Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Yangtze - Shibaozhai

Visit Shibaozhai Temple, climb the stairs of a 12-story pavilion built in 1650.

Well, it took a few days but we almost created an international incident this morning. After leaving the boat to visit the Shibaozhai pagoda, Gerry wanted me to ride a rickshaw to the top of the hill - thinking it would be a great photo op. He negotiated the price, paid the guy, I got in the rickshaw and Gerry took a pic as I was being carried up the hill. After about 20 feet, I asked to be put down because I was very uncomfortable being carried by other humans. Then, the trouble began. The guy kept motioning for me to stay in until the end of the trip. I gave him more money and tried to convey that I wanted to walk. He kept talking and motioning. I kept shaking my head and walking. I thought I had escaped, but NO. He got reinforcements and encountered me again at the top of the hill. By then Gerry had caught up to see me surrounded by several animated Chinese. To the rescue he came. Well, not exactly. We finally had to get our tour guide involved and ended up paying the guy more just to get him to go away. From the minute you set foot on the shore, you are inundated by people trying to sell something. Tables are set up for quite a distance. Gerry calls it "running the gauntlet." So far we have bought none of it because our guide said most of it was substandard or fake. After this morning, we will be buying our souvenirs at the Lancaster Wal-Mart. Plenty of "Made in China" items there.

The pagoda was been one of the most interesting sights - again, we think. The vistas should have been spectacular; however, it is impossible to convey to you the unrelenting smog. It has really started to wear on us physically and psychologically. Many people are complaining of air passage irritation, and Gerry has had it. He wants to see sunshine and a clear sky. I think he will be out of luck until the morning after we arrive in Lancaster.

Gerry decided when in China, do as the Chinese.  He washed his clothes and hung them on the balcony to dry.  Took two days because of the humidity, and I think he still packed a few damp things in his suitcase!
Last night the crew performed. There were some delightful skits. All of the Viking personnel have been outstanding, and our accommodations are very good on the ship. The food has been mixed. The filet mignon night was very good, the Chinese night was terrible, and the other nights have been mediocre. The breakfasts and lunches have provided more than enough good food for us, and we never seem to pass on the desserts. Gerry has gained no weight; Ginny can't say that.

Tonight is our last night on the ship, and we are very much looking forward to our excursion in Xian. Caron, I will think of you as we view the terra cotta warriors. Everyone stay safe and well. Cough, cough from China.

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