Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 4: Road to Nowhere

Lost in China

Luckily, the breakfast buffet at the Shangri La was one of the best I’ve ever had, if I had all morning long, I might have been able to try everything. The coffee was so good if I could have taken a pot with me I would have. I rarely take coffee black, because it has to do w/taste, usually I take cream & sugar. But some coffee are so good, you want to drink it black. This is one of those. It’s beautifully presented too.

That’s shark fin dumplings behind the boiled egg, various fruits. Check out the fuzzy looking red fruit close to the banana bread. I know it as a rambutan, the inside is sweet and translucent, but you don’t eat the skin. That is sashimi, salmon in front of the egg. Next to the one bacon strip is another kind of dumpling, it’s sweet rice flour w/a sort of custard filling, except it isn’t as sweet as custard. The coffee pot sits top of a tea light and flickers in the early morning. It is by far the best cup of coffee I have ever had! I rarely take it black, but this morning, this coffee could only be thoroughly enjoyed in it’s purest form.

It’s early, 6am, even with just two 2hr naps, I’m vertical. Check out this beautiful morning view from the balcony, the fog covers the lake but makes a beautiful photo.

Hint: When you eat at the breakfast buffet at the hotel make sure you grab fruit or granola bars with you.

I had one of those long driving days. I had an appointment in the morning and I was supposed to be driven from Hangzhou to a little town called then from there to Ningbo on the coast. The farther away from the main towns, the farther away from corporate ‘spies’ *snort*.

It was supposed to be a 3hr drive, no problem. All the highways in China was built by having private investors pay for it, thus all highways outside of towns are toll roads. We were going along; I was enjoying the ride sights.

Interesting trivia: I’m assuming that the skill of driving is rare in China because when we stopped at the service area, everyone left their cars in the parking lot but left the engine running w/the doors unlocked!

The photo below are grave markers, I think the highway went through traditional burial areas. Kinda creepy hope the dead don't mind my taking pix.

I love road trips, if I could, I would have taken the wheel. The road signs are also in English. I figured it out easily that we missed our exit. Unfortunately, the driver, didn’t speak a word of English. But his body language told me he figured it out half a second after me, cuz he suddenly stiffened in his seat. I twisted around, I knew there was no traffic on this lonely stretch of highway, if it were me driving, I’d stop, back up & exit. But not MY boy scout. I was going to be lost in China, again.

It was a good thing I stuffed myself at breakfast, because I was supposed to eat lunch with my Dongyang host, but since we got lost, well, I wasn’t sure when we were going to get there. I wasn’t worried when I started seeing grave markers dotting the hills we drove by. Nor about the turn off on the highway that wasn’t finished. There was a lot of beautiful scenery. Some little towns looked like alpine chalets!

I found out later that these are tea plants, there is a great random order to them, not just the row upon row, but the fact that they are rounded and look like long pillows just fascinated me.

This river with small islands fascinated me too, I have no idea what the structure was on top of that one ‘islet’; reminded me of a duck blind.

He drove for another 45mins before the highway curved over. I looked back around me and there were times when there were no other cars in the highway. We kept driving, I could tell with the map I kept in my head that we were going to circle back. If we had made a right turn we would have headed back to Hangzhou. We finally saw a small town and we exited; the driver literally stopped in the middle of the road and jumped out to ask the car behind him for directions!

Eventually the other facility sent someone after us, I was supposed to be at that facility around 11am; it was now closing in on 230pm. We followed the van to the facility, but he didn’t, slow down, now I was in a car chase!

Every factory/facility in China is guarded w/a gate, sometimes it’s a gate arm across the entrance, others it’s a strange metal contraption, I’ve never taken a picture of it because it would seem odd, my taking pictures of their security measures. Well, when we arrived, the first van went flying through, my van got hit on the front with the gate arm because the guard didn’t get the memo and was blocking us!

I gave the driver my granola bars cuz I knew he had to be starving & he STILL had to drive back!

I finally finished with my tour and meetings at 7pm! Now they had to drive me to Ningbo, which was another 2hr drive. But at least this guy had a GPS so he flew back in 90mins. Except the GPS couldn’t recognize the address of the hotel! We drove around for another 20mins when I spotted a Starbucks, which I commented on and one of my hosts saw the Sheraton sitting right next to it! Go figure, Starbucks to the rescue!

I finally ate dinner at 930pm, the hotel restaurant was scheduled to close at 10pm. I love this hotel. I had the best Singapore noodles I’d ever had!

I ate fast and had them wrap up the noodles for me which I will eat for breakfast. But I’m in bed before midnight, can’t complain. And how was YOUR day?

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