn’t possible / available for purchase. Instead of Jacobs Creek Australian wine ($33 / bottle USD), I was shown a bottle of Dynasty (China’s best local wine) at $21.00 USD. I wasn’t that thirsty. I had paid $10.00 USD, less than half, in Shanghai for the same bottle at a tiny grocery store on a side-street.  Yes, it was good at that price and I was not willing to pay more. I have never  paid so much. Hong Kong will be my next wine shopping.

Guest Talent Show:  (Only Four Acts)

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

After the short performance Bonnie and Loreno danced to the twist when dancing music played and people got up to dance. Not me.

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

Additional Information on the locks.

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

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

~ * ~

Next on January 16th – On the Yangtze, Day 16, Part 6 (Ghost City

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© 2015 All Right Reserved TAK


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Beijing Day 5, Part 4: Special Peking Dinner

When the bus dropped us off, we walked to the restaurant down an alley and a weird sidewalk, up-heaved and not finished, 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 caving of Peking Duck. Check out the wind glass on the table.

Our heads swiveled as if at a tennis match, 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 by 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 preference, our 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. What a group we are. No-one jumped to order. All meals and tips were inclusive but not the 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? Was it good? It wasn’t memorable.

The duck was presented and carved. An expert carver, every cut precise. Yes, we all tasted it, but no-one liked it and what an embarrassment to leave so much uneaten. Okay, I’ll tell you why: it was dry and tough. My apologies to the chef.

  • 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 tiny ones)
  • Chicken and tomatoes
  • Soup (made no notation re 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 I bought for 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. Pantomime, hand signals and short of removing my shoes, we finally found regular bandages. I shook my head a lot and the druggist showed me a roll of gauze suitable for a bullet wound to the chest.

On my way back to the hotel I slipped into the variety store 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 August 7, Luoyang, Day 1, Part 1: Domestic Flight

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