China – Shanghai

Highlights of our visit to this corner of China included the aesthetically appealing Bund (a myriad of European styled buildings that face the Huang Pu River), Nanjing Road (Shanghai’s main shopping district), Shanghai Museum (China’s largest museum), the Suzhou Grand Canal (an amazing engineering accomplishment as this is the longest man-made waterway in the entire world!), the Humble Administrator’s Garden, the Garden of the Masters of the Nets, and the Jade Buddha Temple. With a nice variety of old and new, our whirlwind tour was the perfect introduction to China.

Yummy dumplings; Central Hotel's "Wang Bao He" restaurant Performers precariously stack chairs on top of each other; Shanghai Center Theater A performer doing a fine job balancing a porcelain pot on his head; Ritz Carlton's Shanghai Center Theater Our first view of the Yu Gardens Bazaar's reconstructed "old style" buildings Colorful display of crabs and goldfish at the Yu Yuan Garden The Yu Gardens Bazaar is one of Shanghai's more scenic areas A lone figurine in the artificial moat surrounding the Yuyuan garden Simple furnishings at the Yuyuan garden Ornate carving on a window panel (notice the two lovebirds); Yuyuan Gardens The Yu Gardens Bazaar was our first exposure to traditional Chinese gardens which always include stones and rockeries, plants, water, temples and bridges A bonsai tree marks the entranceway to one of Yu Gardens Bazaar's many buildings Detail of a fighting warrior figurine; Yuyuan Garden Scenic views abound at Yu Gardens Becky crouches down next to a circular doorway A rare glimpse of complete solitude; Yuyuan Garden The Yuyuan garden has plenty of uniquely shaped portals The aptly named "Dragon Gate"; Yuyuan Garden Detail of a door knocker; Yu Gardens Bazaar The Yu Gardens Bazaar has been described as a "Disneyland version of historical China". Nevertheless, its a great place to spend an hour or two while in Shanghai Lots of tasty treats for sale at the Yu Gardens Bazaar A lucky elephant statue perhaps? Notice the well rubbed spots all over its body and trunk Mmmmm, yummy fresh crab dumplings prepared right in front of us Close up of Chinese dolls for sale; Yu Gardens Bazaar Souvenir stands greet us at the exit to the Yu Gardens Bazaar We paid a brief visit to this Confucius Temple, located in the old Chinese city district of Shanghai Detail of a statue; Shanghai Confucius Temple Interior view of the Confucius Temple Shanghai university students post "prayer requests" prior to taking their exams; Confucius temple Detail of antique bells in one corner of the Confucius temple (the other corner held massive drums) A Chinese model struts her stuff at the Confucius temple grounds Attractive view of the Confucius temple The super modern Shanghai Museum is worth a visit as there are excellent displays on view This unique bronze wine holder caught our eye This large bronze pot was unique because of the script written inside the pot Bronze bells of varying sizes Detail of a Chinese coin; Shanghai Museum Coin Gallery The Ancient Chinese Bronze Gallery has numerous bronze artifacts on display Detail work on a ceramic display Colorful ethnic minority outfit; Minority Gallery at Shanghai Museum A ceramic pillow A pristine example of the oldest Chinese paper money; Chinese Coin Gallery; Shanghai Museum Old architecture of the French Concession Getting ready for Christmas on Thanksgiving Day; French Concession district View of the Bund's eclectic architecture in the mid afternoon light Posing on the Bund; one of Shanghai's most popular sights. Behind us is the Pudong New Area District, where the movie "Mission Impossible III" was filmed Jade carving on display at the "Treasure Museum" Tea sets for sale at a tea house located at the North West area of the Bund Our tea hostess during a tea tasting ceremony Colorful flowers (even in the middle of winter) surround a Bund statue Monument to People's Heroes; Bund Anything to capture one's attention! An old vehicle catches our eye on Nanjing Lu Pay phone centers are popular...for monks too! The "Nanjing Lu" is China's golden mile of high end shopping There were several McDonald's restaurants along the Nanjing Lu area of Shanghai A jazz musician performs live for a captive audience, Nanjing Lu Robby poses next to a Nanjing Lu statue Hustle and bustle of Nanjing Lu's deli stores The neon lights come out in full force once night falls on Nanjing Lu Our parting view of Nanjing Lu before we head towards the Shanghai train station Entrance to the Humble Administrator's Garden Even though this is a picture in tranquility, there are thousands of Asian tourists scrambling all over the Humble Administrator's Garden; Suzhou The Small Flying Rainbow Bridge; Humble Administrator's Garden Interior decor of the Hall of  Distant