July 2nd: We woke up at 6:30am, both of us feeling an overpowering temptation to just fall immediately asleep again– but we had a flight to catch. At about 7:40, ten minutes behind schedule, we went downstairs and checked out of the room.
The night before, I had spoken to the woman at the hotel desk about arranging a taxi to take us to the airport. “What time do you want to be at the airport?” she had asked. I replied 8:30. “What time is your flight?” she inquired. “10:30,” I said, “but we want to make sure to be there very early.” I asked her how long it took to get to the airport. “Oh, I think… about an hour,” she replied. “The roads are… very difficult.” I had no idea what she meant by that cryptic description, but I asked for a driver to pick us up at 7:30, and she confirmed that she would make the call.
July 1st: Woke up early to check whether the weather would be clear enough for us to visit Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. When I spoke with the woman at our hotel, she didn’t recommend it, as it was rainy and cloudy. I was disappointed, but on the bright side, we got to sleep in late. Continue reading
June 30th: Daniel awoke to find himself plagued with an upset stomach. Accordingly, we ate a thoroughly uninspiring lunch, opting for a cafe that required minimal walking. While waiting for our food, we stared mutely at a magazine rack. One publication in particular caught our attention. The cover depicted an overwhelmingly happy young woman, who stood on the steps of an imposing government building, taking a piece of paper from a similarly overjoyed government official. The headline read: “Grassroots Democracy Sprouts and Thrives.” We struggled not to snicker too conspicuously.
Immediately before eating, we discovered my not-so-trusty Rick Steves daypack, which had traveled all over Europe and Japan with us, had given up the ghost. (The main zipper, which had been persnickety from its first use, finally refused to do its job. Not a recommended purchase.) I’d have to buy a new bag. While Daniel rested, laid low with China-food-sickness, I struck out onto the streets on my own. Continue reading
June 29th: That morning, I spent a few last moments sitting in front of the Dragonfly, looking at the rice fields, spotting the man with his six goats and four cows walking by again. When the taxi dropped us at the bus station, we learned that the next bus did not depart for another two and a half hours. We settled down to wait in the bus station’s dirty little room, draping ourselves protectively over our luggage. To my deep chagrin, it dawned on me that I had to use the bathroom– never a welcome realization in China’s public places. Continue reading