Peggy and I had to rise early for the 7:25 shuttle. I tried the congee (weird Chinese oatmeal like product) for breakfast. On our way to China, I even had the opportunity to take advantage of more Hong Kong shopping for my friends and family again. Our plane was late due to weather; the plane served a weird dim sum lunch. The most amazing thing about Hong Kong was the extreme duality of the place: good/bad, rich/poor. I saw no middle ground.
China customs was interesting. I came to a screen with a cartoon policeman on it. The screen flashed my name and then the custom officials badge number. I was then asked to rate my experience with a smiley face, neutral face or sad face. I refused to rate until he let me through customs but when he let me through I could no longer rate my satisfaction. I was going to giving him a happy face. We got our luggage and then we headed to the non-declarations line to exit customs and meet our local local concierge.
This is were we meet the greatest surprise of our trip, Anita, our private tour guide. She had our names on a placard where we left the airport to meet out driver Lucas. He drove a lovely black Volvo with leather seats. He even brought us water. They were taking us to Ya’an where the panda research center was located. We hit a ton of holiday traffic. On a potty break, Peggy and I got our 1st experience with the Chinese toilet. It was crazy but Peggy and I laughed and laughed but I didn’t even pee on my pants.
The traffic was so bad we skipped the traditional Chinese Village for dinner. When the Chinese people were tired of traffic, they took breaks and did what had to be done.
During the traffic time, we got to quiz Anita on all things China. We talked about education, pandas, Chinese New Year, Chinese keyboards, burials, her family just to name a few. Peggy and I were stunned to learn she left home at 14 for school. Anita had a degree in English tourism.
Anita got us checked into our hotel and I have to admit when I first saw the city I was more than a little nervous about what I had gotten myself into. The hotel ended up being pretty cool; kinds like China’s version of the Holiday Inn. Then Anita took us out for dinner. The 1st couple places were closed so we kept walking.
Everyone we saw stared at us like we were blue while Peggy and I just smiled. Anita explained that we were the first foreigners that most of the locals had ever seen. Later Peggy and I got a laugh because we both thought “what do you mean, we aren’t foreigners, we are Americans.”
We ended at this little dive. When I first saw the place, I thought “oh no – I will spend the rest of my trip over a toilet.”. We got our food to go so we could dump it if it didn’t go well. We also got beer (you can’t go wrong there). At the hotel we found we had green veggies maybe mustard greens plus a chicken and pork dish. It was incredible so very good. The whole meal came to about 12 bucks and included 4 beers.
Since we didn’t have a bottle opener, we used tweezers.
It was such a good time especially with the “go girl”. Go girl is a funnel used to direct urine flow for women so we don’t pee on our pants. We didn’t actually use go girl, we just talked about it.
The day was incredible. Anita was amazing, if she didn’t know the answer to our question she got it. We followed her everywhere like her very own baby chicks. We learned two new words Ne how – hello and She ha- thank you. These would be come our most used words over the next several days.
Wish you all could have been there!
All my love- Angie