Fragrance One of Suzhou's most popular sights, the Humble Administrator's Garden is a World Cultural Heritage site Close up of a colorful Mandarin male duck; Humble Administrator's Garden Interior of the Hall of 36 Pairs of Mandarin Ducks A sampling of the intricate carvings that can be seen at the Humble Administrator's Garden With a view like this, we finally understand the Chinese saying, "In the sky is Heaven's paradise, on Earth paradise is Suzhou and Hangzhou" The Humble Administrator's Garden is wildly popular with local and foreign tourists Beautiful scenery abounds at the Humble Administrator's Garden Robby hiding in a tree trunk; Humble Administrator's Garden There are over 5 hectares of streams, ponds, bridges and bamboo islands at the Humble Administrator's Garden Suzhou's picturesque Humble Administrator's Garden Snacks for sale; Suzhou A model struts her stuff; Kaldi Silk Factory A worker spins silk thread; Kaldi Silk Factory A worker demonstrates the art of stretching incredibly strong silk into thin, translucent layers It takes a half dozen workers to stretch the silk fabric into thin layers for the factory's most famous export: silk duvets Detail on a Suzhou monument Statue monument near the Grand Canal Boats Ticket Office; Suzhou The only remaining portion of Suzhou's old city wall stands in the background View of Wumen Bridge; Suzhou A pretty pagoda temple along Suzhou's canal Suzhou is often dubbed the "Venice of the East" due to its extensive canal system A picturesque view of Suzhou's canal system It seemed that almost every boat and house along Suzhou's canal system had to hang "obligatory" red lanterns A bonsai tree flourishes along the Suzhou's canal system A boat slowly passes under a curved bridge; Suzhou's canal system This Suzhou resident was drying hundreds of tiny fish by the riverbank A bridge over Suzhou's canal system A lion statue bridge marker with Tiger Hill's canal system in the background The riverbank leading towards Tiger Hill Chestnuts a-roastin' on an open flame; Tiger Hill The Fall foliage around the Tiger Hill's Cloud Rock Pagoda was extremely pretty Horse carriages are available for hire; Tiger Hill We laughed out loud when Amy suggested that we could hire a "throne" to carry us up to the top of Tiger Hill Robby squats down next to a Tiger Hill well that supposedly never runs dry Its a short walk to the top of Tiger Hill, where a tall obelisk marks the summit The founding father of Suzhou, He Lu, is buried here with his collection of 3000 swords Built in the 10th Century, the Yunyan Ta (Cloud Rock Pagoda) is an octagonal seven-story structure that has a slight "lean" to it A serene Buddha statue at one of Tiger Hill's temples Old Buddhist paintings; Tiger Hill More colorful foliage as we strolled past Tiger Hill's exit Lots of colorful flowers help beautify Suzhou Extreme close up view of a door panel scene carved over the entranceway; Garden of the Master of the Nets Our guide gave us a thorough briefing of this garden, and we were surprised to learn that the New York Metropolitan Museum built a replica "Spring Rear Garden" display; Garden of the Master of the Nets Garden of the Master of the Nets is Suzhou's smallest garden, but it uses its limited space remarkably well, giving it a feeling of being larger than it truly is Bonsai tree on display at the Garden of the Master of the Nets Lovely Suzhou paintings for sale at a shop at the Garden of the Master of the Nets One final look at Suzhou's prettiest garden A crowd free shot of the popular Garden of the Master of the Nets It was a short 10 minute walk from our Pacific Luck Hotel across this bridge to reach the Bund Shanghai real estate is some of China's most expensive and its easy to see why View of downtown Shanghai at night Night view of Pudong New Area district Becky strikes a silly pose beneath a "I heart Shanghai" sign; Bund area Courtyard incense burners at the Yufo Si (Jade Buddha Temple) One of the Jade Buddha temple's four guardians Visitors adorn the Jade Buddha temple with coin donations placed in every nook and cranny! The Jade Buddha Temple complex was packed on a Saturday morning with devotees scrambling to pray and pay their respects This is one of Shanghai's few active Buddhist temples and it is very popular with the locals Cloth draperies hang from the ceiling of the Jade Buddha Temple A serene feeling overtakes you inside the bustling Jade Buddha Temple Visitors to the temple carefully balance upright coins along the rim of this bowl We weren't sure if the Jade Buddha temple is always abundantly decorated with red ribbons A white marble Buddha (it is forbidden to photograph the white jade Buddha) The exterior walls of the Jade Buddha Temple A large gong hangs outside the Jade Buddha Temple foto gallery lightboxby v6.1

