(Ed. note: HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE from Terry, Geoff and Ken!)
Time flies when you are having fun, they say (Ed. note: Who, exactly, is “they”?) It is hard to believe that it has been more than a week since we last posted a blog. Does that mean we have nothing interesting to say? Does that mean we have been super busy with Ken? Does that mean we have been busy traveling? Does that mean Geoff has been suffering with bronchitis and generally felt too miserable to write? (Ed. note: And what about Terry – is her arm broken?)
In fact it is some of all of the above (except for the broken arm part). There haven’t been too many “adventures” which would qualify for your valuable time (hard to believe). We did get to Dadong for our “Christmas dinner” on Christmas Eve. The duck was fabulous again but the highlight was one of the servers being very rude to one of the bussers. When the busser went to pour a glass of water for one of us, the server effectively shoved her aside and took the bottle away to pour it herself. Nice. Then we asked the server her name and the name of the busser and she had to ask the young girl. It was fun to watch the server have to ask.
Christmas Day was quiet – we were at the spinning soft fabric market so Ken could order another overcoat. Geoff went to the doctor to get medicine and anti-biotics which haven’t totally worked a week later. Dinner was at Lost Heaven – and it too was was excellent (not hard to believe). The highlight of the day was watching Terry tear (Ed. note: That’s tear as in tears not tear as in tears) up at her Christmas gift – the boys are coming to Vietnam to join us for the first week of Chinese New Year – Jan 25 – Feb. 1. They, and we, are excited about it. Get that passport, Sam!
On the weekend we went to Nanjing, home to the “Nanjing Massacre” in 1937 when the Japanese (referred to mostly as “devils” at the memorial) invaded and murdered 300,000 men, women and children. We went to the memorial on Saturday. There were several emotionally moving statues out front and several halls and buildings in the memorial complex. As Ken remarked, it is hard to believe that the differences between the two peoples will be resolved anytime soon. One of the halls housed an exhibition dedicated to Auschwitz. All in all it was an fascinating exhibition.
From there we were off to the wall which was built 600 years ago to surround and protect Nanjing. It is not hard to believe that it has lasted this long – it was built to last. We visited one of the many gates which consisted of a series of four massive doors which could be closed in stages, penning the invading armies in a small area where they could be attacked from above. There were areas IN the wall where 3000 men could hide and then attack from behind.
By now Geoff was not well, so after fending off two other seniors in the fight for a taxi, we went back to the hotel and dropped him off so he could rest. Then Terry and Ken were off to the Dr. Sun Yat Sen mausoleum.
The cab took us out to the park but once there, we found that the signage (Ed. note: Strange, but not hard to believe) was entirely in Chinese. When the road forked, we relied on some nice people who pointed the way. Our timing was perfect at about 4:00pm because the sun was low in the sky but not yet setting. We followed the crowd to the bottom of a hill where a large Chinese gate welcomed us. Passing through, we thought that the mausoleum would be visible, but no. We passed through several more gates before we saw the 394 stairs pointing skyward to the final resting place of Dr. Sun Yat Sen. Beautiful! The views from the top were spectacular!
For dinner we went to – wait for it – Plastic Wang Pin Steak House. Opulent, garish, brocade furniture and walls awaited us. Dinner was good. We enjoyed various combinations of caesar salad or goose liver salad, french mushroom soup, seafood puff pastry soup, pumpkin soup, grilled rib eye or short ribs, followed by cold chocolate lava pudding. We were taken care of by a woman who was practicing her English – so she waited on us much too much. At the end of the evening there was a discrepancy in the bill of 10 rmb ($1.60) (Ed. note: how it came up I don’t know, or remember). We left with one of us a little ticked and the woman came after us, greatly upset and embarrassed and wanting to give us a gift – hard to believe, but it turned out to be a bottle of wine, which I’m sure cost more than the $1.60.
Sunday morning Ken and Terry were off to the Nanjing Museum while Geoff rested for the arduous train trip home. Most impressive of this “cultural centre” was the edifice itself—imposing, spacious and beautiful. Loads of travertine tile and marble flooring. Having been to the Shanghai Museum, the exhibits here were somewhat redundant-lots of ancient bronze pottery and porcelain horses and no shortage of neolithic pottery shards. (Ed. note: It is hard to believe that the little guy below was not the model for Donkey in Shrek!) It did tell the story of Nanjing history, however, as the seat of power and capital of China for 100s of years. Not much time spent on modern times except for a reproduction of a Shanghai street circa 1920s. Very tacky set-up where Chinese tourists posed in front of false storefronts and cable cars. We didn’t want to take a tacky tourist photo without Geoff.
Nanjing was an interesting place and well worth the visit but it was almost impossible to get a cab, even at 11:00 on a Sunday morning when the traffic was already grid-locked. Really, the only hope we had was to let the doormen at the hotel flag one down. We don’t know if they didn’t like foreigners–hard to believe–or just us–really hard to believe! Ken and I ended up walking several blocks then taking the subway back. Have to say, though, that the Jinling Hotel was outstanding in every way.
Next time: Getting to Macau – Hard to believe how long it took!