Sunday, 7 December 2008
Morning in Ningbo
Our hotel package included breakfast - and our visit to the restaurant the night before did nothing to inspire confidence in our breakfast plans. How right we were. There was nothing exciting on the menu - it was a buffet, with the usual traditional Chinese foods, but old and worn looking in their bowls. We had some juice, and picked at a few things. The dumplings were awful, and to top it off there was some issue with the tea and coffee. Their lack of English didn't help so we left hoping to find something later.
Our plan was to check out, and meet a student and his aunt at Tianyi Square - a huge shopping place in the centre of the city. We could catch a taxi, as it was so far away and I had my big backpack to lug. It didn't have much in it - but still awkward and anyway we didn't know EXACTLY where to go.
When we checked out I asked them to write "Tianyi Square" in Chinese on some paper. They were concerned about us going there. Tried to talk us out of it - with lots of waving and "Mai o" (No!), and it turns out that they were concerned that we would have nothing to do as the shops did not open until 10 am!!!
Eventually we got our precious Chinese characters on paper, and the concierge, a lovely senior gent got a taxi for us. So off we went!
We arrived at the square in front one of the Pizza Huts, and sent a text messge to the student who soon arrived with his aunt. She has lived in New Zealand for the last 11 years, with her husband and two children and was in China to visit family - leaving her NZ family back there. She was a delight and both of them spoke almost perfect English.
Our first stop was Starbucks - so we had a good cup of coffee and something to eat. I had a brilliant cranberry scone!
Afterwards we wandered around the square as the shops were still not open. In any case I was not planning any shopping. We walked aroundthe square for a while. To one side of the square was a cathedral - and the student told me it was a church. I smiled and said, "I know." He looked at me surprised! How did I know?
I told him that the "clue" was the cross on the top of the spire. He was most impressed!!
We walked through a small market and I found some beautiful Chinese dolls at a very good price, which I will send back to Australia for two older grandchildren. We had quite a time in the shop. the man was a history major and very interesting, even though he spoke no English.
Afterwards we went to a CD shop - and I found a CD that I had been hunting for. Christmas Carols sung in Chinese. I had heard familiar tunes in Carrefours but the students kept telling me that Chinese people do not sing Christmas carols and thought I had lost the plot a little. I can't wait to place the CD - which actually is a pack of 3 CD's - two in Chinese and one in English!
I also bought a couple of DVD's - on Chinese history, nature and a couple of films.
By now it was lunch time, and we were about to experience the best meal we have had in China!