China Chronicle – Day 16 (Last) (Bangkok/SanFrancisco)

      Our final day was simply (there was actually nothing simple about it) a travel day. We were awakened at 3 AM, and the hotel kindly provided a continental breakfast for our group at 4:00. The rest of the day and night was spent in airplanes or air terminals. We flew first to Tokyo, Japan, a 5 1/2 hour flight, then changed planes and continued onward to San Francisco, an 8-hour flight. Some of our group continued on to home, but we had arranged to spend the night in San Francisco to avoid 18 or 19 hours in the air. We will return to Rhode Island tomorrow on Southwest Airlines.
      For those who have followed our progress on this most interesting and momentous trip, thank you for your interest. It was mind-boggling to me that we had so many hits during our time away — almost 4,000 in all! Hope you enjoyed the pictures. I must apologize that the narratives were fairly sparse, especially toward the end. It got more and more difficult to find the time to post the blog, since the pictures took so long to upload, and I thought that the pictures were more important than my chronicle. I certainly learned a lot during this experience.
     In conclusion, Lee and I like to look back on a trip and attempt to describe our favorite things. I will do a little of this now:
         Favorite Experience – Climbing and walking the Great Wall. It was absolutely awesome to stand on these stones which have lasted for so long.
         Most Beautiful Place – The Li River landscape is other-worldly, and eerily beautiful.
         Best Architecture – Without doubt, the Grand Palace Complex in Bangkok is one of the most stunning places on earth.
          Best City – Hong Kong was the most exciting and cosmopolitan city that we visited. Wish we could have stayed longer.
          Most Sobering Place – To see the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xi’an is a mind-altering experience. To think that this tomb is over 2,000 years old and contains an entire life-sized army for the protection, in the after-life, of one man is absolutely incredible.
         Most Historic Location – The Forbidden City, in Beijing, has witnessed many, many generations of Chinese history and is a glowing testament to the richness and power of this culture.
         Best Small Town – Zhouzhuang, one of China’s "water villages," is adorable. Lee and I have always loved the small places since the cities are always too busy and too hectic. Our boat ride on the canals was truly special.
         Most Unusual Experience – Riding the Maglev Train in Shanghai was another highlight, and totally unexpected since it was not part of our original itinerary.
         Most Serene Location – The Gardens of Suzhou, although crowded with tourists, offer a sense of peace and solitude which is precious. As we strolled through the gardens, there were times when we felt completely alone!
      Thanks again for tuning in! I will return to my usual material in the coming days, although I will definitely post the remainder of the pictures on or about June 1.


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