Each day led into the next as we only had a few hours’ sleep between each day and not enough nutritious food. Every morning started with a 4am – 6am lobby call with a bagged breakfast of bread and milk (sometimes a tea-boiled egg) for a 6am-8am flight to the next city, followed by bus ride to hotel, followed by quick change and bus to venue, concert, bus to hotel and/or dinner, sleep a few hours, repeat. Food? Sleep? Shower? Catch it when you can. I took 35 meal bars and 8 small tubs of peanut butter, and came back completely depleted of all, and actually looked forward to the meals on the plane (yeah, I know.) I understand that there are vast cultural differences between our Western standards and Chinese standards for health, accommodations and meals. Many of the hotels and meals were considered “good” by their standards. However, it really makes me count my blessings that I can live in America, where the air is clear and meals are usually safe to consume. Our hotels are generally clean, and the tap water is safe and drinkable. One can obtain safe protein at almost every restaurant in America, even vegan restaurants.
Of course, every one of us had something stolen from our luggage in Xi’an somewhere between the hotel and the airport check-in. For me, it was hosiery. For others, it was electric razors, medicine, anything that looked like money, and almost anything that was packaged (like souvenirs) or jewelry. The thieves had the keys like the TSA to open the locks and close them back so you wouldn’t notice until you were at the next destination.
*the following should be an ad for China tourism:
Are you disgusted by mildew and other dirty fixtures in the bathroom? Does dirty carpet frighten you to the point you never take off your shoes in the room? Are you bothered when businessmen visit the hotel for only a few hours at a time and are visited by female guests during the daytime? If you answered yes to any of these questions, do NOT stay in a “business hotel” in China. Does moldy air in the bus ventilation bother you? Do not take a tour bus in China. Does the multitude of toxins in foreign cigarettes cause you to gag and choke? Do not go into the backstage areas of venues nor stay in “business hotels” where every room is a smoking room and all hallways and elevators are smoke-filled. Take a mask and use it!
Each city did have interesting characteristics, but we had little to no time to explore, except when searching for bottles of drinking water so we can hydrate and brush our teeth. The concert halls in each city were beautiful, and the acoustics were wonderful throughout.
Xining Grand Theatre 12/30/14
Gansu Grand Theatre Lanzhou 12/31/14
Suzhou Grand Theatre 1/1/15 – this one is my favorite with all the LED lights outside
Xi’an Grand Theatre 1/2/15
Shanghai Poly Theatre 1/3/15
Xiamen Grand Theatre 1/4/15
Shanghai Oriental Art Center 1/5/15
Guangzhou Opera House 1/6/15
Once the concerts were complete, we did take time for a wrap party in Connie’s room on the final night. At the airport the next morning, we all said our farewells as many of us parted ways on flights to our respective home cities. As much as we enjoy visiting with each other, we also each had loved ones awaiting us at home for that first new year’s kiss. And a USDA Prime Beef steak, with a fresh garden salad with lots of veggies. And a hot, steaming shower with a soft, warm bed where I stayed for almost three consecutive days upon returning home. Yes, I count my blessings every day, and am so thankful I live in America!