Right, I never heard of it either. It’s the gateway to the Yangtze River Gorges. We flew out of Shanghai and were told that any flight within three hours of the scheduled flight time was considered on time. I believe we waited an extra hour to board. I guess pretty good by Chinese standards. Did I say, “I hate waiting?” Well, I do.
We were given box lunches to eat while we were waiting to fly out. We all started digging in when I discovered all my sandwich halves had mayo on them. Did I mention I hate mayo? I really didn’t know Chinese people ate mayo. I thought it was an English thing. So I threw them away and made Jim promise if they gave us peanuts on the flight, he’d give me his.
It was a pleasant enough flight and they actually served lunch, so I arrived well fed. But, I was tired and cranky –mayo on sandwiches does that to me. We boarded our buses and were told it would be about 45 minutes into town. Wow! Such a lot of construction going on. Since our boat wasn’t going to be ready, we were going to stop at a museum. I like museums. I really couldn’t tell you much about this museum because all-in-all, we saw so many museums they all ran together.
The one thing about this one was the entertainment. They had a little ensemble of retired people who performed Chinese music for us. Delightful! There were three men who played something called a 2-string violin. This instrument sat between their legs like a cello and only had the 2 strings — hence the name. The man that sat in the very front — I guess he was the first chair — was very animated and clearly loved performing. The man behind him and to his right never even smiled. I enjoyed the women who played things I can’t identify. They finished with Auld Lang Syne. We stood and cheered. It was one of my favorite moments of the trip. I wish I had taken a picture.
We boarded our ship and while dining, started our journey down the Yangtze River. The next day, we took an excursion to an elementary school in Yueyang. This was another of my favorite things. As we walked onto the school grounds, two lines of students were lined up saying, “Welcome to our school.” They put on performances for us and then we went into individual classrooms for discussion with the teachers. Since this was summer break, so only the students who lived nearby were the ones in attendance for us. Can you imagine this happening in the U.S?
This was a 6th grade math class. There were 75 students in the class; 41 of them boys.
If you notice, some of the students had red ties. These are the exemplary students. They achieve high scores and are designated as good citizens. There are four levels they need to achieve during their schooling years. If they achieve the 4th level, they can become Party members, which affords them all the perks of being such. They get the best university opportunies, jobs, etc. Our guide was not a party member. Most of China’s citizens aren’t.
Prior to making this trip, I knew we would be visiting a school, so I went to the dollar store and bought pencils and such to give out. All were made in China! Of course. I gave them out anyway because so many of the students are poor at this school. Viking River Crusies sponsors this school — actually they sponsor three of them in China.
Back on the ship and heading 150 miles to the Three Gorges Dam. I’ll fill you in on the next post. Stay tuned!