China - September/October 2005


This is the diary of a 3-week trip to China which started on 15 September 2005 and ended on 4 October 2005.  We went with Bill and Mary.  The itinerary was devised  by Jane and Mary after consultation with the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide.  It was organised by Lily, a Chinese guide we'd first met in 2001, and her mentor Frank who lives in Guilin, the same city as Lily.  Jane booked the return flight to Shanghai and Mary booked a return flight to Hong Kong.  The rest was left to Lily.  The cost of the trip, excluding the return flights, was approximately £1750 per person.  The rate of exchange was £1 = 14 Yuan (RMB) or $1 = 8 Yuan. Here is the final itinerary sent by Lily via email to Jane and Mary, and here is a map showing the route taken.

Briefly, here's how we spent each day:

So now read on ...

(But first be aware that most links are to photographs which may take time to load.  A link from a day's date is to a full set of photographs while a link within a day is to a single photograph.  If you click on 'Yuan', 'km', 'li', or 'metres' you will be shown 'GBP and USD', 'miles', 'km and miles'or 'feet'.  If you click on a 'more...' link you will go to some other web site for more information.  If you have any comments please let us have them by clicking here.)

Thursday, September 15 - Flight to Shanghai

Bill drove us to Heathrow.  We arrived in Shanghai (more...) after an 11-hour flight from Heathrow using BA and found our way, with the help of an airport guide, to the Magnetic Levitation railway terminal.  We paid our 50 Yuan each for the 25 km ride to Long Yang Lu Station.  It took just over 10 minutes and reached a maximum speed of 430 km per hour.  It was amazingly quick and smooth.  The taxi to the Peace hotel from the 'maglev' terminus was probably a rip-off as it cost 250 Yuan.  We got our flight tickets to Xiamen from the concierge.  We got some money out of a local ATM and bought 3 bottles of Tsing Tao beer and 2 bottles of water (16 Yuan).  After a short rest we walked down the Nanjing Road to the Renmin Square.  It was very hot and humid.  People spit in China.  They also smoke more and few places ban smoking.  There is a lot of hooting on the roads usually to indicate to the vehicle ahead or to the side that it should make way for the hooting vehicle. We found our way to the Shanghai Museum which was about to close so we did not go in.  We walked back to the hotel and bought tickets for the Friday night's performance by the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe at the Grand Theatre.  We ate our evening meal at the Peace hotel - a somewhat expensive meal consisting of squid and grouper fish but it was very tasty.

Friday, September 16 - Shanghai

Had a typical Chinese breakfast at the hotel and then caught the 37 bus to the Renmin Square ( 6 Yuan each) and walked to the modern Shanghai Museum ( more...) where we spent several hours.  Golf appears to have been played in the 15th century in China. We thought the rooms containing the Minorities exhibits and the furniture of the Ming Dynasty were the most enjoyable.  We took a taxi to the Yu Yuan Gardens ( more...).  The gardens were attractive with lots of old buildings but it was all very busy, hot and humid.  We had a drink outside the garadens and took a taxi back to our hotel where we rested a while. At 5.30pm we ate our evening meal - sliced pork and cabbage, chicken and cashew nuts, sautéed beans, and fried rice.  We took a taxi to the theatre and watched an excellent acrobatic display, the grand finale being four motor cyclists in a giant steel mesh ball.  We walked back to the hotel admiring the neon lights on the skyscrapers.

Saturday, September 17 - Shanghai to Xiamen

We awoke at 5am and checked out, picking up our breakfast boxes.  We took a taxi to the domestic airport and had to wait for the desks to open at 6am.  We checked in and made our way to gate A3 where we ate our breakfast - a couple of  hard boiled eggs, a ham sandwich and a can of Coke. We flew to Xiamen (more...) and were met by Julia and driven in a mini-bus to our hotel which was said to be the best on the island and overlooked Gulangyu Island.  We had a zizz and waited for Bill and Mary to arrive which they did at about 1pm.  We walked around the streets and along the sea front.  We had a wonderful evening meal at the top of the hotel - octopus and jellied fish with chilli sauce, dove including head, crab with coconut, noodles, asparagus.  We walked along the sea front to help the digestion and then retired to bed.

