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Jo’s China Diary

March 1-3, 2008

As many of you may know I was quite sick for all of February with bronchitis complicated by asthma and it was a close call to see if I would make this trip. On Thursday I felt dreadful and could hardly walk from my comfy chair in the living room to the kitchen. Since seeing my doctor on Monday I had been using a breathing machine instead of inhalers. I felt better on Friday when I faced my doctor who was telling me if I could go on this trip or not. I didn’t really give him that opportunity as I said I must go on this trip and I need you to help me. He concluded that my breathing had improved since Monday so he extended the use of prednisone for several days and said to take our breathing machine and inhalers. Fortunately I had done pill counting and much of the packing before I had my cataract surgery on February 18th not knowing my limitations after that. Turns out that was good planning though I was still puttering until the last minute to pack and clean up the house.

We were picked up at 6:30 P.M. and flew Cathay Pacific from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. The plane was very tight and crowded and full and I worried that I wouldn’t get any sleep at all but I did quite well. I got one four hour stretch and then tried to figure when to do all my procedures- drops for the eyes and inhalers and taking of assorted pills plus prednisone. I took a sleeping pill and then after that helped for four hours I took a vicodin to help me relax and got two more hours. This had to last me for what was to be a 35 hour day!

We arrived in Hong Kong about 4 A.M. and had several hours wait before our plane to Beijing. I remember walking for exercise, watching CNN in this lovely new terminal, then trying to sleep but couldn’t, and listening to Polezhayev music on my phone for comfort! We spotted out Dragonair plane outside the window. It certainly was decorative and a marvelous flight. Dragonair, I read from the flight magazine, has been voted the best Asian Airline in 2007. All their attendants were well trained, both beautiful and handsome, and very helpful whenever I needed anything. Arriving at the Beijing airport we could not find our person who was to meet us. At last we found him. He wasn’t standing in a prominent spot but eventually rounded up 6 or 8 of us and spoke to us as we traveled along for the 45 minute ride to the hotel.

The building along the way was amazing. No more open fields. All tall buildings. What a change! We arrived at the beautiful China World Hotel probably about 4 P.M. or later. The lobby was not to be believed. Beautiful music playing and chandeliers like the Dorothy Chandler. Our room was very lovely and then everything went wrong! Phil had forgotten the converter for the breathing machine so we called for one. Next we learned the plugs by the desk weren’t working so the computer wouldn’t work. Called for an electrician. When I took off my pants there was a six inch rip in my behind! Called for the tailor. We had all these people swarming in and out of our room while we were trying to take showers and get ready to go out for dinner. In a very efficient way all our problems were solved within an hour. Somehow we found the reserve to get ready to meet Jia Bin and Anita who are the parents of Peter who is a student at Harvey Mudd this year and stayed with our Peter and Linda and family!

Wow what an evening. They were so good to us and had made reservations 10 days ago to take us to the new Peking Duck Restaurant by the name of Beijing DaDong Roast Duck Restaurant. It was gorgeous and they ordered everything for us and explained what is was. Somewhere I tried to write it down the next day but don’t know where. We had course after course and really enjoyed the food but even more the visiting with them both. It is a rare opportunity to visit with a native and we enjoyed them so much. Anita is a substitute teacher in a local high school. They moved to Beijing from Taiwan in about 1993. He has established his own business and has invented something similar to the I-phone and is doing very well. What a fabulous evening. I wished I had been a bit more perky but really enjoyed every minute with them. Bed felt very good that night. We feel very well welcomed to Beijing. What a lovely way to start our trip!