21 Nov 07: Our Emirates flight from Dubai arrived into Shanghai at about 1505. Our initial impressions of Shanghai’s Pudong International airport? Excellent…we were surprised at how organized and efficient the airport staff was, our experience at immigration was positive, and the baggage claim process was ever so efficient. In less than 30 minutes, we were through customs, and were greeted by a smiling Ms. Ching-Ching (Penny was her “English” name because saying her Chinese name out loud makes the sound of money). Unfortunately for us, we arrived during Shanghai’s rush hour, so our ride to our centrally located Pacific Luck Hotel was guaranteed to take over an hour. Penny took advantage of our captive audience by giving us a quick rundown on Shanghai’s history and significance.

We couldn’t find our hotel, the Pacific Luck Hotel (299 WuSong Rd), on our LP guidebook map, but were relieved to find out it was centrally located (a fifteen minute stroll to the Bund…a nighttime must!). After presenting our passports for registration and giving a 200 Yuan deposit on our room, we got our room card but couldn’t unlock our room with it. So Robby ran downstairs to get a new room card but somehow with the language barrier, was given someone else’s card key! After unwittingly entering someone else’s hotel room, he ran down again and was finally given a key card that unlocked our suite. So much for hotel security!

We only had a few minutes before heading right back out for dinner and a show, so we decided to forego unpacking until after we returned back from our first night out in Shanghai. Our dinner was at the Central Hotel’s “Wang Bao He” restaurant, where we were spoiled with succulent dumplings, tasty dim sum dishes, sweet chewy bean curd (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it), spicy chicken, corn soup, asparagus, fried shrimp and rice, topped off with green tea. Since we had been craving for Chinese food for months, this meal really hit the spot! With a big smile on our faces, we looked forward to weeks of dining on Chinese cuisine. Dinner was accompanied with music played on a pipa, a Chinese lute, strummed by a lady in the corner.

After dinner, we had a short ride to the Ritz Carlton’s Shanghai Center Theater, where an acrobatic show was prearranged for us. What a fantastic performance! We were so amazed at the acrobats and their ability to contort their muscular bodies in symphony. The show was only scheduled for an hour and a half, and we assumed there would be a short intermission. However, 90 mesmerizing minutes later, we were reluctant to leave the venue. What a great first impression of China! Little did we know but there was plenty more to come…

22 Nov 07 – Shanghai – Suzhou: Happy Thanksgiving! We had to check out of the Pacific Luck Hotel as tonight we were heading to Suzhou for an overnight visit. Obviously we weren’t listening to Penny the night before, because she had advised that we pack lightly (a day-pack) and store our large backpacks in storage for our return visit to Shanghai the day after. After muddling though our luggage at the last minute, we were finally packed and ready to go.

Thanksgiving celebrated in Shanghai was a cool experience! Actually, to be honest, until Penny mentioned that it was Thanksgiving, we had completely forgotten that today was the special day. We were more stoked with checking out China’s pulsating and up-and-coming city. First stop after stuffing ourselves silly with the breakfast buffet was a visit to Yuyuan garden, which is located in the old part of the city. Also known as the Yu Gardens Bazaar, the garden complex and surrounding streets are beautifully reconstructed in an “old style” collection of buildings and squares. Even though we visited off season on a Thursday morning, the streets were still packed with Chinese and foreign tourists alike, all marveling at this cool oasis of Shanghai.

The Yuyuan Garden complex was founded by rich Ming dynasty officials. Penny gave us a briefing on how important gardens are to the Chinese, as we admired the careful balance and blending of nature and man-made structures. Components of a classical Chinese garden will always include stones and rockeries, plants, water, temples and bridges. We enjoyed our brief introduction to Chinese gardens, although Penny advised us we’d get our fill tomorrow in Suzhou, where we’d visit two famous gardens. Afterwards, we visited the magnificent Shanghai Museum, which we had seen the night before from the highway. We were blown away by how cool the museum was…Penny got us two audio guides and advised us that the “must see” sections included the Ancient Chinese Bronze and Ceramics galleries (on the first and second floors, respectively), as well as the fourth floor’s Chinese Minority Nationalities Art and Coin galleries. We had about 2 hours here, but could have easily spent more time as the museum is beautifully laid out, and the audio guides were excellent. The displays have excellent showcases, and while neither one of us are huge museum buffs, we thoroughly enjoyed our experience here as this visit provided an excellent overview of China’s vast history. Becky ended up buying an Ethnic Minorities book which showcased China’s 55 minorities…fodder for a future Chinese adventure as we just love tribal customs, costumes, and traditions!