Sunday, September 18 - Gulangyu Island

We packed just sufficient for a one night stay on Gulangyu Island ( more...). Julia came at 8am and we walked to the ferry with our light luggage.  The rest of the luggage we left in the hotel.  The ferry was only a short walk from the hotel but involved crossing a dual carriageway at a zebra crossing.  Now it appears in China that traffic does not stop at a zebra crossing but there seems to be an unwritten agreement that pedestrians can weave amongst the traffic and will not normally be knocked over.  We gave way to fast moving coaches and other heavy vehicles.  We crossed the short stretch of water, sitting in seats on the upper deck.  At the dock we got onto a 6-seater electric cart - a stretched version of a golf cart.  Cars and trucks are forbidden on the island. We were driven around the island to the Marine Garden Hotel and had a wonderful room with a sea view.  The carpet was a bit grubby but apart from that the room was clean and just like any other hotel room.  We walked around and climbed up the a lot of steps to reach the Sunlight Rock at 92.7 metres above sea level.  It was 36C and very humid but the views were magnificent.  We took a cable car to an aviary where there were collections of peacock, pigeons, pheasant and parrots - a bit disappointing really.  We returned, via a tea shop, to the hotel and had lunch - Mao's pork (chunks of pork skin and fat marinated in some sort of sugary solution rendering it partly caramelised), scallops, soup, tongue, noodles - all very tasty.  After a short break to recover from post-prandial torpor we took a cart to the Shuzhuang Gardens which were very pretty.  We visited a piano museum where one of the attendants played a short European piece on a piano.  Jane took herself back to the hotel via a cart whilst the rest of the party visited an organ museum above which were housed all the gifts to Xiamen from foreign dignitaries including a Davy miners lamp from the Mayor of Cardiff.  We wandered back to the hotel via a short stop at a cafe to drink beer and a visit to a pearl shop.  We had a good evening meal with a variation of Mao's pork, pan fried fish, various meat dishes and soup.  Some of us wandered down the streets and had another beer.  With our breakfast tokens we were given moon cakes, it being the mid Autumn festival.

Monday, September 19 - Xiamen to Hangzhou

During breakfast Julia joined us and we all said 'shung ree kwai ler' to her as it was her 24th birthday having just learnt how to say it from a waitress.  We walked to the ferry and returned to Xiamen where we collected our luggage and boarded the mini-bus.  We drove off northwards along the ring road and stopped at the Hulishan Fortress where we saw some petrified trees, the largest cannon in the world and a collection of armour.  We visited a Buddhist temple and ate a very good vegetarian meal in a nearby restaurant.  We then drove across a mainland bridge and visited Jimei ( more...) and the school founded by Chen Jiageng (aka Tan Kah Kee) who built a number of schools and a university around Xiamen. As we had time to spare before the flight we were taken to a shopping mall where we bought Graham a shirt and had some beer in a fast food cafe.  At 3pm we flew to Hangzhou (more...).

We were met by Lily (a different one from the one from Guilin) and Mr Shi and driven to a tourist restaurant where we sat next to a table of Chinese Canadians.  We had more belly of pork but this time wrapped in lotus leaves, fried fish, pak choi and mushrooms, small aubergines, and rice.  We were taken to the Dahua Hotel where we had a standard room with twin beds but there was no free water and no fridge.  The TV showed only Chinese programmes.

Tuesday, September 20 - West Lake and Song Park

Breakfast was different from the previous hotels and very Chinese - hot orange squash, lots of dim sum and left over moon cakes.  At 9am we set off to the West Lake ( more...) where it was very busy and hot.  We got on a boat and had a tour of the pretty lake having learned of tales of the broken bridge which appears so when the snow melts on its middle.  We walked around one of the gardens and then off to the Dragon Well tea plantation and shops.  We bought some Oolong tea.  We had lunch at a nearby restaurant and then visited the very large Buddhist temple of Lingyin ( more...).  We got back to the hotel and had a short rest before being driven to Song Park  - a mock Song village with people dressed in period costume.  We crossed a cable bridge which Lily jumped up and down on to make it swing and make her very giggly.  After this we called all similar constructions "Lily bridges".  After touring the park we saw a really good show in the park's theatre - lots of dancing, a bit of contortionism, waterfalls and laser lighting.  This was an extra attraction suggested by Lily and was well worth the 150 Yuan entry fee.  We were driven to the Marco Polo hotel for our evening meal where we had some more aubergines, pak choi and mushrooms, chicken and cucumber.  Dessert as usual was water melon.  Where can we eat the specialities of Hangzhou?  It was still hot and humid.

