Remember when we were little and we thought if we dug down far enough, we'd reach China? I couldn't comprehend the fact that there were actually people on the other side of the world. Well, let me tell you, there are definitely people there. 1.3 billion of them, in fact.
We got home from China on Tuesday morning. I don’t think I ever finished my Vietnam & Cambodia trip summary, so this time I will set myself up for success and make it short and sweet. In fact, if I had to sum up the trip in one word, at the risk of sounding cheesy I would say “thankful.” If you’re hoping I’ll stop at one word, I apologize in advance. Here are a lot more words to expand on my one word. It’s a list of what I’m thankful for.
Safety. Everyone returned to Canada alive and healthy, which has not been the case for all Chamber trips.
Beautiful weather. We had rain only one day, and on that day we spent 3 hours on the bus driving to another city so the impact was minimal. The blossoms were beautiful in Beijing and when we went south to Shanghai, it was full-on summer with green grass and trees. It wasn’t hot, but very pleasant for travelling and sightseeing.
Interesting sights. We saw and experienced a wide variety of things, from ancient wonders like the Great Wall of China and Forbidden City to the modern-day craziness of skyscrapers and the Maglev train. There is so much to explore in this world and so fascinating to see what life is like in other countries.
Smooth travels. All flights arrived on time, no connections were missed, and no luggage was lost (actually there were two items that were missing when we landed in Winnipeg, but I’m assuming they’ve arrived by now). Even though the international flights were loooooong, we all survived. I watched more movies and shows on those flights than I have in the past year.
Wonderful guides. There are a lot of good guides out there, but we got some of the best. Inexplicably, we were assigned some extra guides for one day and our travellers were outraged that our beloved regular guides had been replaced. The new guides were not popular but they disappeared as quickly as they appeared and all was right in the world again.
The group. We had a really great mix of people. Most of them were friendly and positive and fun to hang out with. It was a low-maintenance group – they weren’t snobby or demanding and most of them needed little or no guidance.
Family and friends. My sister and brother-in-law, my brother-in-law’s brother and his wife, our good friends Doug & Lorie and another friend all came on this trip too. It made the trip way more fun and we made so many good memories together.
Support back home. Chloe did an amazing job of keeping things running smoothly at home. Dale’s mom checked in often, the kids went to my parents’ house on the weekend, and friends helped out with carpooling and keeping Neve busy. I was sorry to miss Neve’s last gymnastics meet of the year and Chloe’s last cheer competition ever, but I’m thankful for family and friends who went to watch. My parents and others also supported us with prayers and we felt it.
Canada’s public washrooms. China likes the squatting method. I don’t mind squatting, but it can be tricky to monitor your spray so your pants/feet don’t get wet while holding your purse, holding your nose, and holding the door shut because they didn’t always have locks. Toilet paper wasn’t provided so when you were done, you needed yet another hand to dig through your bag for Kleenex. Also, you’re not supposed to flush paper so there is always a garbage can to dispose of your used toilet paper. I’ll let your imagination run wild (Dan, stop reading!). When squatting, the garbage can was at prime viewing level. I closed my eyes a lot. I tried to limit my public washroom visits but there were others who weren’t able to. The worst washroom someone in the group used was a communal trough like the one picture here, except there were no stall dividers. So everyone could see you squat and do your business and vice versa. Who came up with that terrible idea?! Probably Chairman Mao. That guy was crazy.
My job. There were some stressful times, like when one of our travellers went missing (she was found) or the middle-of-the-night call about someone’s family emergency back home. Dale and I were always scanning and counting to make sure we weren’t leaving anyone behind. We had to be friendly and positive all the time, even when people are complaining about silly things. That doesn’t always come naturally for me, so it was exhausting at times. However, the pros FAR outweigh the cons and travelling the world as part of my job is a pretty sweet deal.
Minimal jet lag. It hasn't been too bad for me, especially compared to what it was like after our Vietnam trip. I get tired early and I fall into an deep sleep as soon as my head touches the pillow. I've had crazy dreams usually involving travellers from the group along with occasional appearances by Teresa, co-workers and/or The Amazing Race competitors. I do feel a bit foggy but it's been manageable, which I'm thankful for since it's been a busy week. Spencer and I had MTC tickets on Wednesday and on Thursday I had the info session for our next Chamber trip. Life does not stand still.
I’ll stop there for now. It was an awesome trip that far surpassed my expectations. I will try and post a few more pics in the coming days but I’m not promising anything. I’m just enjoying being home and taking it easy until I feel completely back to normal.
|Shanghai (Nanjing Road)|
|Canals of Suzhou|
|Gardens in Wuxi|
|View of Shanghai from the 88th-floor observation deck of the Jin Mao Tower|
|The Maglev (magnetic levitation) train. It took us to the airport from downtown Shanghai in seven minutes.|