Lunch was a visit to a restaurant that is owned by a former Chinese soccer player. Wow, the Chinese love to eat out! We expected that the restaurants we’d be dining at would be full of tourists. Boy were we wrong! Oftentimes, we’d be the only foreigners in a noisy restaurant full of Chinese diners…for lunch today we enjoyed “bai chai” (white cabbage), fish with mushrooms, lamb, red tomato soup, and tea. We found the vegetables to be a pleasant surprise…simple but delicious and nutritious! After lunch, we were supposed to have a visit to a local family, but Penny informed us that one of the family members was feeling sick. Instead, she offered to take us to a nearby Confucius temple, as well as the French Concession. We agreed and found the Frenchtown area to be a sleek, hip, and lively area of Shanghai. Penny led us in via one of the side streets, where gorgeous old architecture is perfectly maintained. We could only imagine how much one of those neoclassical mansions would cost these days! We had no idea that Shanghai was split up into a number of concessions prior to WWII. The French Concession was an autonomous French state within China in 1847, after the first Opium War. French and Russian expats lived and thrived once in this neighborhood.

Next stop was a brief visit to the Bund for photos by the river front. What a panoramic vista! Not only do the Bund’s gorgeous building façades impress, but the view across to the Pudong New Area (Oriental Pearl TV tower and the entire eastern bank of the Huangpu River) are fantastic. Obviously we weren’t the only ones to think so! The pedestrian zone of the Bund was packed full of tourists, all vying to take their photo op with the backdrop of Pudong New Area.

We had a bit of time to kill before our evening train to Suzhou, so we decided to partake in the tea tasting ceremony at the North West end of the Bund. Penny pointed out that the British Public gardens used to showcase an infamous sign on undesirables that read “No Dogs or Chinese allowed”. Yup, Shanghai has come a long way! The tea tasting ceremony was actually pretty cool, and we got to try a bevy of tea: jasmine, green, chrysanthemum, and oolong. After trying as much tea as we wanted, the high pressure sales tactics kicked in and we would have bought some tea except even with the “specially marked discount”, it was way overpriced. So we declined and strolled through the adjacent “Treasure Museum” where gorgeous specimens of jade carvings were on display. We admired the carvings and saw that buying souvenirs on the Bund is not for the feint of heart. The prices here are astronomical! After walking back out, we realized that we hadn’t paid for our tea ceremony, so Robby ran back in and paid up. And to imagine if we’d kept our mouths shut we would have gotten away with it for free! But our guilty conscious would have kicked in, and the tea ceremony was actually very educational and well worth a visit.

Nanjing Lu (road) was our next stop, and this is Shanghai’s shopper’s paradise. At least one full kilometer of buying opportunities, as well as the “hello” opportunists and “art students just trying to practice my English and sell you my art” vultures. We loved it. Strolling from one end of the strip to the other, we heard and saw the full range of street scenes in action. Prices here are still astronomical…who actually does more than window shop on Nanjing Road? First timers to China is who! Robby ended up buying a chopstick set, which he found for a fraction of the price later on in our trip. But at least we got off lightly…we saw other tourists loaded with purchases and who knows what kind of a bargain they got! The important thing to keep in mind is that everything is negotiable, so bargain away if you must. At this point in the trip, Becky remembered how to say “too expensive” in Chinese as well as “don’t want”.

It was dark by the time we linked back up with Penny and our driver. Our express train from Shanghai to Suzhou was departing at 1910 and we had about an hour to get to the train station and buy our tickets. Amazingly, the tickets were only 26 Yuan each (a bargain) and we were handed off from Penny to our new Suzhou guide, Ai Mei (Amy) at the train station. After saying goodbye to Penny, we waited in the train lounge with Amy for our train to Suzhou. While we waited, Amy launched into Suzhou’s vast and interesting history. We learned that the Chinese have a famous saying, “In the sky is Heaven’s paradise, on Earth paradise is Suzhou and Hangzhou”. She explained that the Chinese perceive Suzhou and neighboring Hangzhou to be the closest things to heaven on earth. Perhaps this perception is due to Suzhou’s UNSECO World heritage gardens, which symbolize the harmony of heaven and earth. We were lucky enough to be visiting two of them tomorrow, “the Humble Administrator’s Garden” and “the Garden of the Master of the Nets”.