Wednesday, September 21 - Shaoxing

Up early and off to Shaoxing ( more...).  On the way we passed amazing farmers' properties with drying rooms on top of the four storey buildings.  At Shaoxing we made our way to the Beijing - Hangzhou canal alongside of which is the East Lake ( more...) where we got into two black canopied boats driven by ladies using both their hands and feet to move the oars.  The East Lake was formed from a stone quarry which was used in the Qin dynasty to supply stone for the Great Wall.  We then drove to the Yu Wang temple at the bottom of a hill on which stands a huge statue to Yu Wang.  Whilst Jane wandered around the temple the rest of the party climbed the 1000 or so steps up to the statue from where there is a panoramic view of Shaoxing - well worth the climb.  After descending we went round the temple and then drove to the Orchid Pavilion ( more...)to see beautiful examples of calligraphy.  At 5:30 we got back to the hotel.

Thursday, September 22 - Chengdu

We left early for the airport and a flight to Chengdu (more...).  We were met by Mouse (a male guide) and a minibus.  We visited the Du Fu temple dedicated to the writer where there was a good exhibition about his writings and a rebuilt thatched cottage.  Most temples have been rebuilt over the years as wood rots.  After this we visited the Wuhou Temple dedicated to Wuhou where he is reputed to be buried in a large circular mound now covered with trees.  We had a standard Cantonese evening meal and finished off the whisky provided by Bill and Mary.  There seems to be a permanent fog over Chengdu as it is situated in the bowl of surrounding mountains.

Here is a map of Sichuan Province showing the places we travelled to around Chengdu..

Friday, September 23 - Huanglong Scenic Area

We were driven to the old airport of Chengdu where we learnt that the plane was delayed so we were each given a packed hot lunch and a bottle of water which we ate in the waiting area.  We took off at about 1.30pm and landed high on a runway carved out of the mountainside at the Jiu-Huang Airport (opened 2003).  We were met by Terry who told us that the mini-bus had not arrived.  We got into a pair of taxis and drove to Huanglong ( more...).  On the way we stopped at a pass in the mountains to admire the view and be approached by a group of Tibetans.  We arrived at the HuaLong Hotel where we quickly unpacked and walked with Terry up the nearby scenic area for two hours to a height of 3700 metres, a climb of 700 metres.  The scenery was unbelievable - lots of ponds and waterfalls where all the ponds and lakes were of different colours.  The lake at the top had five colours of water in it.  Jane got halfway up and took a sedan chair to the summit.  Whilst we were descending it got dark.  Fortunately Jane's mobile phone had a torch in it and was able to light the way down.  The altitude affected both Jane and Graham.

Saturday, September 24 - Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area

After breakfast we packed and learnt that our mini-bus had a puncture.  We hung around for a bit and finally got in another mini-bus together with our mini-bus driver and the punctured wheel.  We drove to the town near the airport and got into two taxis which were to take us to Jiuzhaigou ( more...).  Halfway our taxi stopped and we were asked to get out and transfer to another taxi which had been stopped by our taxi driver - all very odd.  We were driven to the Jiu Zhai Paradise hotel.  It was almost as large as a Las Vegas hotel with a large and high glass roofed lobby containing ponds with swans, ducks and fish.  It resembled part of the Qiang village we had passed on the way.  Our rooms were not ready so we were driven to the Jiuzhaigou scenic area ( more...).  It was raining.  We left some of our belongings in a visitor centre shop and clambered onto a park bus with Terry who suggested we sat on the left side to get the best view.  We passed several lakes (Lower Seasonal Lake, Dragon Lake, Rhinoceros Lake) and Tibetan hamlets and arrived at the bus station and went into the restaurant where we had a buffet  lunch with thousands of others.  After lunch we walked to a second bus station and got on a bus for a ten minute ride up the mountain.  We got off and viewed a lake  and then strolled down a plank walk to a five coloured lake.  It was beautiful.  We met a young Chinese student who had been studying law at Newcastle University.  We walked on and got a bus to Peacock Lake.  We saw Panda Lake and a coach load of Tai Chi Australians. We walked along another plank walk to the Pearl Shoal waterfall which was majestic.  We then walked further and caught a bus back to the visitor centre where our driver and his repaired minibus was waiting in a nearby car park.  We were taken back to the hotel and allocated rooms.  We had a good buffet meal but the extra beer cost 25 Yuan a bottle - the most expensive beer we were to have.  It usually cost us 10 Yuan for a bottle of beer - "ee peng pee joe".

