Well we are back in Jiaxing – city of grey skies and mold. Mold? you ask. Indeed. Normally every summer is hot and humid in Jiaxing – last summer there were 40 days over 40º. The heat serves to kill the mold the humidity brings to life. This summer, however, there were only 4 days in excess of 40º. There is mold all over the place. The vice principal left his car at the school for a month – mold all over the seats and steering wheel. One of our teachers had it in various places – on his bed (6″ circle worth), other teachers found it on their pillows – 4 had to be thrown out. We were fortunate – only a little on some bamboo place mats and the wooden blinds in the bathroom. We still have the left over smell, but it is gradually diminishing.
Anyway, back to the Gluttony Tour. 7 fun-filled, food-filled, wine-filled weeks – 12 additional pounds for Geoff and 2 for Terry.
(Fear not – I have already lost 4 of those pounds!) Let me take you on a pictorial voyage. (Ed. note: My apologies to those who failed to get into the photos – what can I say.)
Our first week included dinner at Ken’s.
Ken explains how big the fish that got away was.
Our last view from Ken’s magnificent West Van home. The blue skies amazed us all summer – with the exception of the three days of rain Terry, Petra and Tanya had in Kelowna.
From there is was to be surprised when Ria and Scott showed up at Joan and Dennis’.
The food was great – but no ribs!
The following week Terry was up at Levitt Lake with Jan and Jenny – and Quinn – for some quiet time – except for traipsing back and forth to the vet for to get Quinn’s meds.
Meanwhile Geoff was on a 4 game golf tour which ended for him after 3 games when his back went out.
Tom in the kitchen – again.
Vern picks up his ball after his first hole in one! “A high arcing 158 yard 9 iron which bounced twice and fell into the hole.”
Celebrating the 24th annual West/North Van Golf tour. Looking froward to Year 25.
Next up – Dinner at the Cregg-Guinans
Another big crowd, another big meal, another big drinking opportunity…
The ladies wanted in on The Shoe Blog!
The following week Terry was off to Kelowna for a girls’ shopping trip and wine tour. When she came back we had a wonderful eating and drinking evening with our pals from the golf course at Paul and Ingrid’s magnificent home.
Would anyone like some wine?
Some of the boys in the wine cellar…
Magnificent great room…
An assorted – (Ed. note: some might say motley) crew.
The next week brought our visit to Laurie’s new home downtown on Beach – on the night of France’s fireworks.
Laurie’s rooftop deck was a .great place to have dinner and drinks
We don’t get sunsets like this in Jiaxing – or likely anywhere else in China.
The fireworks were fantastic – Thanks Laurie.
Then it was off on our whirlwind tour of Penticton, Calgary, Trochu (Ed. note: Terry spent a whack o’ cash at Henry’s shoe store again) and Salmon Arm (Ed. note: Where Geoff decided it was time to give up drinking – thanks Ken!)
We got to see the Peach Festival in Penticton…
…the spectacular Mount Norquay…
…and this sculpture in Calgary.
When we got back we had the chance to visit the Douglas Coupland art show at the Art Gallery
Douglas Coupland’s art piece #1 and his…
Now I’m not an art aficionado, but I think this is more to my liking.
A Lawren Harris
Then off to Ken’s new home overlooking Burrard Inlet in Gastown.
Quite the view
Maybe the best place of all, though was
Our own little backyard.
Once again, our thanks to all of you.
The Shoe Blog
You didn’t think I was going to forget, did you? Terry and I were downtown at the Bay. Two young Chinese women tried on some shoes and then walked away and left them on the floor.
(Ed. note: This post was actually written in the Ramada Hotel in Shanghai on the morning of July 7th and then added to on the plane home. However, I had made such a big deal of the last one being the last one I couldn’t bring myself to publish it. BTW, you are likely reading this as we jet back towards Seoul.)
I must have lost my mind back there in Tainan. No more blogs until after the summer unless something really unusual happened? What the ^%$# Was I Thinking? We were going back to CHINA for God’s sakes. Of course something would happen. Even before we got off the plane!
