It is winter-time in China. I am thankful we have developed a positive ‘one day at a time, attitude of gratitude’ over the past six decades. It made our re-entry easier.
We arrived with our mental and physical conditions in good shape, despite the long trip. It seemed especially long between San Francisco and Hong Kong, in spite of plenty of entertainment opportunities.
This is now our home, and it was good to be back. We sure rested well the first night in our China bed! It took three nights and two naps before we had our ‘days and nights’ straight. 🙂
Keven had turned on the apartment heaters in advance of our arrival, so it was 65 degrees in the bedrooms and 59 in the other rooms when we arrived….with two layers of clothes, it was comfortable…and still working to get a little warmer.
Terry stayed warm the first two days cleaning the mess left by workmen who did some repair work while we were away…plus getting 6.5-week dust off everything. I have found again that I do not like being cold…enjoyed warm weather in South Florida and Texas so it did not prepare me for our return. 🙂
The ‘Prayer Room’ in the Hong Kong airport got our attention. Since it is now under the influence of China, it is a good sign, and one we hope to help create more of on the Mainland. I cannot honestly say that I remember seeing one in an American airport, though they are certainly in hospitals and other public places.
During a two-hour layover in Hong Kong it struck me anew that we really are in this part of the world….for someone who had not traveled outside of the USA very often, this is really something.
On a wet and cold San Antonio morning, just before we began our return to China, Brinson and Wendy (see photos) competed in a 5K race and took 3rd and 4th, respectively, in their age groups. Brinson finished in 32 minutes and competed against boys four years older! The rest of us, along with hundreds of Lackland Air Force Base trainees, just got soaking wet and ‘froze to our bones.’
I noticed in Hong Kong that there was virtually no one staring at us, which is unusual. It probably speaks to the international status of the area…they are used to seeing foreigners. We experienced the identical realization in Beijing on our way out of the country December 26.
We really do admire the professional staff of flight attendants on Asian flights…it reminds us of the old Pan Am airlines from America-past. Every is dressed alike and are very helpful professions. They showed no noticeable affects from staying awake for over 14 hours of over-night travel while constantly helping the passengers.
Since I upgraded my Dell laptop computer on this trip, I was without an internet connection for the first five days…the university has to configure the IP address so they can ‘talk’ to each other and no one was on campus and back to work until Monday. It made the weekend long, and difficult not being able to fully communicate to the family that we had arrived ’safe and sound.’
We have definitely learned patience here. When I was without internet connections last year when we first came, I was pretty upset, figuring that it was provided as part of my salary and “it better be fixed now.” Now I know it takes a few days, but is usually handled in a professional way.
Keven gave Terry a textbook for one of her classes last night, the day before classes begin. It means she will have three lesson plans per week instead of the expected two. Again, we just smiled and said ‘thank you’ and moved forward.
I experienced first-hand the expense of having to pay the car rental companies for daily insurance, since we no longer own a car and are not paying monthly automobile insurance for the first time in our life. It added around $40 per day to the cost of rental.
It was disappointing that I was not barely part of the 111.3 million who watched the Super Bowl, the largest-ever watched TV show in American history. I was able to see some of the second quarter while in the Phoenix airport on the way between San Antonio and San Francisco, but did catch many replays while visiting Michael, Adona, and Louise in Danville.
Terry, Eric, Wendy and the children took part in an Asian Culture Fair in San Antonio….experienced some of the things they will see when they come to China in August.
We just got back from the back-gate market. Found the fresh vegetables and fruits to be plenteous, though everything was very cold due to the outdoor temperature.
Keven called and made an appointment for a journalist and photographer to spend time with us in our apartment….she wanted to talk about Valentine’s Day customs in the two countries….asked lots of questions about how we met, what Americans do with gifts, etc., during this special holiday. Claire, the lady journalist, was very professional and thorough, and the two young men took care of the photos. She works for the Chutian Metropolis Daily, part of the Hubei Daily Media Group. (We were promised we would see the article when it published and they also are going to share some of the pictures by email attachment).
On our second day back, Howard and his family wanted to treated us to a delicious dinner at a local restaurant. He stopped by for a long visit, and it was good to see him. We had to take a rain-check on the meal, due to TJ developing a persistent cough and the return of cold-like conditions she had in Texas during the final days in America.
