Wednesday, January 28: This morning, loud explosions outside our hotel jolt us out of our sleep. We hear musical instruments, and more explosions. We hop out of bed, scurrying to the balcony to see what the hubbub is about. On the street below is what looks like a funeral procession. People are setting off firecrackers, leaving wisps of smoke and a trail of red litter scattered on the ground. A street-sweeping crew follows behind to clean it all up. Musicians are marching beside the procession, playing lively tunes. Some people are walking backwards, facing what must be the casket, while the pallbearers and the mourners are moving solidly forward.
I guess this is our wake up call. Esther, our bicycle guide from yesterday, has arranged a boat ride down the Li River for the late morning, so we get showered and dressed and head into town to grab some breakfast.
It looks like another gray day, but at least at this point, it isn’t raining.
We stop at the Rosewood Cafe, which has a warm cozy atmosphere and a great Western breakfast.
After breakfast, we walk around the streets a bit. As usual, I admire the lantern shops. I go into one to ask how I’d go about transporting one of the lanterns if I were to buy one. The two Chinese people at the counter obviously don’t want to have to make the effort to understand or speak English. They look up briefly and wave their hands back and forth in front of their faces, as if to brush me away, and then they get right back to the business at hand: their phones. Some Chinese people can be so rude! They just lost a sale, but what do they care? Customer service is not part of the Chinese mentality.
Darn it all, I want one of those lanterns!! I should have just bought one and dealt with the transport. But after the salespeople’s rudeness, I won’t buy one from them on matter of principle. I will get one, I promise, before I leave China.
The streets don’t have much action on them at this time of morning. Strangely, outdoor tables are set up at some cafes. Don’t the proprietors notice the heavy skies? Don’t they sense the threat of rain?
On a nice day, you can imagine this town is really cute, with its canals, bridges, red lanterns and colorful umbrellas and signs.
After our walk, we go back to the room to bundle up some more as it’s likely to be awfully cold and windy out on the Li River.