The train to Suzhou was fast, and we arrived just before 8 pm. From the station, we had to walk a short distance to our awaiting driver and van, which took us to the Bamboo Grove Hotel. The hotel was fantastic, and even though there was an indoor pool we seriously contemplated taking a dip in, we were both tired after our long day and decided to crash right after checking into our room.

23 Nov 07 – Suzhou – Shanghai: The Bamboo Grove Hotel’s breakfast buffet rocked. Breakfast was broken into a western section and a Chinese section. We focused primarily on the Chinese food and ate our fill of duck, beef with mushrooms, fried noodles and soy bean curd. What a yummy way to start the day. Amy had told us about the Bamboo Grove’s outdoor pavilion where geese and fish could be fed, but it was closed for the winter season. Too bad, because we were all set to feed them a healthy meal of our leftovers! After breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and waited in the lounge for Amy to show up for our day tour of Suzhou. The previous night, Amy explained that Suzhou is a city surrounded by a rectangular moat and a series of canals, with its city gardens tucked away behind obscure city walls. Our first agenda for the day was a visit to the Humble Administrator’s Garden, which our LP guidebook claims is “one of Suzhou’s best, second only to the Garden of the Master of the Nets”. Lucky for us, we were visiting both gardens today!

The Humble Administrator’s Garden was packed with Asian tour groups at 9 am. We couldn’t believe how many matching baseball caps and brightly colored T shirts were in the crowd. It was hard to gain a healthy perspective on the garden’s five hectares because people were dodging in and out of our views at every corner. Much to our relief, this massive influx of people was gone in an hour, leaving us to enjoy the garden in solitude. Amy gave us a full briefing of the garden’s many streams, ponds, bridges, bamboo and pavilions. With names like “the mountain in view tower” or “the small flying rainbow bridge”, we just soaked up the atmosphere and came away from this sight with a brand new appreciation for Chinese gardens. Definitely an eye opening experience, and we can certainly attest to the garden’s popularity!

After our visit to the garden, we pulled up to a silk factory (Suzhou Kaldi Silk Company,, where we were given a no hassle tour of the silk worm process, all the way up to spinning the silk into warm duvets. These were priced from 400 Yuan upward, and could be compressed into a flat, miniscule package if hand carrying back home. We weren’t too interested in buying one for ourselves, but made a mental note to see if our hotel’s duvets were made from silk or cotton. The silk ones certainly kept us warm and cozy all night long! Robby bought some small silk fans as presents, and we took a break to enjoy a lunch of fried rice, beef with bell peppers, shrimp, sweet & sour pork, green vegetables, mushroom soup, and water melon. Watermelon appears to be a popular “desert” meal, as we often found that most of our lunch and dinners were topped off with watermelon.

After lunch, we agreed to hire a boat to take us from the Grand Canal Boat ticket office past the Wumen Bridge, up the Waicheng He, towards Huqiu Shan (Tiger Hill). The price was a whopping $50 which we initially balked at since it was too steep. However, we soon realized that we were hiring an individual boat, and there wouldn’t be other tourists to help us offset the costs. We actually debated skipping the canal tour altogether, but since we were short on time and did want to experience this portion of Suzhou, we decided to pay up. Although the trip was a cool experience, the river boat captain got in a shouting match with Amy as he had clientele to pick up at 1400, and we arrived (late) to the dock at 1330. So he decided to put our boat in super overdrive to make the return trip in 30 minutes! Hardly the best conditions for taking photos with him zooming past the more scenic spots along the canal. But we enjoyed the short lived ride nevertheless, wondering in the back of our minds if we had been taken for a ride. Oh well, life is too short to dwell on things we have no control over! We reached tiger hill park and admired the fall foliage surrounding the leaning “Yunyan Ta” (Cloud Rock Pagoda), an octagonal seven story pagoda. This popular site was teeming with Chinese tourists, who climbed up the artificial hill to pay their respects to He Lu, the founding father of Suzhou. We saw the body of water where He Lu was buried next to, alongside his 3000 swords. After queuing in line, we were given a few seconds to walk through the Cloud Rock Pagoda, which is in remarkable shape considering it was originally constructed in the 10th Century! Once we were up close to the pagoda, we could really see its tilt, which began about 400 years ago.

