Arnie & Friend
|The flight from
Xi’An to Guilin was delayed but we arrived just after lunch and
were whisked to our hotel The Guilin Park. This pagoda-like
building is deceptive in size as it is built on a rise
surrounded by park greenery and a lake. To walk into town you
must cross tiny ornate bridges or follow the crowded bus route.
It is a very peaceful setting. I had stayed there before and was
happy about the choice. Families with children played around the
water and some senior citizens spent their time fishing.
There are oddities
about Guilin. My favorite is the rock mountain that comes down to the
river. It has a tunnel carved where it meets the water and if you use
your imagination you can see the elephant shape with the trunk dipping
into the water. Hence Elephant Hill, a popular spot for visitors.
Over the years the
rushing water has carved away the stone at the water’s edge. Ancient
believers used it as a place of worship and carvings can still be seen
over the natural caves. They call it the Sword of Stone.
Nearby Mt. Maoer
affords the visitor with a chance to see the regional mountains that
look like inverted ice cream cones. And through these mountains, the
Lijiang or Li River wends it’s way into a land of mystery. All along
there are mountain formations at turns in the river to draw your
interest. The quiet restaurant boat allows you to walk on deck and enjoy
a sumptuous meal indoors at mid day. You start your adventure near the
town’s Fubo Hill, Elephant Trunk and Pagoda Hill. Many people took
pictures of Yearning For husband rock as we floated towards Yangshuo.
Young men tied
their make-shift boat to our ship and sold souvenirs as we moved over
the water. Courage and determination …
We saw The Painted
Hill of Nine Houses, Snail Hill, Page-Boy Hill and Lotus Peak. Then, at
the end, we were greeted by hundreds of souvenir salespeople. It spoiled
the mood and mystery of the cruise but people still ran around looking
for bargains that were easily discovered. I personally slept on the bus
I wasn’t really
ready for Shanghai. I knew it was dynamic and exciting but only when
you’re there can you appreciate the pace of growth and the teeming
throngs all living in one incredible city. And it is incredible. The
city has its own farms, dairies and food supply depots. It is self
sustaining and growing daily. Just a walk past the Peace Hotel and along
Nanking Road allows you to feel the city’s size. There are shops for
every taste, restaurants, museums, tours and people, people, people.
It’s where you go during the day while at night you either walk along
the Bund, at the water’s edge, or sail along the peaceful river as
skyscrapers of all shape and color show off their futuristic faces. The
colors change, the boat drifts along and you almost have to pinch
yourself. “Is this really the old city of Shanghai?” It is Shanghai but
the old is fast disappearing into the jaws of the new.
Even the once proud
Jewish community where thousands fled the Japanese and followed their
ancient traditions is merely a synagogue shell and a tiny museum. Yet,
it’s worth a visit just to be able to look back at another age.
The Ohel Moishe
Synagogue built in 1927 and Memorial Hall take viewers back to the WWII
years when this was the refugee ghetto for almost 10,000 people. The
Chinese and the Jewish refugees got along very well and many people owe
their survival to the friendship between them and the shelter they from
Nazi genocide. Many survivors have returned over the years to visit
their wartime home.
The Memorial is
situated at 62 Changyang Rd., Shanghai 200082. They can be reached by
Fax at 86-21-65120229 or by Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I sat in a park
sipping a cold fruit punch. Out of the corner of my eye I could see a
man doing a sketch of me. It wasn’t overly professional but it was a
step up from those beggars I saw on every street corner looking for a
free handout. Modernity has arrived but poverty still exists.
And speaking of
modernity, aside from the luxury hotels and modern skyscrapers, Shanghai
boasts the most modern transportation system to the airport. A one hour
trip from downtown Shanghai can take about an hour. From the city to
Pudong Airport can be reached for about $6 on a magnetic levitation
train that rides a guideway in under 8 minutes.
I traveled by bus
next to the guideway when the MAGVEL went by. The Roadrunner of old had
a new meaning. The SWOOSH of the train had passed me before I could
blink an eye. We were traveling at 50 kph. The train was doing about 440
Kph only a few yards away. The ride from the past to the future flashed
by with hardly any noise. It is the most futuristic and fastest train in
the world built partly with German investment and technology.
Shanghai is not to
be believed. The skyscrapers seem to reach the sky. The tourist boats
ply the rivers as gawkers snap pictures. The city seems to be bursting
its seams. It is vibrant, alive and not to be missed. Imagine a city of
over seventeen million with 2,577 medical and public health
organizations, 28 public libraries, 90 museums and 59 institutions of
higher learning and advanced vocational and technical colleges.
It is a socialist
modern international metropolis and it grows daily. It is a modern port,
a gateway to the interior and the largest economic and transport center
in China. You must see it.
But our stay ended
and off we flew to another growing metropolis, the great city of Hong
Kong. Now part of China, this one time British Colony still has a
western feeling and won’t be entirely integrated into mainstream China
for decades. Here you can eat western food and still get the feeling of
the Chinese culture. It is neither east nor west.
It is strictly Hong
Dana & Arnie in
on Mody Rd. looked out over the bay and the peak of Victoria in
the distance. Here in Kawloon you could see fast motor launches
heading to Macao laden with visitors. But there is so much to
see and do on both sides of the bay I put off Macao for another
back and forth on the ferry that crosses the bay every few
minutes. We went to famous Repulse Bay, learned about the
British years of this great magnet of a city and had dinner on
top of Victoria peak looking down on both cities as though we
were flying over.
An American or
European style restaurant was on our wish list. While the food was
excellent in China we were ready for something more Western. We selected
the INCONTRO Italian Restaurant at 68 Mody Rd near our hotel. We made
the right choice.
Italian restaurant set just off the main street and a stone’s throw from
the water boasted modern Italian décor and a personable food and
beverage director. Sergio Marini was just what one would expect in this
far away Italian eatery. He was charming and full of enthusiasm. And it
was all for good reason. We descended on him in a group without a
reservation and were quickly seated. We watched the waiters deliver
heaping plates of colorful vegetables, steaming pastas and mounds of
bread. The problem ordering our meal centered around Incontro’s gigantic
menu. What to order?
I started with I
Fagioli all’ Uccelletto, or white Tuscana beans with bacon, cherry
tomatoes, garlic extra virgin oil and herbs. My wife selected the Il
Fegato d’Oca or Pan fried Goose liver with Porto wine sauce. She has
always had a craving for Goose liver. This dish was served with apples
and strawberries. I then tacked my healthy portion of I Saltimbocca alla
Romans; Bal escallop with sage wine sauce, rosemary, garlic, roasted
potatoes and broccoli. Dana enjoyed another of her favorites, Risotto ai
Porcini, Arborio rice with porcini mushrooms.
68 Mody Rd. Hong
was from Chianti and the desert was that wonderful Il
Millefoglie puff pastry with zabaglione cream and wild berries.
Capachino and cognac made it a perfect meal as did the charming
waitress who served us and always attentive Sergio Marini.
the next day to take some photographs. He shook my hand like I
was an old friend. It was a perfect end to a perfect holiday.