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Old 04-12-2012, 03:16 PM   #76
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Your reports have been amazing!
You deserve a break from reports. Enjoy the last days of your trip and send us pictures and more details when you are refreshed!!

Thank you for painting such a beautiful visual of this trip!
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:09 AM   #77
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Day 7 of the Adventure

The day started by drawing our curtains and seeing gumdrop mountains in our magnificent view from our room. We couldn't see them when we checked in because it was so dark so the reveal in the morning was magnificent. Again, the Mouse arranged for us to all have a view.

The breakfast buffet at this Shangrila was better, in my opinion, than the one in Chengdu. After breakfast, we had an optional tai chi lesson. Because it was raining, we did the tai chi in the hotel. Wow, it's hard and hard to believe it's good for stress. Hahah. Our meetup time for the bus was 9:30 or 10 (I think ... I can't remember). The day before, the guides asked us what we wanted for our boxed lunch: veggie, tuna or something else sandwich. Most of us picked tuna. We were told the boxed lunchesnwerembecause the kitchen on the Li River boats were scary. They weren't wrong.

It was a very grey and rainy day when our bus took off on our journey to meet the boat. Our boat was our boat and not to be shared with anybody else. Apparently this had to be negotiated with the Chinese government....apparently many months of negotiation. On board this ship was 1 western toilet and on our bus, a woman hired to clean the toilet. We gave her a huge round of applause.

The power of the Mouse was strong. As we arrived at the dock, an hour of driving through amazing countryside, the rain stopped. It was still a pretty grey day and misty but that contributed to the mystique of the gumdrops. We dumped our lunches in the cabin and then ascended to the top deck to take photos and to take the majesty of the mountains in. It was the most awe inspiring scenery. You cannot believe That you're actually there looking at these natural wonders, or the water buffaloes, and other water craft of varying seaworthiness. We stayed out on the deck for about an hour or a little more than an hour when Daisy told everybody that we should eat our lunches. We all obediently went below to eat causing Daisy to remark that she felt that she really was our "mommy"!

Our lunch consisted of a soggy bread filled to the brim with tuna and a bit of cucumber, a banana, orange juice and a salad (with thousand islands dressing). It was edible ... but I'm not much of a sandwich person and even less of a tuna person. While we ate, it started to downpour outside. The Mouse has impeccable timing. After eating, Jennae and Daisy pulled out a jug of noxious paint cleaner that passed for booze in those parts. It had some interesting ingredients still in the jug ... Which is for future adventurers to discover and not for me to reveal.

Then the guides handed everybody 20 RMB and told us that when the ship docked, we would be in Yangshao, where there was this market. We were to use the 20 RMB and buy a gift for a white elephant gift exchange in the evening. We were to practice our bartering skills as taught by the master her self, Jennae. She told us about buying a crapload of scarves in this market for an extremely good price. That's when the women of the group banded together at one stall and bought a huge crapload of scarves with the price negotiated by Jennae. A record number of 51 scarves and pashminas were purchased for 580 RMB. Do the math... Those silk scarves cost less than $2 each.

After that it was time to buy the white elephant gift. I thought about how Kevin bought a white elephant on his Italian ABD but I wasn't sure what the white elephants at this market were made of ... Ivory or plastic ... Neither of which I wanted. I need up getting a hand painted glass snuff bottle with pandas on it. I found my parents later and they still had not bought aything so I went into full bartering mode (I can do it when it's not for me... ). Negotiated 2 t-shirts for 40 RMB. The vendor called me back about 4 times.

Oh, it stopped raining while we shopped. The timing was uncanny.

It was time to board the bus for the trip back...and it started to rain again. We got back to the hotel with time to clean up and pack for tomorrow before our BBQ dinner at the hotel. Dinner was outside under cover but it was actually a tad on the chilly side. The hotel brought out a bunch of heaters for us. They bbqed chicken, pork and beef...and some sausages. Wasn't bad at all. After dinner it was time for the white elephant exchange. My poor dad was first to pick and got a big Chinese fan. Ha! Nobody ever tried to steal it fom him. The evening of white elephants was truly fun. I nearly peed in my pants because of hard I was laughing. Now, our little group had bonded already but this evening was like icing on a cake. So, so fun. And Jennae needs to get her own television show.

This was also movie night ... and we watched ... what else, Mulan! I left for my room after the second song.

