Our China Tour in 2006

Gene and Norma Maas

Friday, May 5 Guilin

Today’s schedule began with a visit to the government’s Tea Science and Research Institute where we got to see an operating tea garden. We were given a presentation on the growth, cultivation and processing of tea plants. We learned that there are five different basic types of tea, and all come from the same tea plant – the leaves are just picked at different stages of growth. Then we all were given a chance to pick tea leaves with our own hands. A contest was held to see who could pick the most high quality leaves within ten minutes. Among our group of 30 or so, I was one of the four winners and received a prize – a pair of homemade bamboo sandals. Later, inside the Institute, we were shown the finer points of brewing, serving and drinking tea. It is a ritual not taken lightly in China.

After our lunch, which was noted for its colorful display [it included a two-color soup in which the green and white portions were in the shape of the yin and yang symbol], we went to a Day School. We were treated to a number of physical routines and performances by the 5-year-old students, including audience participation in dancing. Norma got her grandma fix again while dancing with one of the kids. Then all the kids sat down to color pictures that they gave to us before we left. The students are there all day and get all their meals and naps there. We also got to tour their classroom, their sleeping quarters and the bathroom with child-size fixtures.

The other Grand Circle tour group was also visiting the Day School and I was introduced to Vincent Tamalleo (sp?) from Phoenix, the man who recovered my credit cards. I was able to personally thank him and his tour director for getting my cards back to me so fast. That tour group had gone downstream on the Yangtze River but both groups ended up in Guilin about the same time.

The rest of the afternoon was for rest or relaxing. Some went to the bar, others got massages and some of us used our free time to walk in the park around a lovely lake. In the evening, we headed to the airport for our fifth domestic flight within China, and to our last city, Hong Kong. Nearly 21 years ago, when I was last in Hong Kong, the airport was practically in downtown Kowloon. Planes literally had to land in the harbor with water, mountains and tall buildings surrounding the runway. In July 1998, the airport was closed and a new, much larger airport was opened on the island of Chek Lap Kok, just off the north shore of Lantau Island, a 45-minute trip by bus to the city.

Our flight didn’t leave Guilin until 9:25 pm and so by the time we reached the Kimberly Hotel in Kowloon, it was 30 minutes past midnight. Needless to say, we were very bushed.

Gene Maas
5 Jun 2006



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