Tuesday, March 19
Did not get out for a ride yesterday. Did get to the board meeting for Pine Cone Performers and to rehearsal. As Dan and I were driving down Old Priest Grade, we saw a white Subaru in front of us. It turned out to be Debbie & Greg. They stopped in Oakdale for dinner but we had to go on to pick up Julia.
Took Julia out for dinner, visited a bit and then to bed. Julia was nice enough to give us her bed but it didn’t help me sleep. I finally ended up taking a sleeping pill (probably around 1am).
Wednesday, March 20
We managed to get up, have breakfast, and made it to SFO. That’s where we are now. The flight will be two hours late due to bad weather in Beijing!
We’ve been in the air four hours. Looks like we have eight more to go. It is 9:30pm (PT). I don’t know the time difference between Calif and China so don’t know what time of day or night we will arrive in China. The seats are tight so there is really no room to spread out. The headrest on the chairs are set to force the head forward so I cannot get comfortable to really sleep. I keep reading, falling asleep, waking up, reading, etc. I’m guessing I will arrive in China sleep deprived. Wish I could get more food but I can’t – I will survive that but I still wish I could eat something more.
OK, we are in Beijing and its tomorrow. Had to get off the plane, fill out a form, have it reviewed, get in another line, go through security and are now waiting for a shuttle bus to take us to the next plane. Since the flight out of SF was delayed, our connecting flight has changed. It is COLD in the airport. I can feel my toes starting to freeze.
We finally made it to Shanghai much later than planned. We’ve been told to go downstairs for a buffet breakfast between 6:30 and 10:30 in the morning. If we miss it, we are on our own for breakfast. We are definitely on our own for lunch. We are to meet our guides at 1pm tomorrow.
Friday, March 22
We lost a day while flying from SF to Shanghai so this is our first full day in China. Dan and I made it down to breakfast around 8 and stayed while Bonnie, Larry J, Larry R and Judy showed up. Nina came down too-just before the buffet closed down.
At 1:00, we met our bus group and guides and headed for The Bund which is an area along the Huangpu River. When the UK came to China, they claimed this area so there are a lot of English-style buildings from the 1800s. (I think the date is correct).
Next we were bussed to Chinatown of Shanghai which is an area that is still “old” China. Saw a pretty garden (about 5 acres) in town created by a rich leader from several hundred years ago.
After looking through there, we were released to look around Chinatown. My left foot was bothering me too much to walk around so I found a place to sit and wait. The group finally gathered again by the Starbuck’s and we got back on the bus. We were taken to a Chinese restaurant and served family style with all foods chosen for us. Some items were ok but others… I’m hungry. Hmmm, that seems to be a theme.
After dinner, we were bussed to another location where there was a show by acrobats. They were amazing! No photo taking was allowed which was too bad. The strength and grace of the men and women was astounding. Saw a couple of jugglers too. One guy was so smooth it was almost unbelievable. At one point, he was juggling seven balls. His way of juggling was to bounce the balls as well as throw them.
Finally got back to the hotel. We have to eat breakfast and be ready to go tomorrow morning by 8am.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Ended up waking at 5am. Tried to go back to sleep without success. Finally got up just before 6am. Got downstairs for breakfast in plenty of time. Bus left at 8am as planned.
We drove about 2 hours to Suzhou which is known for making silk and as the Venice of China. Our first stop was a silk factory. We saw the various life stages of the silk worm and what they eat. The Chinese have worked the worms to the point the moths can no longer fly.
Each ‘spring’ cocoon is one mile in length. The cocoons that are created at later times in the year are shorter. The worker must find the end of the silk thread and then a machine unwinds it. Sometimes two worms create a cocoon together. These double cocoons are used to create the silk for stuffing inside comforters. The single cocoons are used to create silk for clothing, embroidery and the like.
silk worm cocoons:
After this visit, we went on a boat tour of the “Grand Canal.” The first part of the boat ride was along a pretty area but then we got into a more narrow area. It became evident the canal is used as a garbage dump. Many homes back up to the canals. We saw people washing clothes and pots in the dirty water.
The boat tour ended and we were bussed to a place where they embroider the silk. The pictures they made were unbelievable. They looked like photographs. The time and detail involved is amazing.
Made it back to Shanghai. Everyone was on their own for dinner. Dan and I walked across the street to the blue frog bar and grill. He got a burger and I got a salad. Just as we finished, in walked Larry, Nina, Lotty, Dave and Barbara. They were seated next to us so we stayed and chatted. Then another group from our tour walked in so we visited with them too.
Finally got back to the hotel and here I am…downloading pics and blogging.
Tomorrow will be another early day – we have to be ready to leave by 7am.