Bags outside the room for 7:30 (I think). Shanghai was next!
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Old 04-14-2012, 11:34 AM   #78
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Old 04-14-2012, 04:39 PM   #79
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Wow. Amzing pictures. It doesn't get anymore exotic than that!
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Old 04-15-2012, 11:15 AM   #80
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Beautiful! What an amazing sight those Gumdrop mountains are!

That boat deck you're posing on looks MIGHTY slick!

What did you end up with for the White Elephant exchange?

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Old 04-15-2012, 11:26 AM   #81
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Such awesome pictures. I just love, love your trip report. Excited every day to see if there is a new entry. Can't wait to read about Shanghai.
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Old 04-15-2012, 11:05 PM   #82
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sayhello View Post
Beautiful! What an amazing sight those Gumdrop mountains are!

That boat deck you're posing on looks MIGHTY slick!

What did you end up with for the White Elephant exchange?

Sayhello
The deck was ok..the steps were slippery though. Our guides were always watching and reminding us to be careful. They really our our moms. On our way exiting the bus at the hotel, I think somebody slipped on the steps of the bus. I was still on the bus when I heard ... plunk, plunk, plop and everybody outside going, 'Ohhhhhhhhh'. When I got out, though, it was as nothing happened.

In the White Elephant, I got a wall scroll for "winter". Coincidentally, my mom go the wall scroll for "fall". Obviously somebody got a deal on scrolls. LOL One of the funniest gifts was the rubber chicken. I almost peed in my pants when everybody was waving their gifts around to be stolen and there was a lull in the yelling and all you heard was, "waaaaaongggg" as the rubber chicken was squeezed. It's funny ... all the sights, the amazing wonders and the white elephant is a highlight in this trip. Just goes to show how human friendship trumps all.

I'm now home so will be able to type a report faster and upload photos easier. But it's time to recover from the trip home. My next trip back to the area won't happen until at least 2014 or 2015 when Shanghai Disneyland opens.
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Old 04-17-2012, 11:48 PM   #83
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Day 8 of the Adventure

Forgive me but since I'm not doing this the day after anymore, I can't remember a lot of the times for the morning meetup. Anyway, as we met in the morning to board the bus to the hotel, Jennae was sorting out our boxed lunches. Yes, again, we were getting boxed lunches from the Shangri La Guilam because ABD didn't want us to rely on the airline supplied lunch... just in case it was ... squid paste (hey, the guides said this, not me.) So off we trudged onto the bus with our tuna sandwiches. (Ugh...I do not want to see another tuna sandwich in a very long time). As I mentioned earlier, we were given orange juice in the boxes and some people abandoned them at the hotel. We were told just to make sure we had drank them before heading to security.

Our guide Joyce (i have a hard time remembering some of the guides because at one point, it seemed they all started with the letter "J" ) spoke a bit more about Guilam and then sang us a song.

Arriving at the airport, we met Daisy, Steven and Joe who had checked all of our luggage and gotten our boarding passes. Daisy handed back our passports and we went to security. My family gave our orange juices and some sealed bottles of water to a lady whose job, I think, was cleaning up the area where people left their liquids. We told her the bottles were still sealed, in case she didn't notice, and she smiled and took off with her free drinks. We all said good-bye to Joyce and went through security. Its interesting to note that our flight from Beijing to Chengdu was mostly filled with Chinese as was our flight to Xian. Our flight from Xian to Guilam however filled up with tourists from Germany (I think). The number of tourists flourished in Guilam and the flight to Shanghai was loaded with tourists ... some who probably came with us from Xian! By the way, it wasn't squid paste but chicken and rice on the plane. It's always chicken and rice. Even if you don't want the chicken and rice or hot meal, take the little box it comes with ... it has a bottle of water in it along with some other stuff you may be interested in (wetnap, salad, cookies).

When we got to Shanghai, Daisy and the shadows again raced to baggage claim while we assembled in the area outside the jetway. Jennae announced that we had reached Shanghai and all the toilets were very happy and western. Us women practically ran to the toilet. Shanghai signified the end of the Toilet Adventures.... thank goodness. When we arrived in baggage claim, Daisy, the shadows (Steven and Joe) and the porters were still grabbing our bags. We waited in an area out of the way with Jennae and our Shanghai guide who I can't believe I can't remember her name, until 5 porters pushing carts of our luggage passed us and we followed them out. (We only had 26 people --guests and guides -- on our tour. It will be interesting to see how many porters will be needed for the 40 plus tours in June.) The luggage got loaded into a big white van while we loaded onto a bus.

