Easter Sunday, April 20, around twenty Mature Friends boarded a
Delta Boeing 767 heading for Shanghai with one stop to change
planes in Tokyo’s Narita Airport. Actually a couple people had
gone early by themselves to get a jump on the tour. After flying
all night, we landed at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport at
about 10:00 p.m.
After retrieving our luggage, we boarded a bus that took us to our
hotel in a driving rainstorm. By the time we got to the hotel and
checked in, it was almost midnight, and we were more than ready to
lay our jet-lagged bodies on a comfortable bed.
Overview of the Trip
As you can see from the list of cities and stops, our ambit ious
tour bit off a big chunk of China. You’ve heard of the movie Planes,
Trains, and Automobiles
, haven’t you? Well, our tour
could have been titled Planes, Trains, Buses, and Boats
In addition to the transoceanic flight, we took four domestic
- Shanghai to Guilin
- Guilin to Wuhan
- Chongqing to Xian
- Xian to Beijing
We hopped one bullet train ride from Shanghai to Suzhou.
We took a half-day cruise down the mythical Li River from Guilin
to Yangshuo, a three-day cruise on the Yangtze River to the Three
Gorges Dam, explored the Lesser Gorges aboard sampans.
Finally, our buses picked us up every morning at our hotel and
sometimes we had long rides from place to place, taking three
hours or more, depending on traffic. There’s a saying that if you
can drive in China, you can drive anywhere.
Meals and Water
Each morning, our hotels offered breakfast buffets, including in
the price of the tour. The breakfasts were varied, with some
Western food, but mostly Chinese food, along with an occasional
buffet with some sushi. In addition, the price of the tour
included almost all of our lunches and dinners! At the lunches and
dinners, we split into two groups of nine or ten at round tables
and ate Chinese style with servers placing platters of food on a
central lazy Susan. Lunches and dinners included juice-size glass
of beer or a soft drink apiece and often a pot of hot tea to pass
Our guide warned us not to drink the tap water anywhere in China
unless we boil it. Fortunately, our hotel rooms came with an
electric pot for boiling hot water for tea and a refrigerator.
Therefore, the restaurant staff served no fresh water at any meal,
but the bus carried bottled water for a small price per bottle, or
we carried our own bottled water. Some of us got creative and
boiled tap water, bottled it, and stuck the bottles in the
But enough with the introduction, let’s tour China!