Guy #1 – The plane lands and after a long time taxiing, gets to the gate. Immediately everyone is up. I have a process/method – I get up immediately too and block the people behind me from rushing forward as they are want to do in China. One guy is actually pushing me out of the way – well, trying to push me out of the way. He stops pushing when I turn around and look down at him. We have been stopped for all of 10 seconds.
Guy #2 – “Please sir, I must get by and get my luggage, it is ahead.” “Why – they haven’t even opened the doors – there is no where to go.” “Please sir, I want to get it.” “You may get it when you go by.” Then, he says to the flight attendant “Make him move.” “Please sir, let him by he wants to get his luggage.” “Not happening.” When they finally get the door open and we start to move off she says to me “Thank you sir, it is hard for us to control the passengers.” I see him later with his backpack, and duty free bag in front of us at the taxi line. He studiously avoids looking at me. (Ed. note: Hard to control? You bet – they let a guy on with 5 pieces of carry-on: suitcase, back pack, sports bag, shopping bag and neck pillow!)
Since we were leaving the next day, we just stayed at the Airport Ramada 3 minutes from the terminal. The taxi driver was beside himself, yelling at anyone who would listen that he didn’t want this fare. Man he was mad. I offered him 100RMB, knowing how pissed he was, but when we got to the hotel he refused to help get the bags out of the trunk, telling the bellman to do it. I told him I wanted the HUGE (85RMB on a 14RMB fare) tip back. I am surprised he didn’t break the hinges on the trunk door he slammed it so hard.
This is Terminal Two at Pudong Airport from out hotel room. He picked us up at the fuschia dot. We thought he would be happy – I was seriously over tipping (Terry was ticked) and he could whip back and pick up another fare. TIC
Sadly, or fortunately, I missed this. While I was checking in Terry went to the bar to order us a couple of beer. There was a young boy of about 6 or 7 being “watched” by his grandfather who was on his cell phone in the lobby area. The kid was flipping the cushions over his head with his feet over the glass partition and at his grandfather – who was gradually moving away. Then the kid decided he would throw a cushion at the grandfather – over three large pottery vases. Grandfather waggles his finger so the kid puts it down and proceeds to jump from chair to chair. As I said, sadly, or fortunately, I missed this.
On the upside, more plaudits for EVA Airlines (Taiwanese not Chinese). They bring around the meal with juice, coffee or tea. Terry asks for wine – “No problem – you sir?” “Yes please.” Then when I am finished the meal and the wine, she asks – “Would you like more wine sir?” Take that Air Canada! (Ed. note: The Asian people are not big wine drinkers – and especially not big white wine drinkers. While in Taiwan, Terry threw out more white wine than she drank at the hotel and suffered through the wine in restaurants. She drank more beer than wine!)
Our hotel room:
Nice enough room – but in the middle of the night in the pitch black the glass edges these shelves could be a tad dangerous. See inset.
Back at the Airport….
Aaaahhhh Air Canada. Get to the check-in counter really early and the two young women suggest that if we go through the kiosk checkin, we can go in to the shorter line and just drop off our bags. Sounds good. First kiosk Terry goes to doesn’t seem to work, so I ask one of the girls to help her. She goes over, says something and comes back. Terry moves to another machine after a couple of minutes. She inserts our passports at the appropriate time in the “Passport Reader” part of the kiosk and then is asked to key in all the necessary information by hand. So much for technology. It finally prints off our boarding passes and away we go, up the short line to “Bags Drop” where we wait while the woman at the counter processes a group of 6 in the regular way. Hey, I’m not even getting frustrated! We get to the counter and the woman says “You are not sitting together. Do you want to sit together?” Now this morning I spent an hour (64 minutes actually) waiting on the phone (Skype) so that I could spend $120 to get extra legroom in the exit aisle. Remember when you had to be at the airport and be in fit enough condition to open the exit door if necessary? Well, now you just need $120 and a verbal commitment over the phone that you are fit enough. Unfortunately, they only had one seat left in the exit row so one of us is sitting in the “normal” seat. This is what prompted the question from the agent. I said, “Not unless you can put both of us in an exit row.” She says “You are not sitting together. Do you want to sit together?” This goes on one more time before Terry shoos me away. Then we get reprocessed complete with having the kiosk boarding passes ripped up and new ones issued. I was just waiting to have the exit row removed from one of the boarding passes, but it was okay.
