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 ambitious tour bit
off a big chunk of China. You’ve heard of the movie Planes, Trains,
, 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 flights:
- Shanghai to Guilin
- Guilin to Wuhan
- Chongqing to Xian
- Xian to Beijing
We took one bullet train ride from Shanghai to Suzhou.
We took a half-day cruise down the mythical Li River from Guilin to
Yangshuo and a three-day cruise on the Yangtze River to the Three Gorges
Dam. Next we 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 refrigerator overnight.
But enough with the introduction, let’s tour China!