Our first full day in China started by meeting our guide, Jonathan. This is not his real name. None of the guides used their real names. They all had English names. This I noticed was true for the hotel staffs too. I guess they figured out we would never be able to pronounce or even figure out how to say their Chinese names. So –simplify!
We were all given name tags. On the back, our guide had written his phone number in case we ever got separated from the group, we could call him or have some sympathetic bystander do so. We were instructed to always wear our name tag. Remember this because it will come into play later in this blog.
Before I proceed any further, I must inform you that I hate hot weather. Many of you hibernate in the winter. I hibernate in the summer. Sunshine, let’s get this show on the road!
First stop — Yuyuan Gardens. These five acres of gardens date back to the Ming Dynasty. These weren’t gardens in the sense of large rolling hills with patches of azaleas, various flowers and fish ponds like I’ve been used to in the U.S. These were a different kind of beautiful. And old, really old.
And it was hot. Really hot. Like 97 degrees hot. We learned that in stepping over a threshold, men stepped with their left foot first, women with their right. Or maybe vice versa. I guess I didn’t really learn it. I don’t remember why. I think it had something to do with fertility. I must have been talking when he was explaining.
We left the gardens and walked to a silk embroidery factory. I think this was a 10K walk. Chinese people walk a lot and we soon learned when we were told it would be a short easy walk, we shouldn’t believe it. Between walking in the gardens and walking to the factory, someone who had a Fitbit on said we walked 5 miles.
The silk embroidery was beautiful. There was lady doing a demo and it was a real art. A dying art, actually, because young people don’t want to sit quietly to do something like this. For those of us who do needlework, we found this to be sad. All of the pictures for sale were quite expensive — $$$$. Since I already spent $$$$ on this trip, my budget didn’t allow the expenditure on any of them. 😦
We went upstairs for lunch, the first of our Chinese meals. We got beer!! Can we say, “Hooray?” Boy, it sure went down good. (I’m not a beer drinker, but I really liked all of the Chinese beer we drank.) We ate an array of things; most of which we didn’t know. Some good, some not so good.
We left and got on the bus to head to Shanghai Museum. This museum displayed 5,000 years of their history. Boy, the United States is such a baby! I think the population of Shanghai is 25 million and 24 million were in the museum that day. Jim and I did a quick perusal of some of the exhibits and then found some benches to sit on. We really should have trained for a marathon before we took this trip.
After freshening up at the hotel (a really nice Westin, btw), we went for dinner and then on to see the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe. In China, when they start school. it’s determined what they are good at and that seems to be what they study. So, this troupe was made up of those who studied at least 10 years. What I saw was very good, but I have to confess, I fell asleep and woke up at the end when the motorcyclists were taking their bow. I understand they were the hit of the show. But the long flight and busy day got the best of me.
Tomorrow we fly to Wuhan……………….