This morning we are gearing up for a big travel day. This is that day in the middle of all of our trips where not much fun happens, lives are threatened, and divorces are contemplated. The dreaded travel within the travel day.

First things first. Ever try to put 10 gallons of water into a 5 gallon bucket?  Me.  Packing.  Internal flights are limited to 20kg (44lb) worth of luggage. It can be 2 bags- but the total weight has to be 44lbs.  And you have an unlimited weight carry on per Person, and a personal item (purse etc).   I came to China knowing this. And I’m not sure how I bought 20lbs worth of tchotchkes in 5 days…. but I did. Not to mention the rum, wine and beer for the cruise that we board tonight for 4 days. And now they have to go in my suitcases. So this makes for the first tense moments of the day. But I got it under control-my carry on is approximately 400lbs.

We head down for breakfast and start the usual coffee and buffet gorging.  See, if you coffee load first thing in the morning, you have a better chance of getting all the necessary “business” done before you leave the comfort of the hotel bathrooms-greatly reducing the risk of having to squat-ie potty number 2 like a Sasquatch in a stream (Chinese bathrooms…..I don’t have words).

Enter Gary stage left. He finishes his third (or as we like to call it- turd) coffee and says he has some matters to take care of.  Off he scrambles to the bathroom.  We slowly finish our coffees and chant and pray for movement-all jealous of Gary’s “situation”.  Eventually we realize that we will just have to wait another 12-15 hours for our next opportunity and resign ourselves to get on the bus.  As we walk out to the bathrooms to meet up with Gary, we meet one of our other tour guests-another one we’ve actually come to like (because she’s spunky, keeps to herself except for random snarky comments, and always dresses nice-we call her Janice. Not sure why. She just looks like a Janice. We don’t like to find out real names. Sends the wrong message. “We like people”. Ewwe.).  Janice is in clear distress coming out of the woman’s bathroom.  Red faced and embarrassed.  She says “girls! I’m so embarrassed!!! I just walked in the men’s washroom! I feel so stupid!! It’s your husband I walked in on Nicole!!! Omg!!!”- we giggle and tell her not to worry-he won’t tell anyone. Then she stops…. looks at the bathrooms again….we all look…..wait……”which bathroom did you come out of?”…..”this one?….with the woman in the DRESS on the sign???”…..”yes…..”

Out walks Gary. From the woman’s washroom.  Smug look on his face. Giving poor Janice the “don’t worry about it you dumb woman” look. Janice proceeded to hit him. Hard. “I thought I was in the wrong bathroom you jerk!!!!!!” Gary still doesn’t get it. “Don’t worry about it! We’ve all done it!”. She hits him again. He’s starting to clue in….. realizing that he just spent 20 minutes defiling the woman’s washroom.  Then he turns 15 shades of red….. realizes what he’s done, giggles and takes his beating.  It probably didn’t help when I piped up and said, “dear god. Tell me he wasn’t peeing in the sink again.”  Word spreads pretty quickly through the bus. Gary is now being referred to as “that creepy guy in seat 17”.  I hope they never find the pics of him in full Geisha powder face with chop sticks in his hair on my Instagram feed.

We leave the hotel and drive to the countryside from the city for a tea plantation tour.  Driving through the mountains looks strangely similar to Chianti or Tuscany-The rows of tea trees planted just like rows of grape vines. All of a sudden we are surrounded by mountains and quaint little villages. We are again given a hard sell about how the tea from this plantation will cure the rickets and the cancer, and a cool demonstration of tea pouring, then released to explore and shop.  This may be my favorite scenic area yet.

Back on the bus for the 3 hour drive back to Shanghai for our flight to Yichang at 7pm.

We stopped at a rest area half way through our drive and are given a chance to pee, walk around and shop… and there were a number of local delicacies on display and for sale. Duck tongues, heads and something marked “treasures” were all smoked and ready for snacking.  Pickled turtle heads and hearts also freeze packaged and flying off the shelves-snatched up by locals.   We decided not to get the typhoid and picked up some beers and chips instead.

Back on the bus for more head bobbing sleep-and off to the airport.   We get to the airport around 3:30-and proceed inside.  We wondered why they had us arriving at the airport so early, and then we tried to enter the airport-and quickly found out.  There is security at the door to start- bag checks and pockets emptied-just to get through the door. Then check in at the desk-they again scan your checked bags and pull you into another room if they find anything of question-they won’t issue you a boarding pass until the checked in bags are scanned.  I got pulled aside because I had magnets from our museum visit-they let me keep them – but I had to dig trough my bags to get to them. Panties and hair care products flying everywhere.  😕 Then you  go through regular security- and they make you take out anything with a battery, and even umbrellas.  I felt very safe. When it comes to airport security I say take all the time you need!!!

Thr flight was quick- 1.5 hours. And then 30 minute bus drive to our boat.  The president #7.  As mentioned, we ingeniously requested an upgrade- and were put in the suites on the top floor- HUGE room and great view from the double balcony.  Nicole and Gary did the same and we are straight across from each other – so a different view from each side. Perfect.

This has been a rarry rarry long day.  I’m ready for sleep!!!