(Ed. note: Good news – China East Airways Flight Shanghai to Tokyo only had 4 final boarding calls! And each one was in Chinese, English and Japanese!)
And on the plane…
This is more fun than watching Russell Peters. We are on the flight from Shanghai home and going through a fair amount of turbulence. The announcements have all been made about sitting down with your seatbelt on – in English, French (it is, after all, Air Canada) and Chinese. But, do the Chinese listen – NO. These announcements are not for THEM – they are for everyone else. The poor flight attendant on my side of the plane is going out of his mind. So much fun!
My seat was two rows back from the lavatory. Ever seen this card?
Well the lavatory door, as I am sure all of you who have travelled know, is actually a PUSH door. The Chinese folks, apparently, don’t know this. They would come up, look at it, try to pull it, call out, look around and then go back to their seats. I did help two rather forlorn looking souls to push it in. Soon enough the word got around – mostly.
All of the flight attendants have to be at least 40 – I don’t think I have seen a smile yet and we are 2 hours into the flight. So much fun! (Ed note: Okay, the “Service Director” – whatever the hell that is, is under 40. Give ‘em a title instead of a raise. Terry maintains that she has seen a few smiles from them, but that is hearsay since it is only her unconfirmed word.)
With a mediocre (Ed. note: At best!) meal of beef and mashed potatoes, I asked for a beer AND a glass of red wine, which he graciously gave me – while whispering they are only supposed to give out one drink per person. On the other hand, Terry got 2 glasses, no surreptitiousness. Thanks Air Canada. (Ed. note: How did they ever become a four star airline?)
If you have ever flown overseas, raise your hand. It is standard procedure that the window shades are kept down until breakfast so that those who wish to sleep, may. In our experiences, if someone raises that shade, the attendants are on them very quickly to lower it. Not on this flight however. First, as soon as it was a little bit light some kid raised the shade and her mother said nothing. Next, I am sure one of the flight attendants would have said something – if they ever ventured out of their little space at the back or just ahead of business class. No one came around and asked if you wanted water or check on the passengers or anything. They came out to: Serve a barely edible dinner and then to collect the trays and then to serve an inedible breakfast and collect the trays. In between – nothing. Want free cookies? Go to them. Want water? The bottle is in the galley, help yourself. Want hot noodles when they’re available? We’re waitin’ for you, c’mon back. Terry maintains it was so that they wouldn’t disturb people or that the hot water is available from their taps. I maintain that a whole whack of people rushing up and down the aisle with those styrofoam cups of hot soup is just asking for trouble. Plus they wander around with coffee and tea pots – fill them with hot water and move the cart down the aisle once. How tough can that be?
I do so envy the Chinese in one thing, though. They are totally able to sleep anywhere, for any period of time. Once If they are ever all buckled in, the only people moving around will likely be the white folk.
About 45 seconds before we landed – final approach etc., some 6 year old kid up in one of the first class “pods” decides it would be a good time to stand up. The flight attendant was out of her seat, pushed the kid down and strapped him in – all in about 10 seconds – maybe previous experiences? Then, within 10 seconds of the plane hitting the runway, there were at least 2 people up and opening the overhead bins – only to be told to sit back down as we were still on an active runway! They aren’t even this bad in China.
The Shoe Blog
These four were all taken at the Kaohsiung International Airport in Taiwan waiting to get on the same flight. How good is that!
The blue and yellow ones were travelling by themselves – the other three were divas travelling together.
Well it is almost time to take off for Jiaxing again (Tuesday at 2:30). Before we go however, we want to thank everyone for their hospitality this summer. In the seven weeks we were home, Terry and Geoff were alone, at home for exactly 6 nights. We didn’t realize we had so many good friends who were willing to buy us food and wine! Thank you one and all.