This is it. It’s all over. Where did my day start? My day finally started in bed as I was awoken from a deep sleep by my trusted iphone at 7 AM. We were leaving the hotel at 10:15 for a one hour drive to the Guilin Airport and then a three hour flight to Shanghai. I literally dragged myself out of bed, took a nice long hot shower to try and work out the sore legs and back and then went down for breakfast. I figured I would give the Chinese breakfast one last try. Couldn’t do it. I had some horrible coffee and then went for a walk to the local Starbucks. The Starbucks opens last 8 AM. Would never work in New York. Had a great couple of cups of Joe and went back to the hotel to relax. I met Andy and Kevin and they took me to a local coffee shop where the owner makes each cup of coffee separately. Meaning he does not have a big amount already made. It was so hot and humid that I couldn’t even have some more coffee.
We all met in the lobby at 10:15 and had our luggage and gear loaded into the vans. I sat in the front and what did I do? Immediately fell asleep. For the past few days I have been fighting my fatigue and exhaustion. We arrived at Guilin Airport for another round of dealing with the Chinese security and check in. After security, we all found a nice restaurant to have lunch. I had a very plain white bread sandwich. The last time I had a sandwich like this was so long ago that I cannot remember. Add another airline to my enormous list. This airline is named “JuneYao Airlines”. A new one for me. Anyone ever hear of this one? I got my aisle seat and settled in for another round of sleep. I was woken up by the stewardess. Lunch was being served and I already knew what was being served. Of course, I say no thank you. My sweet dreams called me back.
Arrived in Shanghai at around 4:30 PM. Shanghai has a city population of over 25 million and is the most populous city in the world. If you count the city and suburbs, Tokyo is one and Shanghai falls down to number two. The airport is named “Pudong International Airport” and is enormous. We walked at least one half mile to the baggage claim. It was then an adventure finding our bus. At 5:30 we finally left Pudong. The smog was unbelievable. I could never describe it. It seemed that a deep fog hung over the entire city and as we drove further towards downtown, the smog got worse. Michael confirmed that this was the real deal. Smog at its worst. We arrived in a downtown section named “Bund”. “Bund” is a german word for a bend in the river. We then took an elevator up seven floors to a beautiful restaurant. The restaurant was mainly inhabited by non oriental people. Tables and chairs were set up on a large terrace and there was an inside section. We decided to all sit in the inside. I then walked out to the terrace and looked out. My eyes were mesmerized. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. There was a winding large sort of canal winding around and on the other side was these enormous skyscraper buildings with huge neon signs. There were lots of people on my side walking around the Bund and there were colorful ships and vessels going around the waterway. It was night and the colorful colors and reflections on the water made for some beautiful shots. I set my camera up and clicked away. The food was great. Served western style. I had a great greek salad and then pork loin. The pork loin was the best I ever had. Dessert was an amazing array of pastries that melted in your mouth.
It was then onto the hotel. The hotel is situated near the airport and I can hear airplanes landing and taking off as I write this.
Now for met return home. My first flight leaves tomorrow morning at 11:40 AM and arrives in Hong Kong at 2:25 PM. Piece of cake. Now for the problem. My next flight is from Hong Kong to JFK nonstop. I leave Hong Kong at 4:05 PM and arrive in JFK at 8:15 PM. Now factor in the time difference. A nonstop flight of over sixteen hours. I don’t know how I will fight jet lag, but will try. Jet lag always hits me when I return home.
Now for my summarization. I was hesitant to come to China, but there were certain things I wanted to see and experience. I found the real people of China. In Xian I had a wonderful time taking pictures of the people. They were so friendly and fun loving. Most of my misgivings have been erased. The highlight of the trip was the Great Wall. I will always remember walking on the Great Wall of China by myself and feeling the presence and spirit of the Chinese soldiers. How special that was. No tourists. Yes it was hard and exhausting getting to this location, but the experience was priceless. I can thank Michael, Andy and Kevin for this memory that will last me for the rest of my life. The Terra Cotta Army was special. How unique this treasure is. I always wanted to see them for myself. It is reassuring knowing that there is constant restoration and excavation going on. The Yellow Mountains were different. We spent three days visiting a place that few foreigners venture to. Yes it was hard and strenuous constantly walking up and down steps. The five hour hike one day was something I will always remember. My trusted porter helping me and holding my arm so that I would not fall. Seeing the hard life that these porters had and being fortunate enough to not be in their situation. Seeing Michael help me with my camera gear. He was such a gentleman and caring person. He extended himself in a way that was extraordinary when he did not have to. Visiting a muslim holy place that was like no other that I had ever seen. Seeing the Cormorant Fishermen and knowing that they will shortly be extinct. Hearing their history and how they fish this way. Going to one fisherman’s home and taking pictures of him in his surroundings. Visiting the Forbidden City and its enormous size. Looking into rooms and seeing the rooms exactly as they were last inhabited. I could go on and on.
Now onto China. Michael told me that the children learn English starting in kindergarten. The masses of people all over could not be described. I am now convinced more than ever that the Chinese will one day soon be the most powerful country in the world and will probably rule the world. Their energy and will to advance and better themselves is all over China and growing. Expansion is everywhere. New housing is constantly being built. The cities are clean and everyone appears to live their lives in a very orderly fashion with a direction.
I have taken over 11,000 photos. Don’t worry I will not post them all. In all likelihood you will eventually see around fifty to one hundred of them.
My next adventure is coming shortly.