Our old friends Bill and Lil have now returned back to the UK after their second trip to China. After their last trip 10 years ago they are absolutely amazed at the difference in the country. When they came last time they were on a Government sponsored trip and had ‘discreet’ minders everywhere they went, and they did the tour of the Northern cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an and stayed in, what at that time, were the best hotels. On this visit they stayed and travelled with us and they found the difference astounding. Lil’s biggest shock was Peking duck, she kept describing it to us as lots of meat etc with the pancakes that they had on the last trip, I kept telling here that here in the south they only give you the crispy skin of the duck and no meat, she didn’t believe me and insisted on ordering it at the first opportunity, she looked at it in disbelief when the dish arrived, all I said was “I told you so!”
Our first trip out was to Hong Kong and so they could see more we went on an organised trip, which as it turned out we didn’t really see much more that if we had gone on our own, but they enjoyed it nonetheless, we took them up to the Peak, which is the highest point in Hong Kong so they could see all the sights but unfortunately it was very cloudy and low cloud at that so they could only see little bits of Victoria harbour.
The next trip out was our second trip to Lijiang (their first) and this was a real eye opener for them as we took them round the old part of the city and to an old village nearby where a local couple invited us in to their home. On their previous trip they were taken to a ‘poor’ family, but it turned out they had all the modern amenities like a TV and computer etc, this time they saw what ‘poor’ really looked like.
Bill and Lil are both knocking on 70 and soon found out that they aren’t able to do what they used to do, although Bill was ok, Lil really felt it. Our next part of the trip was to Chengdu, where they met lots of Rose’s family members, who looked after us in grand style, her cousin even paying for two rooms in the Intercontinental hotel, which blew us all away a little, being the kind of hotel we could never afford to go to normally. We will be returning the favour when she next visits us. Part of this trip was of course to the local Panda sanctuary, where they saw some very young (half year old) pandas along with teenagers and the oldies. Chengdu was mostly covered in fog (or smog) most of the time we were there, so although we had great views from our hotel windows, it was too misty to see!
We then returned home to Shenzhen for a couple of days rest and some local shopping, Lil had some dresses made by our friendly local tailor Rosie. and after the rest we went of on, again our second, their first, a trip to Yangshou, which is famous for it’s pointy topped mountains, they both felt they were on another planet once were were in the town and in amongst these strange mountains. We took them to a spectacular outdoor show that is put on every night in a specially made little lake area and this was the usual cast of thousands and amazing costumes and lighting that the Chinese do so well. The last bit of this trip was to the Silver Cave, which is an enormous place to walk through and is well lit and very spectacular to see. This tested Lil’s stamina to the hilt and needed a bit of a rest before we moved on off to a meal and then off to the airport to fly back to Shenzhen. We had another couple of days resting and they then met Happy, our dog as he had been away at is other ‘home’ while we travelled around. The very last place we visited was Splendid China, where we took them to see 3 of the shows that are put on every day, first was the battle of the horsemen. Not too sure who was who but it was all ancient Chinese stuff and someone won, Rose had a ride on one of the horses with one of the participants afterwards so she is now over her fear of horses. The next show was a normal over the top costume affair, and the last was an even more over the top affair with acrobats, jugglers dancers etc, depicting something like the 4 seasons (I think).
Today we took them to Hong Kong airport and saw them on their way, after that we wandered round the town and I bought myself a new Yamaha acoustic guitar to replace the old one of Julies that I have been using up till now. We discovered we could have bought it cheaper elsewhere but isn’t that always the case! We are now back home again and will be sleeping in our own bed once again as we gave it up for the visitors and we slept on the convertible couch that is in this back room I use. So I am now hoping for a better nights sleep!!
It has been nice to have people here that I can talk to without a translator even though they are from Scotland originally! So it is a little sad that I say goodbye to them and we will see them when we next go back to the UK.