The Rest of the Trip

Since my son had been married in July and he had just started his job again, there was no reason for them to hurry off for a Honeymoon. They spent the morning returning clothes from the wedding and all the other tidbits of things that have to be handled. The four of us then headed to one of the two “entertainment’ destinations in that city. We went to the aquarium.

It was a beautiful day. The humidity was not quite as high as it had been before. The aquarium was situated on the shores of the East China Sea. Any time I am near a beach, the Crab that I am, I am happy. The place was crowded, but not exceptionally so. I enjoyed just taking our time and touring the exhibits. The clear plexiglass walk through was kind of fun watching all the animals swim all around us. It’s too bad it was so humid inside the tube that it was uncomfortable to stay long. Just watching my son and his wife was fun enough. Realizing that he was so grounded and not in a mood to pick a fight was even more priceless.

They had picked 9-10-11 to be wed because of some Chinese number reasoning. They were officially married on 7-8 so fortunately for my son, he should not have too much trouble remembering the dates. 7-8-9-10-11. Evidently it was a lucky day for weddings. However, not everyone could book venues on that day so there were still weddings happening on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

That evening my friend offered to take us out to dinner. We had a lovely meal, (another great George) and a good time just talking. Then we had a problem. They didn’t take Visa. My friend couldn’t pay for the meal. Fortunately, my son still had enough cash on him so we were able to leave the restaurant. We returned to the hotel and I used my debit card in the ATM to withdraw the amount to pay him back. Some how we got all our finances straightened out and the evening ended.

Fortunately, because of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, Nathan did not have to return to work on Monday so he had an extra night with his wife. Monday morning the bus arrived to take him and his fellow co-workers back to work. It was quite sad to see him go so soon. We really hadn’t had much time to really visit. But on the other hand, it was nice because there was not much time to irritate him either. That is a good thing. I do not enjoy it when my son gets mad.

That night many of Julie’s family gathered to eat. It is a harvest festival, not unlike the American Thanksgiving. It’s an event  for good conversation and fun with the family. We were invited to join them. There was only one problem. It was on the fourth floor and the elevator was not working! We had to climb up three flights of stairs. Julie ran up to get some of her cousins to help us climb the stairs. Barb has arthritic knees and the muscle strength in my thighs has been severely sapped. Two people each came down to help us. I couldn’t get through to them that it would be better if I could hold onto the railing and pull myself up. I guess we created quite a sight.

Once again Julie was the only one in her family that spoke English so she was quite busy interpreting. They showered us with gifts again and I had a chance to tell them how much it meant to me to feel so accepted into their family.

Tuesday morning we had a late check out and then sat in the lobby for about an hour waiting for Julie and her mother to return from yet another wedding. Then we were off to the airport. Traffic was light. There was a World Economic Forum being held in Dalian and the government had ordered both Monday and Tuesday as traffic control days. Depending on the last number of the license plate, you were only allowed to drive one of those two days. I wondered if Americans would abide by that.

We headed for Beijing. We had three nights and two days. We had a tour of the major sites of the town and then headed to the Forbidden City where the Emperors lived for hundreds of years.

I was totally amazed. By this time I was able to walk all around without any pain. I was so thrilled. Taking myself off statins and substituting other supplements was helping tremendously.

Following that we went to a restaurant chain called the Peking Duck. They are kind of the equivalent of McDonald’s as far as keeping track of the number of ducks sold. Our certificate said the was something like the so many billionth duck! They serve every part of that duck, including the intestines which they actually did name chop suey. The trained chef makes 108 cuts in the duck. It was amazing to watch.

In the afternoon we traveled to the Summer Palace and walked around the grounds. On the dragon boat heading to the island I started a conversation with an obvious American. When I told her where I was from, she said another woman on the boat was from Fort Worth. She too was retired and last taught in a school two miles from my home!

The last major trip we made was to the Silk and Pearl Market. The large pearl market was being renovated. I can’t imagine what it looked like. This place was like the jewelry, clothing, toy, knicknack departments of Wal-Mart on super steroids. I have never seen such a place. Whole floors devoted to booth after booth of wares.

This is just one booth out of probably more than 100. As I walked around I saw a very pretty sweater. I was told the price and I said it was too much. I continued to walk. Julie stayed behind. When she caught up with me she handed me a bag. She had said to the clerk, “I’m Chinese. I know what this costs. Tell me what you want.” Believe me, it was significantly cheaper. If I get to go to such a market again with her, I’m packing my bag with space bags next time!

That was basically our trip. We did manage to have two wonderful massages while we were there and eat at a Mexican restaurant. The day we left we found a cab driver that actually agreed to take all four of us to the airport. There is a problem with drivers there. They prefer only one customer so they can pick up other paying customers along the way. It cost 10RMB plus a gas surcharge of 2 RMB for the extra distance. That’s about $7.20 for at least a 15-20 mile drive!

We had time in the airport to visit leisurely some more over coffee then it was time to board. It was one of the greatest experiences in my life. I’m not sure how I will manage it, but hopefully I will be going back some time next summer. I can’t wait to see my new family!


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