China yesterday, today and tomorrow 19 day tour. Part 2
Day 3rd April/ Up and at it early in the day as we were disembarking the cruise ship at the historic port/city of Jingzhou. We had a tour of this historic place that has 6000 years of history and gave birth to the culture of “Chu”. An interesting fact is that the population of Jingzhou was only 6 million so it didn’t warrant an airport. We had to bus it for 3 hours to our next hotel in Wuhan. This bus trip was a bit eventful and encountered heavy rain. Wuhan was a very interesting place and it was disappointing that we didn’t get any real opportunity to see it in depth other than a city tour on the bus. There was one highlight of this visit though at the Han Show Theatre. We didn’t know what to expect here. On arrival we found a pretty standard theatre with tiered seating in an arch and very high walls covered by fabric. When it all started the centre section of the crowd moved back about thirty to forty metres and the sides turned out by about 45 degrees and the curtains were removed. This revealed an enormous area of stage for the various activities to take place. The biggest surprise was that the floor disappeared down to reveal a pool area that was equal to four olympic pools in capacity and was eight metres deep. This show was spectacular involving jet skis, hydro jets attached to big hoses, extremely high diving and acrobatics. The stage returned numerous times and disappeared just as quick when more water activities were happening. It was the most spectacular performance that we had ever seen. The engineering feats, personal abilities and sheer risk was amazing. The performers didn’t just have six packs of muscle but full slabs.
The view of our ship after disembarking.
We even got a welcome to the show.
The stage that is also a pool.
Day 4th April/ Another early start and off to the airport for a flight from Wuhan to Shanghai. When we arrived we had a tour of some of the most notable city spot and then we had an opportunity to do shopping at Nanjing Road where there are many large stores, boutiques and department stores. The shopping was bit high end and was busy as. Following dinner we went to an Acrobatic Show.
A little bit of window shopping in Shanghai.
Day 5th April/ First up was a visit to the Shanghai Museum. They do everything in style and certainly don’t scrimp on anything. It is interesting that almost where ever you go there is some kind of security check/xray etc. Next thing was a cruise of the Huangpu River which certainly showed up the city skyline. We had dinner at a restaurant on the bank of this river and we were able to see the city by night which was quite spectacular. The custom here is for for brides to have pre-wedding photos and we sited a bride in red here.
Faye was hanging out waiting to do Tai Chi in China and this was the only opportunity.
The Shanghai museum.
We visited the Shanghai Silk Museum where Faye and some others helped make a silk doona. We did make a purchase here so we have a real silk doona, cover and pillows slips as a result.
Before dinner we had a look around the old Shanghai area.
The local meat vendors.
The night life after our show.
Cigarettes at 8 yuan (about $1.70)
Day 6th April/ We had breakfast in Shanghai and headed for the airport so we could fly to Guilin. We have become quite efficient at this airport thing in bulk. Our tour guide Tina is like a terrier dog when it comes to getting her family (as she calls us) all checked in with plenty of time. Sometime the locals are bit miffed with us. Although we flew to Guilin we boarded a bus and headed into the country for a visit to Yangshuo. Yangshuo is a famous village in China and it took us to a more basic existence of the Chinese people on the River Li. We arrived in the mid afternoon, which gave us an opportunity to relax, enjoy the local people, scenery and the more down to earth way of existence for the people. We went for a walk close to the hotel and checked out a supermarket. The cost of the articles were very reasonable. I had started to measure the cheapness of an area by the price of beer. And here I could get a six pack of local beer for 18 Yuan which is about $4. When we first arrived in Beijing our first beer purchased was 18 Yuan each can.
These appeared in most hotel rooms so the air quality must get bad or they are expecting a fire.
Can you spot the excavator up there? Vendors everywhere.
This night we went to the water show of “Impression Liu San Jie”. It involved some 600 local people on stage each time (three shows a night) and was quite spectacular although very hard to get any quality photos or video. This was a great show but due to language it was a bit hard to follow.
Day 7th April/ This was a slower start to the day as we went on a river cruise of the River Li. The scenery was fantastic but the early rain and fog/mist did make it appear a bit drab. When we left the cruise there were plenty of market stalls and foods places set up and preparing food.
The chicken pluckers. The pork preparation. Just burning off some hairs.
A visit to the tea farm where they showed traditional methods of tea growing, processing and making.
Helen at work.
And Faye at work.
Next stop was the part of town where the markets were. In China the knock off of brands has been outlawed to an extent and you can be reasonable sure that if it has a shop front then it is the real deal. But in this market if you try to bargain very hard then you may get invited through the back door where the knock offs are available. We had quite a few shoppers on the tour that went crazy at every opportunity. Would you believe that one women had acquired 14 handbags? All knock offs though.
After the market some of the crew had a traditional massage for about 90 minutes and the rest had a better look around the central area. Unfortunately the weather was a bit wet which made it a bit difficult.
Again we were back on the bus and headed for Guilin where we checked in at the Grand Link Hotel.
