Yahoo, it’s the end of the series! It pains me to see how long it’s taken me to finish blogging about my adventures in China this summer. The longer I left it, the more the memories have faded, and the less detailed my posts have become. So I’m sorry. But I really need to stop apologizing for things I don’t need to be sorry for. So I’m not sorry. Sorry.
Goddammit, I’m such a Canadian.
On our last day in Zhangjiajie, we relaxed through a rainy morning before cramming onto a small bus, bound for the airport. Not knowing where to go before our late flight, we staked out a small bakery, steadily replenishing the trays in front of us as we settled in and became absorbed in our respective books, dramas, and blogs (guess which one was me… so hard).
A chubbier boy with his friends, all around the age of 10, peered us curiously until he got the courage to pipe up with his questions.
I can’t really remember the conversations we exchanged that day, but it certainly will be very hard to forget the way his eyes scrunched up into crescent-moons every time he turned back to his friends and giggled over his own audacity to talk to strangers like us.
He was so damn adorable I wanted to take him home with me.
We headed for the airport and then proceeded to sit for another few hours, due to unexpected delays. It was pretty exhausting for everyone because we finally left around 1:30am and arrived in Shanghai at the lovely hour of 5am.
Once we made it onto our beds, we passed out.
When we woke up, we fought over the highly-anticipated mini washing machine, only to realize we would have to hang our clothes on large sketchy wooden rods extending from our window to dry.
I didn’t even take any pictures because I was so nervous about dropping Margaret’s shorts onto unsuspecting passengers walking by below. Anyway, that was a major waste of effort because it started raining outside not long afterwards. Seriously Shanghai-ers, how do you dry your clothes?!
After all the antics, we went to the mall, bought souvenirs, clothes, and ate the best jeen baos (pan-fried buns) OF LIFE. I still drool when I think about them.
We also went on a shopping spree at Walmart, as hilarious as that sounds. I will back us up by saying that Chinese Walmart is very, very different from North American Walmart. Let’s just say our cart was embarrassingly filled to the rim with countless boxes of snacks, so much we had to get some additional handbaskets too.
Knowing that we were approaching the end of our trip, we hung out at bars the next couple of nights, chatting over panda brand beers, getting Margaret drunk, and reminiscing over the days we had spent together.
The first mouth-watering buns we had in Beijing.
The cute old grandpas in the farmlands.
The sad fails of every train and bus we missed.
The time I got so pissed off at Margaret I walked out of the hotel, and how half an hour later I was seen posing for a photo, pretending to bite her head.
A whole day trip condensed into a rushed speed-boat quick show.
The immensely persistent sellers that followed us for a good 10 minutes up the Great Wall of China.
The amount of smoking and pollution that was the bane of poor Donna and Margaret’s existence.
The sleepless nights I had from Donna’s weird cough-whimpering, as a result of the aforementioned air quality.
The spectacular mountains we saw.
The time the washing machine flooded our kitchen.
The tremendous difficulty we had trying to communicate with locals, even with a fluent mandarin-speaker and a fluent cantonese-speaker.
The scary trains.
The scary people.
The scary monkeys.
The scary drivers.
The mind boggling concept that none of the famous attractions seemed to have directions or signs to get there.
The nostalgia that swept over me when something reminded me of the small hometown I grew up in.
Mao Yu. Aunt’s Place. Sam. The security guard.
The things we would have missed out on if everything had gone according to plan.
Some experiences are so outstanding, it feels as though they have been seared into my memory. And it would not have been the same without any one of the ladies I went on this trip with.
Donna, our rational and level-headed but sometimes sassy mama, who always did her best to look after everyone, and shared in my giddiness over nature.
Margaret, who came in close competition with me for being the biggest clown and the whiniest, but saved our butts by being our interpreter and tour guide the entire trip without complaint.
Katrina, quiet until it came down to a food choice she really wanted or stairs that she couldn’t take, a person whom I’m so happy I got to share this experience with.
This trip was nowhere near perfect.. but it certainly was a pretty unforgettable one.