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21 July 2024
Chongqing skyline from the Yangtze river.

I woke up early & had a cup of tea around 6:30 in the Yangtze Bar before going for breakfast. I saw Selina, our waitress, before she left, thanked her for looking after me & then went for breakfast.

Chongqing to Beijing.

Today, we left the Victoria Selina, our home for the last few days, & should be spending some time looking around Chongqing, the huge city we are docked at. Unfortunately, it is pouring with rain & our tour rep & today's guide decided to scrap the normal tour that we would do & took us instead on a tour that will allow us to stay a little dryer.

Chongqing.

Due to the rain, our guide took us on a short coach tour of Chongqing. One of the first things we noticed was the gradient of the mountains here; I am glad we didn't have to walk far. We visited a temple close to the river & as the ladies in the party were worried about the rain & Ewen had decided point blank he didn't want to look around, I amused myself, & lots of Chinese people by doing my rendition of Fred Astaire's singing in the rain. I sang I danced & I splashed around in the puddles, but I could get no one to join me in the rain.

I found the museum very interesting & the guide was very amusing. After being shown around the temple grounds, its different rooms & learning about its history, we were shown a Banyan Tree & told how to gauge the age of the trees by the size of their leaves. We were then taken to a small shop where we were shown Banyan tree leaves that have been skillfully painted by father & son artists. We were told they are the only people in China licenced to do this work. Whether this is true or not, the artwork is fantastic & I used up some of my last remaining Yuan, purchasing a framed leaf with a painting of the Original city of Chongqing. It cost ¥180 & was one of my favourite souvenirs of the trip.

Whilst in the temple, our guide said that she liked my hat & compared me to the Kung Fu panda who had a similar hat. I believe by this, she didn't mean that I was fat, but rather that she meant that, like a panda, I was revered & should be respected. This was shortly put right when she saw the Jade Buddha hanging around my neck; she remarked that I had a tummy like a happy Buddha. I offered to let her rub it, to bring her luck, but she declined as her husband may not have felt it was lucky.

After the temple, we were taken to a museum to look around where we would be able to stay out of the rain. After walking around for a while with Mel & Tracy, I decided I had had my fill of culture & decided to go to the cafe for a drink & to sit down for a while. Tracy joined me & we walked towards the Museum Cafe.

It was on the way to the Cafe that I was approached by a girl waving a camera at me. She was a student at a local university & would like a photo taken with me. I tell her that is fine & her friend takes our photo & asks if she can have her photo with me. As the second photo is being taken, the rest of the university group of girls appear, about 16 of them. I then had my photo taken with groups of the girls, girls on their own, with me wearing my kung fu panda hat & with them wearing my kung fu panda hat. The photoshoot was watched over by our guide, Branwen, who said she had never seen anything like it. She told us she is used to girls being asked for their photos because of their blonde hair or blue eyes, but this is the first time she has had a member of her party who is seen as a sexy Buddha or Panda pin-up.

After fighting off all of my adoring fans, Tracy & I settled down in the cafe, where I was surprised to find they served Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. I purchased us both one of these special coffees & we waited for the rest of the gang to finish their look around the museum.

We all left the museum & were then taken to lunch in Chongqing. The coach driver performed an unbelievable 3-point turn, & reverse movement on a busy road & we parked up to walk a short distance to our restaurant. We walked past a large pet shop with hundreds of caged birds singing for their freedom & I was convinced I was not the only person who wondered if there was a link between the pet shop & our restaurant's kitchen. We enjoyed dinner & said goodbye to each other & to our guide, Branwen. Branwen told us, with tears in her eyes, that we are the nicest group she has ever had. We, of course, believed her.

After lunch, we were taken to a hotel where we had two rooms in which we could freshen up & get ready for the flight home. Ewen takes the key to the men's room & goes straight up to refresh himself. Rob decided to do a bit of last-minute shopping & disappeared into Chongqing. I refreshed myself in the bar, where I was joined by Michael. The girls took turns using their room & then settled in the hotel bar to wait for our coach to the airport. Mel, Michael & I all played an impromptu game of 'Guess the song & who sang it', courtesy of my laptop. After a few hours, we left for the airport.

Route home.

Chongqing to Beijing.

Our gate at the airport was changed & when we arrived at the new gate, there were lots of people milling about due to already cancelled flights. There was a large storm front coming in. Our flight was delayed for a few hours & were lucky to catch our connection.

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