I bought a hat.
I do not like hats. My head is too big to wear a hat. I don't like how I look in hats. I haven't owned a hat in decades.
But (a) Beijing is going to involve a lot of walking in hot sun (100 degrees predicted) in places like Tianenmen Square and the Forbidden City where there is no shade whatsoever. AND, I found this adjustable hat in the gift shop here. It fits my head. AND it rolls up into a nice package so it is easily packable. AND...when will I have the chance to buy a hat in China again?
I can also wear it to Giants games. Maybe. But anyway, here is my brand new China hat.
(I look like my father, with breasts.)
I love getting up at 4 a.m. here. I have the boat all to myself. The hallways are dark, they haven't turned on the lights anywhere yet, the computer room is empty (lights on there) and I usually am totally alone for the first hour, then the other early birds start arriving, about the time the sky starts getting light. And someone from the staff brings out hot or warm croissants and pastries. I will miss that when we move to Xian tomorrow.
This morning at 4 a.m. we were already docked at Shibaozhai, where we were to take a tour of the 12-story pagoda here.
I already knew I wasn't going to climb a 12-story pagoda. My knee has been bothering me and I've been pampering it, thinking of the upcoming trips to all those places in Beijing. I've been taking the elevator instead of the stairs and trying to keep activity to a minimum. When I woke up this morning, the knee felt better than it has in days and I wasn't going to jeopardize that. (Turns out that was probably a good idea. Walt reports that to get to the pagoda, which sits on an island, you have to cross a suspension bridge with slats as a walkway and it swayed back and forth. Char said she about threw her hip out crossing it.)
After I finished posting yesterday's entry this morning, I watched the sun come up at Shibaozhai...
...and I watched the "laundromat" at the river's edge.
The clothes washing went on all morning, and early in the day, a gentleman was either praying or doing exercise (I couldn't tell which) while others set up the ubiquitous vendor stalls. Finally all those who were going ashore departed and I was left here more or less alone.
It was fully my intent to make best use of the alone time...and I guess I did. I slept the entire time! Ron says jet lag has caught up with me. I'm not sure if it's jet lag or roaming around the ship at 4 a.m. every morning. But the nap did feel great and Walt came back with his own China hat (this is about the same time he bought a Russia hat in Uglich last year).
It was a quiet day, activity wise. We had a disembarcation talk, telling us what we need to know to leave the ship tomorrow (like the 100 steps we need to walk up to get us to the bus and what to pay the stick men who will want to carry our carry-on bags for us). Tomorrow we will visit the zoo in Chonqing and see the pandas, the one thing I was really excited to see here. Then it's onto a plane to fly to Xian, have a city tour and go to a show tomorrow night.
This afternoon we had a tour of the ship's bridge, which is just a few steps from our room.
It was a very relaxing afternoon. I napped (again) and we sat and watched the river life pass by. We saw a guy tending a herd of goats, some farmers hoeing a field at the very top of a tall slope, we watched more farmers harvesting corn from a cornfield and these guys who were taking their cows sailing.
We also saw what one of the servers in the bar said was the "ghost god" high atop a hill. (I'll have to look that up and see what it is!)
And toward the end of the evening, we passed this boat, whose passengers seemed as interested in taking pictures of us as we were in taking pictures of them.
A lot of people broke out their brand new Chinese clothes for the farewell dinner
Knowing what a klutz I am and envisioning spilling everything down my new expensive front, I opted to leave my jacket packed safely in my suitcase!
We ended the evening with toasts, delicious food, camaraderie and an exchange of e-mail addresses. Of course we still have several days together, but it will probably not be quite like it has been on the Viking Emerald. I will spend the evening packing up so we can leave the ship and prepare to see pandas and then fly to Xian.
We will see Cherry and Joly at breakfast tomorrow, but they looked so lovely in their formal dresses, I had to take a final picture tonight.
Our cabin person, Coco, has been leaving little gifts on our pillow each night. I particularly liked tonight's.
So it's off to Xian, pandas, terracotta warriors, and the next phase of this amazing adventure.