Friday, June 6, 2008

China Day 07: A Willingness to be Pleased

I am learning a profound truth (or at least a cut-rate profound truth!) How good a time you are having at almost any activity depends directly on your willingness to be pleased.

I usually presume that each new experience on a trip like this will be fun - such as the Peking Opera a few nights ago, which was weird, but it was a cool, very Chinese experience. Or the jaunt to Alexandria when we went to Egypt: again, a neat experience. I may have been helped by my own ignorance; a couple of the folks on that Alexandria trip complained that they thought it hadn't been that interesting, but I had a great time; when you haven't seen anything much, everything is pretty cool!

Unfortunately, it seems that every time I go on one of these wonderful, glorious trips (okay, both times I have gone on such trips), about a week into the trip, I have day when I just can't do that. I find myself in A MOOD. Not a GOOD MOOD. I don't know if it's just generalized stressines, the remains of jet lag, being away from home, in a foreign country, knowing that if I wandered away from the group I couldn't speak the language and might get lost forever... When in this mood, I am incapable of being pleased. And basically, there's no way to have a good time when you feel like that!

Today there were a bunch of little things that niggled at me, particularly itinerary snafus. It turned out that yesterday's ten minute visit to the Bund was all we were going to get; even though on today's schedule they switched it in yesterday. I wasn't the only person who was confused, and had put off purchases planning to buy things today.

Then we found out that when we leave Shanghai for the river cruise, we aren't flying to Wuhan as our original itinerary says. We were going to fly to Yichang instead, a day's sailing further up the Yangtze. Nobody'd mentioned this before, but it turns out that Grand Circle Travel was phoning people the day before we left to tell them. Dad and I were already driving to Chicago by then, so we didn't get the message.

I got really upset, since I'd been looking forward to several days of cruising. In Egypt, our favorite part was cruising on the Nile; we felt cheated to only get four days of Yangtze cruising rather than five. Apparently a combination of low water levels (early Summer) and high fuel prices had combined to make the Chinese cruise ship company decide not to chug that extra day's distance down the river. Fred explained that the change was really to our benefit: instead of flying to Wuhan and riding a jouncing bus over the mountains to Yichang, we would get to fly there directly in greater comfort. This all seems logical, but it didn't taste good in our mouths, if you see.

Sadly, I managed to infect Dad with my dissatisfied mood by the time we were ready to leave the room for our Shanghai by Night tour. Mea culpa!

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