Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Saturday December 24th, 2011 (Chirstmas Eve in China)

knock knock knock

“That must be our breakfast.”

I opened the door.  A petite Chinese woman handed me a bag, nodding her head politely before continuing with her deliveries.

I spread out our Christmas Eve Breakfast, describing the contents to Karl.

“Two juice box drinks…looks like milk.  And….ten slices of white bread.”


No complaining for the low, low price of free.  Fortunately, I had thought to bring along a jar of peanut butter.  

We forgot a butter knife, but fortunately the pen in the room worked.
As we feasted upon our bread, peanut butter and what turned out to be yogurt drinks, we lazily flipped through the TV channels.  Sleazy hotel rooms in Guangzhou have a decidedly un-Christmasy ambience.  So when we came upon a PBS Christmas concert special with Andrea Boccelli (in English!) we sat back and soaked in the Christmas cheer.  There was even a number featuring the Muppets.

After a while we decided to make some of the provided tea to wash down the peanut butter bread.  As I was handing a cup to Karl, I laughed.  We would not be drinking any tea.  There was lipstick on the cup.  Sure, we could have wiped them off and ignored it…but no.  We didn’t want tea that badly.

After the Christmas concert ended, we decided to go explore Guangzhou.  Since we didn’t have a single Chinese yuan on us, we just took a walk.  No delicious Chinese lunch for us.  

By far the most interesting thing we found was an open-air food market.  What a way to shop for groceries.  

Fresh produce, as far as the eye can see.
Who wants a snake in a bag!?
How about a turtle or an eel?
So many varieties of mushrooms.
Shopping for fish.
The aftermath of a chicken.
Geese, waiting to be sold.
Surrounded by a mountain range of cookware.
Digging through the mandarins.
Many varieties of rice.

After wandering around for a while, we made our way back to our hotel.  We were being driven back to the airport that afternoon. 

Once we arrived at the airport, we made it through security with enough time to spare to buy something to eat that was not bread and peanut butter.  Thank goodness.

Unfortunately our plane this time was significantly smaller and less comfortable than the previous flight.  Sigh.  We were surrounded by cranky, rude people and crying babies.

It was a long flight.

When we touched down in New Delhi, it was 9 pm, the same day.  We successfully made our way through security, retrieved our luggage and exchanged our money.  Now we just had to make it to our hotel.

If you are like me, then you are the type of person who does extensive reading about your destination before traveling.  For India in particular, I feel this was very wise.  I learned many things about traveling in India, including how to take a taxi.

India is full of people who try to take advantage of unsuspecting foreigners.   

As we cleared security and walked out to the airport exit, we were practically mobbed by taxi drivers wanting to secure our business. 

“Hello! Hello!  Where you want to go?  I take you there!  Come! My car! Hello! Hello! You come with me!”

We ignored their attempts to grab our luggage and made our way to the pre-paid taxi booth.  It’s the only way to get a taxi in India without haggling for a decent price.

Unfortunately, we did not see the official Police run booth (by far the most reasonable fare you will get) but instead went to the private company pre-paid booth. 

Pre-paid taxis are important for a few reasons:  1) You will get a fair price. 2) The driver will take you where you want to go.  There have been countless instances of travels being taken to the wrong hotel because, “Your hotel is sold-out. No rooms.  No worry-my brother runs a hotel.  Very nice.”  I was thankful that I had taken the time to study maps and locations of our hotels.

We made it safe and sound to our hotel (which was clean in terms of Indian hotels) set the alarm, showered and collapsed into bed after our very long and tiring Christmas Eve.

One more day of travel lay between us and our destination.
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