On the bus we were told that when we arrived at the Peninsula Shanghai, we would be taken to the boardroom where we we would be given a presentation on how our room works. They weren't kidding!!! We sat down in this board room, then hotel staff members came to each family with the room keys and then started the Powerpoint presentation on how to operate the curtains, the lights, the nail dryer, the bathtub, the free coffee maker (Nexpresso!!!!!), the VOIP free international calling, etc. etc. etc. And then ... we went to our room. Holy crap. The BEST hotel I've ever stayed in. My brother and I had adjoining rooms with my parents so we had a community foyer and then our separate rooms ... it was like one huge suite. I love expresso and the coffeemaker in the room was to die for. I mean, if I could have that instead of the Keurig, I would but these machines cost a small fortune. There was a dressing room ... a DRESSING ROOM!! The shower had a rainforest shower head. It was a beautiful room. Our luggage soon arrived and then we received a small fruit platter.

We met in the lobby at 6:00 for dinner. The bus took us to M on the Bund. We had been told earlier that if we wanted to dress up, this was the night to do it. Some people dressed up and others didn't. It was no biggie. Dinner was French.

Ok, so here is one of my complaints about this ABD tour. At the beginning of the tour, they provided Chinese cuisine almost ad nausem but once we left Beijing, we had only one Chinese meal (our arrival dinner in Chengdu) and this would persist until our last night in Shanghai.

So dinner tonight was French ... a choice of Lamb or smoked salmon. Well, beware ... when most of us read smoked salmon, we thought smoked salmon like lox. My parents do not eat lamb or smoked salmon so they were in a quandry. They thought of ordering the kids steak and fries. We told Jennae and the restaurant manager came and suggested that they could make them a chicken dish because the kids steak wasn't big enough for an adult. (My mom would argue that but my dad probably wouldn't.) So my parents got a chicken dish. Well, the smoked salmon came an was a salmon that wasn't lox but a salmon prepared in a way my parents would have eaten it. It was, in essence, a salmon steak. My parents' chicken dish turned out to be something like Chicken Marakesh (according to one of our fellow ABDers who loves Morrocco in Epcot... ). My mom liked it but my dad wasn't impressed.

We went out onto the terrace of the restaurant that looked onto the amazing skyline of new Shanghai. We took many photos, probably annoying all the diners on the terrace but we have the power of the Mouse behind us so we didn't care. After dinner, we were given a choice of walking back to the hotel or going back on the coach. Most of us decided to walk back. Some of the older ABDers, including my parents, decided to take the coach. It wasn't a long walk back so I think my parents could have made the walk back.

My brother and I walked along the Bund back to the hotel taking a lot of night photos. One thing that has struck me about China is the large number of people smoking. I thought Europe was bad but China (and Hong Kong) were worse. Practically everybody smokes. As a non-smoker, I was glad to see that nobody on our tour smoked but the populace smokes so you can't get away from it. Even as we walked along the river, it's not fresh air you smell but cigarette smoke. Oh well...

There's a clock tower in that area ... listen to it chime. Every 15 minutes it'll chime but on the hour, it'll do the extensive chime song. Those going in May and June ... lets see if you recognize the tune.

We got back to our room and I made myself a decaf coffee and that was the end of Day 8.
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Old 04-18-2012, 12:32 AM   #84
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The boxed lunch. <shudder>


Jennae and Daisy stamping the Junior Adventurers' passports at the airport


Our fruit platter courtesy of the Peninsula


Smoked salmon (really...)


Shanghai at night


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Old 04-18-2012, 07:53 AM   #85
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Beautiful pictures of Shanghai at night!
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Old 04-18-2012, 08:10 AM   #86
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Wow, beautiful pictures of Shanghai!
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Old 04-18-2012, 12:21 PM   #87
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I agree! Beautiful pics of Shanghai!

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Old 04-18-2012, 08:16 PM   #88
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Day 9 of the Adventure

We started our day after breakfast with a bus ride to Fu Xing Park for our sword dancing and fan dancing lesson. The park is full of people dancing in all kinds of manners. We drew a crowd of people who wanted to watch us fumble our way through our dance lesson. This one guy either liked us very much or was a government agent. He kept taking photos of the group. At one point his lens was on top of my mom's head and it bopped her once. My mom was kind of annoyed at him. Despite the gawkers, we had a lot of fun. The kids had lots of fun with the swords and fans. Our teachers were wonderful and patient. They had to be! We had our photos taken with them afterwards. One of our group jumped in with a group of ladies and danced with them ... a little more loose and sexier than them. The ladies loved her and laughed with her as she did her moves.