Our Sister/friend Sophia (a messenger from heaven) took us to the local hospital to have blood work. Everything went smoothly…I am checking my blood-sugar level and they do have an A1C test here…while Terry is checking her liver to make sure it is OK for continuing her traditional Chinese medicine treatment for Vitiligro (she has a progress report on that effort, and I will let her give it). It took a few minutes to work through the different medical terms between the countries, but they found what they needed for me to move forward. We picked up the results the same afternoon.
The charge to see the doctor? $2.25 (USA). The blood work was 100 yuan each ($16). We now have a hospital card with our vital statistics on it for quick informational purposes, when/if we need to go back. We should get reimbursed for these fees through the medical insurance provided by the school contract, though we know it will take a while for the process to be completed.
I also found metformin again at the pharmacy: 40 yuan ($6.25) for 960 tablets….I take four, two times a day, so it is hard to beat the price! 🙂
We are also making plans to find a dentist to get our teeth cleaned regularly, while I also am going to have a crown and, hopefully, some whitening treatments.
We have two new stores outside our front gate…new decorations and paint, replacing much older establishments. It is slowly becoming brand new…some progress is great, but one of the older grocery stores is much missed by many of us.
Ed Mosby just paid a visit…a good man doing a great work! And a new English teacher is here ready to teach classrooms of students Oral English and Good News….we had a schedule conflict and missed a meal with others here and will meet Jessica another time.
Our first Sunday morning discussion with the teachers was pre-empted by a faculty meeting, but they are committed to our weekly sessions….we are going to study Mark’s story of the Master…will have two groups with a total of seven, so far, but we are surprised with new students often.
We have realized that we’ll likely be able to spend some time in Washington and Arkansas with family next year on our winter break, since we will not be visiting Eric and the family in Texas (remember, they are coming to China to teach Oral English in August).
Let me highly recommend Cathay Pacific for travel to China. It’s the second time we’ve entered this way, and they are top-notch! In-flight movies and great food…here is their customer commitment: Our vision is to be the world’s best airline. Being the best means we always strive to excel in everything we do. Our dynamic team provides the highest quality of service so that you are happy you chose Cathay Pacific. Our mission is to put safety first, provide outstanding products and services and deliver service straight from the heart. Cathay Pacific aircraft depart more than 138,000 times each year, serving more than 26 million customers in 142 destinations in 39 countries.
The Chinese are coming. And the U.S. travel industry couldn’t be happier. Eager to spend their growing disposable income, travelers from mainland China’s wealthy and rising middle classes are traversing the globe in search of iconic destinations they can cross off their bucket lists.
That wanderlust has increasingly brought them to a dream destination, the USA, in recent years as travel restrictions on them eased. Despite occasional economic and political dust-ups between the two nations’ governments, a record number of Chinese visitors came to the U.S. in 2011.
Steps announced last month by President Obama to speed up visas for them should result in even more Chinese arrivals, further unlocking a huge source of income that the U.S. travel industry and retail business sector have long coveted.
So huge is the Chinese travel market potential that major U.S. travel suppliers — including hotels and airlines, as well as major cities and even shopping malls — are sending sales representatives to China. They’re educating tour operators in Chinese cities that few Americans have heard of. And hotels in this country are now serving rice porridge for breakfast and seeking Mandarin Chinese speakers to handle the phones and check-in desks.
“It’s astonishing,” says Fred Dixon, NYC & Company’s senior vice president of tourism & convention development. “It’s one of the powerhouse markets.”
Indicative of the growth and potential: In the first 10 months of 2011, visits from mainland Chinese rose 36% year-over-year to 940,000, according to the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Chinese visitors’ spending in the U.S. shot up 39% in 2010 to $5 billion, a growth rate that outpaced visitors from all other countries who have been traditionally high spenders here. That spending put the Chinese in seventh place among foreign visitors, overtaking France.
“U.S. travel and tourism exports to China have increased by at least 30% in six of the last seven years,” the trade administration’s 2010 report says. “U.S. travel and tourism exports account for 24% of all U.S. services exports to China.” But the current visitation figures matter less in the eyes of travel marketers than the sheer potential the Chinese market promises.
About 70 million Chinese crossed their border in 2011, spending $69 billion, according to China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, a Germany-based research firm. And they’ve just begun.