Monday, October 30, 2006

China: Last day in Fuzhou

It’s our last day in Fuzhou. The program officially ended yesterday and the delegates will be heading home today. Our breakfast call time was 5:30 a.m. since the group had to leave by 6:10 a.m. to catch the flight back to Guangzhou.

I was tired and sleepy from the previous night. After the farewell dinner, our Fujian hosts took the national leaders out for supper (meaning more food and drinks) at a hotel owned by one of the sponsors. And to think I was still stuffed from the lavish banquet prepared for us just two hours earlier.

During supper, I had several shots of Chivas Regal since in China, it is rude to refuse a toast, more so from the hosts. And it is customary to reciprocate by offering a toast as well. When I got back to the hotel, I still did not go to bed since I joined the Singapore contingent at the KTV in the mezzanine for more drinks and some singing. Hehe! When the KTV closed at 2 a.m., I was still up since we were still chatting with other delegates in the room. I just remember that I could no longer keep my eyes open since we had been up late the previous nights, so I just excused myself and went straight to bed.

Although I did not have to wake up early since three of us were staying to catch an evening train to Beijing, I did anyway to say goodbye to everyone. It reminded me so much of SSEAYP since I also stayed behind in Singapore then since each participating country left a representative to attend the World Youth Meeting with delegates of the Ship for World Youth (SWY). It was funny watching everyone board the buses and waving as the buses left since it was as if we were just home and saying goodbye to our guests.

Anyway, I went straight to bed right after. Next thing I knew it was time for lunch so I packed my stuff and met up with the others at the restaurant below. We were planning to go to around in the afternoon. But shock hit us when we asked our guide Justin what time we would arrive in Beijing.

Fuzhou is closer to Beijing than Guangzhou. We knew that the train from Guangzhou would take about 22 hours. And we were told that it would thus be shorter if we left from Fuzhou. So when Justin told us it was 34 hours, we just stood there in disbelief. It turns out, trains from this part of China had to navigate through mountains and thus, it took longer. Sigh! I just told the other two that the good thing about the situation was that instead of arriving in Beijing in the evening and having to spend for a hotel, we were going to arrive at 6 a.m. and thus, after freshening up, could already go around since we would have had enough sleep.

With that settled, we decided to shop for food for the 34 hour trip. But we decided to visit West Lake Park first which was just beside the hotel. The main attraction of the park is the two islands in the middle of the lake connected by old bridges. On one island was the sprawling villa of some rich person who lived several hundred years back.

While walking around, we noticed some people in Chinese costumes from the imperial court. It turns out, the costumes were for rent. And excited to try them out, we went straight to the shop to find out that the rental fee was just RMB5 or roughly PHP35! Just great!

Although wearing the attire of the emperor would have been nice, I decided to wear a red robe because of the hat which accompanied it. It was the one with those propeller-like things sticking out of them. Hehe! I remember seeing them when I was a small kid watching those Chinese movies they played on local television long before. Turns out, it was worn by a member of the court who had topped the examination. We were kidding that when everyone else who had gone home found out about the costume shop, they would feel bad since it was right at the door step of the hotel.

After the fun photo shoot, we rushed to the supermarket to get our food supplies. I got myself some bread with shredded pork, cup noodles, canned pork and 4 liters of water. I planned my menu in such a way that the heavy stuff was for when we were nearing Beijing so that I didn’t have to use the squat toilets while on the train. Haha!

We went back to the hotel for dinner, still courtesy of our hosts, and to get our luggage. A vehicle was also arranged for us to take us to the train station. But as soon as we get on the train, we are on our own.
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