We then loaded onto a bus and headed to Yu Gardens. There was a huge marketplace ... kind of a huge tourist trap if you ask me but lots of locals seem to be there too so who knows. We walked through the area to Yu Gardens where we saw some pretty awesome landscaping and architecture. After the gardens, we were allowed some free time. We were told to meet back at a certain time but we should get lunch. I think most of us ended up eating at the McDonalds. We had an early dinner that night so I think McDonalds was just easy to get stuff and not overeat. My brother and I did some shopping. We found a post office so my brother was able to buy some collectors stamps. I bought some tea. Our guide took those who were interested in silk to a silk store and this silk was good stuff. There was quality in the silk and in the stitching of the clothes. You didn't bargain (much) here. There was a beautiful silk robe here but I think it was meant for the emperor. It was not Chinese priced.

It was a drizzly, rainy day. When we got back on the bus, they said they could drop some of us off at the Financial Building (the tallest building in Shanghai) where we could look out the observation deck or drop us back at the hotel. (Free time). My dad, mom and I along with 2 other families decided to try our luck on the observation deck. So, they dropped us off there and reminded us to be in the lobby at 5:00 for our dumpling dinner. Well, our view on the observation deck, was of clouds. We were in a heavy cloud layer. Every once in a while, a hole would form in the clouds and you could see down. It's a shame. The day before or the morning after, the weather was absolutely perfect. Oh well.

We took a taxi back to the hotel and it was really painless. I spent the rest of the afternoon packing for the next day's flight to Hong Kong.

Now a story about my brother and how great the guides are. My brother let the guides know back in Beijing that he wanted to go to the Hooters of Beijing (also known as the American Owl Restaurant). Daisy and Jennae actually looked it up and they wrote it on a card for my brother to give the taxi driver in Beijing. Shadow guides Steven and Joe knew where it was too and were interested in my brother's photos. Well, there was no time to go to the Hooters in Chengdu. BUT lo and behold, there's a Hooters in Shanghai. My brother wanted to go to it on his free time so he got directions from the guides on how to get there from the hotel. ha! He didn't need them. After the bus dropped us off at the Financial Tower, they dropped my brother off at the Hooters. Now THAT'S taking care of your guests!!

Dinner that night was at Ting Tai Fung, the famous dumpling place. This was the BEST meal of the entire trip. Dumplings are simple but tasty. The hot and sour soup was one of the best I've ever had and I've had a lot. You do not want to miss this meal. And if you have room for dessert, there's a Coldstone Creamery across from the restaurant.

That evening's entertainment was Era, acrobats in the style of Cirque du Soleil. We had prime seats. We were also warned not to take photographs or video during the show but at the end of the show we could take photos. I left mine behind on the bus. It was becoming a burden carrying it. Ok...I won't say why but... take your camera. Anyway, the show was fun. I mean, I've seen Chinese acrobats before but these guys had their own charm. The last act with a gazillion motorcycles buzzing around in a giant hamster ball was quite spectactular. I think I heard somebody mention that some of the acrobats that work at Epcot have come from here.

Then it was back to the hotel and that's the end of Day 9.

By the way, as the tour has gone on, the weather has gotten progressively hotter. And at the end of the report, I'll list all the airlines we took so you can check them out.
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Old 04-18-2012, 08:32 PM   #89
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Our sword dancing master and fan dancing master in Fu Xing park.




Jennae and Daisy show us how it's done (at least in a still photo)


There's dancing in the park.


Yu Gardens








A partial view from the observation deck of the Financial building


Shanghai Disneyland blurb!!


McDonalds! They didn't have the fried chicken they had up on the board so I settled for this.


Ok, this sign amused me. It had a Canadian maple leaf on it but then said their beef came from Australia. Uh... what's the point of the maple leaf then?


The best hot and sour soup.


Dumplings.... Xiao Long Bao dumplings to be specific (soup dumplings)


ERA
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Old 04-20-2012, 02:23 PM   #90
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Beautiful pictures!
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