Sunday, September 25 - Down the river MinJian to Wolong

We left at 8am to drive the 400 km to the Wolong Panda Hotel.  Our first stop was at a Tibetan trinket shop in the town below the airport.  We bought two jadeite balls for Graham and a necklace for Jane.  We followed the Minjian river from its source down to Mao Xian.  On the way we stopped for petrol, to admire white yaks and buy some more trinkets and hot chestnuts.  The views down the valley were very picturesque. We stopped at Mao Xian for lunch.  It was a good lunch - duck, fish with bones, chicken and cashew, pork and mushrooms, soup, root vegetables and copious tea.  Back in the mini-bus through a poor agricultural area though a new road was being built - pillars and tunnels already constructed.  We turned off the main road and were taken 35 km to the Panda hotel.  The road was bordered by lots of cabbage patches and bamboo.  The government gives grants for growing cabbages and not for sweet corn.  The room at the Panda hotel had a double bed and a bath and was very well appointed.  The driver and Terry joined us for dinner which was tasty though mild except for a spicy hot soup.  Terry announced that the driver would be returning to Chengdu that evening. 

Monday, September 26 - Wolong Panda Reserve and Dujiangyan Irrigation Project

We met our new driver, Mr Cai, and set off at 8am to visit the Panda reserve ( more...) - it was fantastic and there was nobody there except the staff.  It was drizzling when we arrived.  The pandas were kept in some zoo like enclosures and also allowed to roam around walled wooded 1-acre plots on the hillside.  We saw month old  pandas in incubators, child pandas in a playground, pandas up a tree and a panda posing in a sitting position eating bamboo.  We were driven back to the main road and on towards Dujiangyan.  On the way we got stuck in a traffic jam near where they are going to build a large dam.  They were building a large expressway across a valley.  It gave us a chance to get out and stretch our legs.  We had lunch at a restaurant in Dujiangyan which overlooked a statue of  the person who first constructed the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project ( more...).  After lunch we were driven up a nearby hill where we parked and walked down through a Taoist temple, and walked over a Lily bridge to the island where the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project was constructed in 256 BC for the purpose of providing water to the surrounding area.  We walked along to the end of the island and crossed via another Lily bridge to the mainland where we were met by our driver.  We then drove to a brocade shop in Chengdu where two girls demonstrated how they made the intricate patterns in the brocade.  We then went to a restaurant for a Chengdu hot pot.  We ate lamb, beef, duck tongues (not worth the effort), pork throat (very rubbery), goose stomach (more rubber), quails eggs, eels, fish, mushrooms, greens and pigs brains (very good).  We rushed off to a theatre to watch a performance of the Sichuan Opera which was very good and entertaining.  Finally we got to our hotel at 10pm very tired but happy.

Tuesday, September 27 - Emeishan

We set off at 8am, after leaving two bags at the hotel, for Emeishan ( more...).  On the way we stopped for petrol and Terry bought us dried pumpkin seeds in green tea - an interesting but pleasant flavour.  We got to the hotel and had lunch at 11.30am in a small room all on our own - fish, chicken and greens.  We walked to the bus station next to the hotel and got a bus to a cable car station where tickets were purchased - reduced fees for Bill and Graham.  At the end of the ride we walked up to a temple where a very large gold Buddha sat on a 60 ton white elephant.  We were unable to make the frogs in a pond sing by clapping our hands.  As the mountain was shrouded in fog we walked down a path passed various stalls selling trinkets, vegetables, mushrooms and monkey food.  Jane bought a bead necklace for 1 Yuan from an elderly lady.  We branched off the path to walk along a river bed to the monkey area where we saw a number of monkeys scampering around.  We walked over two Lily bridges and it started to rain.  On the way down Jane successfully bartered for a set of bamboo table and chairs which cost her all of 15 Yuan - not really surprising as they were miniatures.  We took a bus back to the hotel where we arrived at 6.05pm tired out.  We were driven to a snack street in Emeishan where we had a table in one of the local restaurants under a blue, red and white tarpaulin.  We had another hot pot with skewered duck tongues, gizzards and fish skin.  We also had crayfish and blood.  It was a jolly good meal with beer à volonté.

