|Subject: Trip to China and Mongolia|
Hi Mary and Jerry,
Thanks for your interesting report on the captioned trip. Have you considered writing a more-detailed travelogue? I know many Ziners would enjoy and appreciate it, including myself.
I traveled in China in '84, when I had relatives living in Guangzho. I had spent a week in Hong Kong before flying to Beijing. At that time, all travel in China was controlled by the Chinese Intourist Assn. I was with a small group, touring, for the first couple of weeks, and our trains were never met, our hotels in Beijing and Xian were changed from the new Great Wall and Golden Flower, respectively, and we had no recourse. When flying from Beijing to Xian, after a long day in the Beijing airport they took us by bus to a military airport and flew us on a Russian military jet to Xian, where no one knew we were coming. I even had a soldier stick his bayoneted rifle in my face for taking a picture of a quaintly-worded sign at the military airport, but I managed to keep my camera. The hot water was turned off at 10 pm in the Xian hotel (The Scarlet Bird), and I repaired the flushing mechanism of the toilet there with a large safety pin. Conditions provoked many a laugh session.
We had wonderful massages in our hotel rooms for almost nothing, and we greatly enjoyed walking into town (as in Guilin) after dinner (which featured roasted anteater) and mingling with the locals in the street and the department store. They were all out in force late at night (at least til midnight). I was quite an oddity being about a foot taller than most Chinese women and having white hair. I suppose for that reason, all the babies wanted to come to me to be held. It was a most wonderful experience.
At that time, we encountered few Chinese who spoke English, but we managed to communicate just fine. They were unaccustomed to seeing Americans then and, as a group, we were stared at mostly, but I found that as soon as you smiled at them, they warmed up quickly.
The sharp contrasts of how the masses lived and the elegance and fine restaurants of the large hotels in the cities were almost unbelievable. At the White Swan (Guangzho)there was a three-story waterfall in the main lobby and a beautiful garden, but there were police at every door to be sure the locals didn't come in unless they were employees.
With all the inconveniences, it was such a wonderful experience. How I would love to do it again and make comparisons to how much it must have changed.
Happy future travels, Lou Matthews Lakeway, TX