Thursday, June 12, 2008

China Day 13: Winding Down

On the way back to the bus we encountered some street vendors selling fans much like the ones I admired back in Tiananmen Square. I attempted to bargain for them and got rooked: on arriving back at the bus there were girls selling the same fans for half what I paid. This seems oddly familiar. As a result of these experiences I have now formulated a bargaining rule: BUY BY THE BUS. The closer you are to the bus, the better price you will get. If you find a vendor actually clinging to the bus steps, that's probably the most motivated seller, from whom you should definitely buy!

Our last stop before returning to the Princess Elaine was a tiny little museum devoted to the Hanging Coffins. The best part was a model of one particular cliff where many of these coffins were found. Pretty nifty!

Back to the boat, and lunch, after which Fred was going to give a talk about Tibet. Since that's not my cuppa yak-butter tea, I decided to shop for a scroll painting. The Princess Elaine has a resident artist whose work was on display all up and down one of the stairwells; I found a lovely painting of the Qutang Gorge which will go nicely in my house.

After the Chengdu Earthquake last month they've been getting pretty concerned about the "Quake Lakes" - places where rivers got blocked by debris, and large amounts of water accumulated. The Chinese equivalent of the US Army Corps of Engineers blew one of them up recently, and a bunch of debris and flotsam washed into the Yangtze:

Three days ago we attended the Welcome Show; well, tonight we got to see the Farewell Show. Much shorter than the first one, and they were trying to recruit acts from among the passengers without much success. In the end, they settled for an audience participation game: Potato Polo. They drafted three gentlemen - Rodney and John from our group and one gentleman with a group from England - and tied potatoes to the backs of their belts. The object was to putt a second potato across the finish line by swinging the first potato.
All three players were game, giving their full effort to the process. John showed great determination
especially considering his carpet handicap - the other two had smooth floor! - but in the end Rodney triumphed!
The show also included some singing and dancing, and wound up with a big production number at the end of which the performers formed the Olympic Rings:
(Imagine a "Ta Dah" kind of chord...)

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