Day 8th April/ Up at a more leisurely pace and on the bus to catch the High Speed Train. The train station was just like an airport check in with security and crowds. We arrived a bit early for our trip so we got the crowd for the previous few trains as well. Most travellers didn’t have the amount of luggage that we were travelling with so, our tour guide got us preferential treatment so we could get on with our luggage. The train wouldn’t wait for anybody so it was a bit stressful to get the luggage on and get to your allocated seat. I was expecting to travel at about 350 kmh but our train only maxed out at 248kmh. When compared to Bendigo to Melbourne it is still very fast and it felt like we were standing still. We got a bit spoiled in China, as when ever we flew, we had a meal, and on the train we still had the opportunity if we chose. We had a packaged meal provided by our hotel for the trip. I think we are a little backward in the land of Aus.
A big road but only one scooter in sight.
Own arrival in Guangzhou we boarded a bus and visited the Ancestral Temple of Chen family.
Our bus driver did U turns anywhere and didn’t worry about traffic jams that he caused.
Parking is a premium.
It is amazing what they can grow is such very small areas.
It is very industrial.
After this we again boarded the bus and headed for the Sheraton Hotel in Zhongshan city. The meal this night was in the hotel and took the form of a seafood banquet. We thoroughly enjoyed the Chinese food but this was a variation that we all enjoyed. There were some quite strange articles available but we could all find something that we liked. Good red wine is quite hard to find in China with one previous experience proving to be both expensive and not good. This particular dinner had very good and economical Chile origin red wine available and it was certainly welcomed as Bruce was celebrating his seventieth birthday that day. Some of our crew were paying 360 yuan on the boat for red wine which is about $80 Aud so we certainly enjoyed this night.
Day 9th April/ This proved to be a big day! After breakfast we boarded the bus and took a tour along the coastal region stopping of at a few places that appeared to be the Gold Coast of China passing the Zhuhai Railway station.
We arrived at Hengqin Port which is the boarder point between Mainland China and Macao.
We had to go through security on the mainland side and then walk to another part of the same building and go through the Macau security as we are entering another country . This whole thing was bit stressful for all of us. We had a city tour of Macau visiting the most notable sites.An interesting fact was that driving changed from left hand drive to right hand drive, they started to adhere to road rules more and be more considerate of other drivers and pedestrians.
The cross over bridges
Gino with a friend.
We had been told to try the Portuguese custard tarts and they proved to be quite nice. As we were only in Macau for a short time the currency situation was interesting. We visited the MGM Casino. There is more than 30 casinos in Macau and is a gambling destination for the Mainland Chinese people who are not able to gamble there. The MGM casino was quite impressive but apparently not up to the current standards of the newest casinos.
Another temple to visit and there was even a Chinese Dragon exhibition.
We headed for the ferry terminal where we were to catch a ferry to Hong Kong at 5.45. Again major security and procedures like an airport and we boarded the ferry. It was just on dark when we left and Hong Kong was lit up in lights by the time we arrived a bit over an hour later. This was an enormous day and we were particularly impressed by Tina when we arrived at the L’hotel to find she had the room keys already so we could go straight to the room for a moment. We didn’t venture far that night and a group of us had a leisurely night with a few drinks and a casual meal in the hotel bar/cafe.
The view from there 51st floor was quite impressive!
They appear to be big with glass between the bathroom and bedroom over here and the L’hotel was no exception although it was in the shape of a glass cylinder for a shower.
Day 10th April/ This day was one for our own choice. Chris, Helen, Faye and I decided as the weather was a little damp we would stay local and explore the shopping, culture and people close by the hotel. There were plenty of options for us to explore from fruit, veggies, meat and more shopping centre type environment. Some of the group took in the ladies market and central Hong Kong but in general they were a tad disappointed with the day due to weather and no real bargains as expected.
It was raining for most of the day so the shopping centres provides plastic covers for your umbrella at the entrance.
Helen found her shop.
Ginger on steroids?
Our days on the tour was quickly coming to an end!
We had met some great people on this trip. Michelle and her children Alana and Evan (Dad was unwell and couldn’t come) were from Seaford. Alana was to soon celebrate her 21st birthday so that was a great excuse for a nice meal and celebration with them, Ross and Kerry, Helen and Chris and Faye and me. Our last meal on this trip was at an Italian restaurant would you believe? And it was great.
Day 11th April/ Today we were up and organised quite early as our flight was scheduled to leave at 10.35am. Unfortunately for us an on board medical emergency resulted in a passenger being ambulanced off along with baggage which saw us depart two hours later.
Tina had a few sayings that she used all the time: Don’t rush but hurry!
China does not have rush hour but rush hours!
When she wanted us to stay close it was: Now be like sticky rice!
The conveniences were dubbed the happy room early in the trip. Some were happy and even five stars, but some were quite sad.
As we got on the bus each time she always said: Now check you ears, eyes, passport, pockets and teeth. Have you left anything behind or in the room safe? Do you have your I Phone, your I Pie (we think she means pad) and do you have the right partner?
Tomorrow mystery, yesterday history and today present.
What a great experience this whole trip has been for all of us.
We arrived home totally exhausted. Tina did warn us that we would need an Aussie holiday (Panda Holiday) when we got home and she is certainly correct. If we arrived home rested then the trip would have been light on content, but this trip was packed with activity and things to see.
We came up with a saying as well: Yesterday history made today.
Where to next?