After our visit to Tiger Hill, we greeted our driver by the parking lot, and headed off to the Garden of the Master of the Nets. Although this is one of the smallest of Suzhou’s gardens, we have to agree that it is probably Suzhou’s best! Amy gave us an in depth briefing of all aspects of the garden, and we were surprised to learn that the New York Metropolitan museum had designed and displayed an exact replica of the “Spring Rear Cottage” (also known as the master’s study). It was getting dark fast, and we wanted some free time to take some photos but we had to spend an obligatory few minutes in the painting store adjacent to the garden. Becky finally just walked off and started snapping away before the admission’s officer told us he was locking up for the night and kicked us out.

Our return train to Shanghai departed at 1850, and we still had over an hour to kill before it arrived. Instead of any more shopping excursions, we decided to hang out at the train station reading our books. We thanked Amy and our driver, and waited in the lounge area with our fellow passengers until we were notified to make our way to the correct platform. Our return tickets were a whopping 39 Yuan. While we weren’t on the express Suzhou – Shanghai train, we still got back to Shanghai in less than 40 minutes. Once we boarded the train, we noticed that there were people sitting in our assigned seats. As soon as we approached them, they hopped up without a word and stood perched next to us the entire ride back. We asked Penny about this and learned that they had most likely purchased a 1 Yuan entrance fee ticket (to gain entrance to the train station)…if the ticket police had actually conducted a shakedown, they would have either been fined or forced to buy the full price ticket on the spot.

Tonight was a Bund night, and we joined the throng of late night merry makers along Shanghai’s most romantic boardwalk. Beer from the local grocery store was a mere 4 Yuan, and night hawkers were cooking their wares right there on the side of the Bund. With such delicious smells wafting in the air, we couldn’t resist buying some street food and making a night of it. The night lights from the Bund’s buildings filled the sky, making for a fun (and cheap) night out.

24 Nov 07 – Shanghai – Yichang: We had planned on waking up early to head over towards Pudong New Area for a panoramic view of Shanghai from the TV tower. That was, until we heard that our flight had been bumped up from 1500 to 1300. Since we still had a visit to the Jade Buddha temple, we quickly calculated that we didn’t have sufficient time to do both. Instead, we had a leisurely morning where our only agenda was to eat, pack, and meet Penny in the lobby by 9 am. Once we linked up with Penny, she told us that we’d have to make a slight detour on the way to the Yufo Si (Jade Buddha temple) to stop by her office, where she had to pick up a copy of a questionnaire for us to fill out. Little did we realize it at the time, but each and every travel guide we had on our trip would require us to do the same. We were quite impressed that our feedback was so highly solicited…our only guess is that if there were any issues at all during the tour, the head office would find out in short order and still have time to rectify any problematic areas! After filling out the questionnaire and handing it back to Penny, we arrived at the Jade temple. Lucky for us, today was a full lunar moon day and the temple was packed with hundreds (perhaps thousands) of devotees praying in the courtyard and burning incense. It was a Saturday and many people had the day off. Somehow despite the long lines of visitors waiting to enter into the temples, the courtyard maintained a festive atmosphere with the crowds, incense and smoke. In fact, our visit to the Jade Buddha temple was the first place in Shanghai where we felt like we were truly in “China”, experiencing the China of old that we had imagined in our dreams. No photos of the 2 meter white jade Buddha were allowed, but elsewhere we were given free reign to snap away.

Lunch was at the “New Bund Restaurant”, a corner eatery on the Bund where the staff was ever so friendly and attentive. We could hardly take a sip of our tea before they were on us for refills. Same deal for our seaweed soup, and fried rice. We also had pear chicken (too sweet for Becky), and beef-n-onions, topped off with watermelons for desert. After lunch, we zoomed off towards the domestic airport to check in for our 1300 flight to Yichang. Thank goodness for Chinese efficiency and e-tickets. We arrived at the airport at 1230 and were a bit nervous about arriving so late, but Penny was completely unperturbed, and calmly had us checked in with boarding passes in hand in less than five minutes. After bidding her and our driver farewell, we boarded the plane at 1315 for the smooth and comfortable flight. Looking out our window seat, we could see mountains and rice paddies as we touched down at Yichang.

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