Wednesday, September 28 - Grand Buddha at Leshan

Again up early and left at 8am for a 40min drive to Leshan ( more...).  We walked up to the top of the park where the Buddha via the North gate visiting a pagoda dedicated to Linbao, well known in Chinese literature.  We visited a temple dedicated to the monk, Master Haitong, who started the carving with the head in 713 AD but died before it was completed.  The Buddha is 71 metres tall, the largest in China, and was built to calm the waters at the confluence of the three rivers at its feet. Jane stayed at the top whilst the rest of the party climbed down the 73 metres using the stairs hugging the cliff face.  The cliff walkers joined Jane at the top and we ambled out of the park via the East gate and to a boat which took us on the Minjiang river to the Buddha for a Kodak opportunity.  We were driven back to a health food restaurant in Chengdu where we ate lots of 'healthy' food.  We left at 3pm to go to the station where Bill and Mary were put on the overnight train to Kunming.  Jane and Graham were driven to a computer shop street where two memory cards were bought for Bill with some bartering help from Terry - 700 Yuan for a 256K and a 1G card.  Jane and Graham returned to the Jingjang Hotel where they had an evening meal.

Thursday, September 29 - Chengdu to Kunming

We were picked up at 7am and taken to the new airport of Chengdu, next to the old airport.  When we arrived at Kunming (more...) there was no guide for us but Tessy turned up five minutes late.  We were driven to the Jinjiang Hotel and met Bill and Mary at 12.30pm.  We had lunch in the Shanghai restaurant at the hotel where beer cost 18 Yuan.  The meal was standard Cantonese fare.  We were driven to the West Hill, passed a smelly green lake and a new road under construction.  It was misty, grey and drizzling.  We got a ski chair lift up the hill and walked to the Dragon Gate temple.  On the way down Jane bought a teapot.  We rode in a golf cart back to the car park but would have preferred to have walked.  We had to pay for the ski lift and the golf cart.  We had dinner in the same Shanghai restaurant and it was a similar bland Cantonese meal.  We asked Tessy to arrange for us to eat the local speciality of 'Across the Bridge Noodles'.  Reluctantly she agreed to try and arrange it.

Friday, September 30 - Stone Forest, Kunming

We left at 9am and the driver got stopped for turning right into a street which was prohibited.  According to Tessy he would be fined 200 Yuan.  On the journey to the Stone Forest  it was noticed that the driver paddled the accelerator pedal thus causing  the mini-bus to go quickly for a bit and then immediately slow down when he took his foot off the pedal - what a jerk.  Tessy was unable to get the driver to change his foot movements.  The scenery was interesting with lots of eucalyptus trees and Yi shrines by the side of the road.  The Stone Forest ( more...) was very interesting.  The stones were actually limestone karsts and not from petriefied trees as we had originally thought..  We walked around the major forest which was like an open air cave and then around the minor forest where the stone outcrops were much shorter.  We ate very good Chinese food in a tourist restaurant and then drove back to the hotel.  On the way we stopped at a golf shop and bought 2 putters and a handbag.  We saw the narrow gauge railway (1 metre) which linked Kunming with Hanoi.  We stopped at a shopping area and bought some dried mushrooms.  When we got back to the hotel Jane bought another bag for 35 Yuan to carry all the souvenirs she had bought.  Tessy had arranged for us to go to a show and eat 'Across the Bridge Noodles'.  It cost us 130 Yuan each.  We were driven to the JixinYuan restaurant where we had a table on the balcony from which we could watch the minority dancing show called the 'Jixin Epulary Dance of China' whilst eating lots of dishes with wonderful flavours including the speciality noodles and steam pot chicken, another local speciality.  The progamme we were given mentioned the erotic dance performed at the Red Millhouse in Paris so some of us were a liitle disappinted with what we saw on the floor below.  Anyway it was a very good evening and well worth the extra money.

Saturday,  October 1 - Kunming to Guilin

We checked out at 10am and were driven to the bird and flower market where we wandered around the stall lined streets.  We had lunch and were then taken to the airport where we said goodbye to Bill and Mary who were flying to Hong Kong.  Jane and Graham had a four hour wait for the flight to Guilin.  In the waiting we met a young Australian, Martin Burgess, who was going to hitchhike to Tibet at the start of a two year tour.  Good luck to him.  We arrived at Guilin (more...) to be met by Lily and her husband, Tang.  Lily was very excited at meeting us again and gave Jane a white gold and pearl necklace and Graham a silk tie.  We were taken in a mini-bus to the Bravo Hotel where we had a large double bed on the ninth floor.  It was 33C and humid.  Tang drove us in Lily's company car, a Geely (similar to a Saxo), which she'd borrowed for two days even though she could not drive.  We drove over Liberation Bridge passed the hotel where we stayed in 2001 and along the river to an eating place (not a restaurant) on the banks of the river.  We sat in plastic seats at a table on the pebbles at the side of the river.  The sets of crockery was wrapped in polythene - a government regulation for this type of eating place.  There was a gas ring in the middle of the table.  We started with pumpkin seeds and very small snails.  A hot pot containing fish and tofu was brought to the table.  We ate cakes made by frying glutinous rice and vegetables which we dipped in a chilli sauce.  The occasional rocket went off in the background as it was the 56th anniversary of the founding of New China.  After the fish hot pot we had fish soup with large pieces of fish and marrow.  We got back to the hotel at 11pm.
Sunday, October 2 - Gingko Forest

