I peeked through the curtain windows as everyone was asleep. Clear air, green fields and distant mountains. The houses.seemed looked after and not a patch of garden was wasted. Neat rows of plants with no weeds in sight. In the fields, strange stooks made from sweet corn stems resembled the corn dolly Christmas Angel I hang on my tree.
Closer to the towns and cities, high-rise blocks of flats and industries blotted the landscape. But the sky remained clear.
My fellow travellers woke. Time for the breakfast cereal. Yes, I still have a little left. It was Tunnel Time again so we had to play the 'Where is your Mouth' game. Hubby was very successful. I could tell by the click, click slurp noises from his bed. The noises from my side were more inflammatory, rhyming with hit and sugar.
I have other 'find your body part'games. If I ever write a book, I'll pop them in there.
Today's guide, waiting outside the station was Leo. He seemed to have a good command of the English language until you asked him a question. His comprehension level was not too good. Not only his English comprehension caused problems. We went for lunch. He ordered, explaining to the owner that.hubby cannot eat too spicy (brings on his gout, you know. He says arthritis, but I say gout.). The driver and guide had left us to sit alone. Do we smell??
When the food arrived, there was enough for four. So, after a bit of argy bargy arguing, they moved over to join us. I thought the handless cup held my drink. I took a bite of the pork rib and my mouth was on fire. I grabbed the cup and took a large swig. Leo smiled. I told him how hot I found the dish. He explained that I could dip the food in the handless cup to make it less spicy. Woe is me!! How daft am I?
After lunch we drove across the city to see many figures of old emperors, prime ministers, generals and their sons. My head soon reeled with the numerous names and dates. The figures had quite aggressive and scary faces.
I felt happier in the tiny Jinli Street where local vendors displayed not only their wares but also their talents. One man blew candy into animal shapes, another painted the inside of tiny glass balls. A lady cut paper into intricate patterns and another carved heads from clay. I would have liked more time there.
Returning to our room, we had more time to view some of its funny quirks. The combined hot and cold tap has not been properly fixed. It can swivel through 360 degrees as well as wobble from side to side. As I sat on the toilet, hubby started laughing. He said that I looked like the Dragon Lady from The Golden Child through the screen that separated us. As a treat, I rose from the 'throne' and performed my best shadow dance. It just made him laugh more. Not quite the effect I was hoping for.
As night fell we took to the street. The dark night, with just a crescent moon, was lit by the bright lights from exclusive restaurants, tea houses, jewellery stores, opera houses and fashion shops. It was so bright that many cars did not use their lights. One highlight was two girls performing a tea dance in perfect unison. Wearing traditional red costumes, they posed and poured the tea from long spouts into tiny cups from a height. This beautiful dance seemed more poignant as the younger dancer had Down's syndrome.
The street heaved with people but felt safe and calm. I tried to get hubby to part with his pocket money and buy me a £30,000 jade carving. No joy. This really was a wonderful place to wander.
As we entered Room 309, we could see hubby had some admirers. They had posted their calling cards under the door. I hid his phone. Now I know why the welcome basket includes curious condoms alongside the tea bags. After all, you have to keep your guests happy!! Or as Leo quipped the next day 'This is what we call Social Services!!' Well, really.