We just returned to Shanghai after our whirlwind tour of Beijing and Xi'an. It was a fabulous, fun-filled, full and exciting time. As you may be aware, I've been to Beijing once before and Stephanie has been there several times and to Xi'an only once before, but we were able to see several new things ourselves, as well as seeing some things again in a new way and with Bethany seeing everything for the first time. We are totally exhausted, our legs and feet are killing us, we spent too much money on items, and are having an excellent time. Our hostess has enabled us to see the 'real' China and I would never do this without someone who knows the language, culture and can navigate. We've had some crazy incidents but we consider everything an 'adventure'.
One thing that has helped Bethany and I is a book I picked up at one of the stores, 101 stories for foreigners to understand Chinese people. Now we understand a few things that we couldn't quite grasp before the explanations. We will explain more later.
I've especially enjoyed watching Stephanie interact with both friendly and unfriendly people, arguing with the taxi drivers who try to charge us too much, negotiating with the vendors, ordering for us in the restaurants, and so much more.
It is after midnight on Friday night and we just got back to Shanghai and already re-packed in order to catch a train tomorrow morning for Hangzhou. We will finally meet Stephanie's friend, Lucy, whom she has been a pen pal with since middle school and is now able to see often. Lucy's parents invited us all for dinner tomorrow night and Lucy is looking forward to showing off her hometown and the beautiful lake. She has a whole list of places to see and things to do in our short time there, and we are looking forward to it all.
We have been keeping notes on all our activities but please forgive us for not writing each day. But I promise that starting on Monday, we will catch you up on everything we have done, once we get to slow down a little and breathe a little more. (And get yet another massage – maybe they will kneel on our backs again!!!!)