We had breakfast at the hotel in a Western restaurant devoid of chopsticks.  At 9am we met Frank Li, Lily's mentor and the owner of the travel agency.  Frank spoke very good English which he learnt from a Linguaphone course eighteen years ago.  Frank drove us in his car manufactured by the Harbin Aeroplane Factory to the village of Da Xu ( more...) whilst Tang followed in the Geely.  We walked along the ancient streets and visited a rice wine brewing house where the vats of wine matured in porcelain vats buried in the back garden.  Frank bought us a small bottle of herb impregnated rice wine.  We walked over a bridge to a part of the village kept in the style of the 1920's and 1930's.  We drove through the countryside passed fields of sugar cane (purple bamboo according to Frank).  We arrived at a village set in a forest of gingko trees not far from Hai Yang.  We walked amongst the trees, relieved ourselves in the public toilet and made our way to the house of the brother of the head of the village.  We sat on low chairs around a round table with a gas ring in its centre and ate oil tea and a wok of duck and gingko seeds  with tarot root and sweet potatoes all washed down with beer.  We returned the hotel for a short rest.  We were picked up at 6pm and whisked off in two cars to a vegetarian meal in the Longze Tea House and Restaurant.  Many beautiful vegetarian dishes were brought to the table including ying-yang soup.  After eating most of the dishes Lily disappeared and returned with a waitress carrying dishes of duck, skewered squid and egg fried rice.  They'd played another joke on us.  After the meal Frank left us and the rest of us went to the Lijiang Theatre to see a show depicting dances from Yao and Zhang minorities set against a background of the Dragon Spine Mountain ( more...). It was very good and reminded us of our trip to the mountain in 2001.  There were even two women who undid and rolled up their toe length hair.  We got back to the hotel at 10pm.

Monday, October 3 - Ling canal

We were picked up at 10am all packed and checked out.  The two cars set out for the Ling canal (more...) just North of  Xing'An.  On the way Frank regaled us with a history lesson about the Long March and the Red Army.  It was fascinating.  Frank told us he did a lot of reading in the smallest room in his home.  How he remembered all those dates we do not know.  The Ling canal system was built in the Qin dynasty at the same time the Great Wall and the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project.  It joined the north flowing Xiang river with the south flowing Li river and thus provided a passage for defenders of the Xi'An empire to the south of China.  At the entrance to the site we had deep fried skewered fish and crabs washed down with cold chrysanthemum tea.  We visited a museum containing the remains of US aeroplanes which had crashed in the nearby mountains in 1945 but which were only discovered in 1986.  We crossed from the canal bank to the ploughshare section of the system on a covered punt.  We then drove back to north Guilin and had lunch in a local restaurant where we ate masses of thinly cut lamb in a hot pot followed by lamb skin (very tough) and lamb's blood (not as good as pig's blood).  As we had some time to spare we drove to see the 10000 li bridge at Xing'An on the Ling canal.  It was called that as that is the distance it is from the ancient capital of Xi'An.  We returned to the hotel and said goodbye to Frank.  The four of us then got into a minibus and were driven to the airport.  On the journey we announced to Lily's husband, Tang Jian, that as he spoke English much better than we speak Mandarin, he should have an English given name so we started to call him Jim which he was happy to be known as.  It was sad saying goodbye to Lily and Jim who were on a later flight to Chongqing which they had delayed by a couple of days in order to meet us.  It was a bit of a bumpy ride to Shanghai where we arrived at the Peace Hotel via a taxi (50 Yuan) at about 10pm so it was straight to bed after Graham had bought a 3.30 Yuan bottle of Tsing Tao beer at a local store.

Tuesday, October 4 - Returning home

We got up early, ate breakfast and checked out.  We left the hotel at 7am and took a taxi straight to the Pudong airport.  We think we were ripped off as it cost 370 Yuan and the hotel had said it would cost 150-180 Yuan.  We took off on time at 11am and were met by Bill at Heathrow at 4pm.  We drove home having had a wonderful trip to China.  The next trip to China is now in its planning stage.