Day 23 - Saturday June 21, 2008

On the way home:

Our 28th wedding anniversary is today!! and with the time zone changes in our traveling, we get to celebrate this whole "day and a half" by sitting beside each other - all the way back to Halifax! Little did I know our trip home would stretch to almost 40 hours of actual travel time.

So, we had a lovely breakfast at the hotel. Although expensive for China, we started off with watermelon and pineapple, then moved on to the middle course; I had grilled tomatoes and cabbage and squash with scrambled eggs and Michael had his regular baked beans, hash browns, eggs and bacon. Then for the final course we had coffee and croissants.

The highlight of my breakfast was helping an older British fellow who I noticed was having trouble with the self-serve espresso machine - since I'd already gotten a coffee for Michael I knew how it worked. He had been pressing several buttons and waiting, then I did the same thing - but turns out that the machine was out of water, so, so much for helping. He said he’d never had espresso before and was somewhat impatient - I told him the coffee was worth the wait because it tasted so good - he chuckled.

The two above pics were taken from our hotel window - we were so excited to see a blue sky - it was basically the first "clear" day (the term is relative) we'd had for 3 weeks.

Most of our packing was done the previous night - and miraculously we managed to get our large tea set into my red suitcase (woohoo!); first emptying it completely, and then stuffing a bit of clothing on the sides, in the tea box itself, and on top, with all of my shoes fitting on the inside upper sections. The rest of my few pieces of clothing went into Michael’s bag. (Good thing that clothes in my size were hard to find in China!)

We checked out and took a taxi to the airport (it was 102 rmb - 14 dollars), about a half hour drive.

These aren't great shots from the taxi, but they give some idea of the buildings in Beijing.

Bye-bye Chinese people!

Thanks for letting me visit you!

Hey, that's blue sky!

I got to roll my window down for the above photo - but I had a sense that the driver was not impressed so I rolled it back up.

Very strange building

close up of the same

This building in the centre (with a pole in front of it) is still under construction (it has a huge hole in it) will be the new television station building - CCTV.

Approaching the airport

Shiny and new

A steam fountain. I noticed that it's typical in China for hotels and other buildings to use many little pots for their plants - inside and outside - instead of one big long planter. I think it's another sign that they have a lot of cheap labour available to them.

During our 3 hour wait at the airport we met 4 students from the
University of Florida who had been on a month long course in China with a couple of professors - they stayed in Xi’an - the city where the terra cotta warriors are and where Butterfly, one of Michael’s students at Huang Hui University, are from. Some of the students were going home, some were going on to Hong Kong and one, after Hong Kong, was going on to Thailand and Cambodia. Very pleasant students - strangely they had no particular American accent.

So we boarded the airplane on time and without thinking anything of it I ate most of the first meal offered (big mistake). After that my stomach didn't feel too good. I didn't sleep much on the plane (normal for me).

Here's how long it took us to get home:

- arrive 3 hrs early at Beijing airport

- 13 hr flight to New York (I got maybe 1 hour total sleep)

- 5.5 hrs waiting in a freezing airport for our plane to Halifax

- 1 hr wait for the plane to taxi on the runway

- 2 hr flight from New York to Halifax

- 1.5 hr back to Boston (fog)

- 7 hrs in a Boston hotel (no sleep, sick with diarrhea all night)

- 3 hrs wait for our plane to Halifax
- 1.5 hrs to Halifax

- 1 hr to get out of the airport with security

- 3/4 hr to get home by 1 pm on Sunday afternoon

Total travel time: 39.25 hours - but I'm not complaining, because, uh, see the ad below? A pic on the back of the seat of our taxi cab asking for help for the earthquake victims.

So that's it - we had a wonderful time in China and I'm very thankful to have had the opportunity to visit such a different land.

lots of love,

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