Monday, October 1, 2018

Our last day in China

We awoke early, as usual, but stayed in the room and got ready for our return to the US.  Since we didn’t leave for the airport until 11:30 we had some time.  We met up with Mark and Cindy to go for a morning walk.  We had seen a park near the Beijing Ritz Carlton Financial Street when we checked online maps.  We wanted to have a late breakfast that would allow us to eat lunch a little later in the afternoon.
Because this is the first day of the Golden Week holiday, we wanted to stay away from attractions that typically attract Chinese tourists. We had seen so many people the day before in the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square that we knew that we did not want to go in that direction today.
Writing Chinese characters in water on the sidewalk
We found the small park after walking only a short distance.  There tends to be a small fee to enter parks in China.  Having an entry fee provides a funding source to provide for cleaning and upkeep.  In addition, the entry fee helps to keep vagrants out of the park.
This small park was very well kept and clean.  There were maintenance staff constantly cleaning and making the park more attractive.  There was a nice selection of trees and shrubs that were all labeled in English and Chinese.  The grass was well groomed and there wasn’t a shred of litter to be seen.  One of the buildings was getting a new roof of the grey tiles that are so common throughout China. 
Mark and I looked for a geocache while we were in the park.  After a short hunt, Mark was able to make the find of a small metal can covered in camo tape.  I was happy to find one last geocache while we were in China. 
We walked on for a bit and saw a man writing on the sidewalk with a large sponge brush and water.  We watched him for some time creating the Chinese characters on the concrete.  There was also a man juggling a large yoyo as he exercised. 
Man exercising with a yoyo in a Beijing park
We took the short walk back to our hotel and checked out before going to a late breakfast at the hotel.  We especially enjoyed our last Chinese breakfast.  We will certainly miss the selection of Asian vegetables and items that we don’t usually get at home.  Even more, it was a nice treat to have someone cooking and cleaning up for us.  I have some to enjoy the yams and sweet potatoes and the rice congee at meals.  Mary will miss the dumplings stuffed with everything from pork to shrimp to bean paste. 
We got on the bus taking us to the airport at 11:30 and made the trip to the airport in less than an hour.  We had no issues getting through security although there were long lines. and we knew it would take a while.  We saw a few people from the Viking trip once we were through security, but they went to different areas of the huge Beijing airport.  We sat with Mark and Cindy until near our boarding time then we walked to our gate and caught our flight. 
Our seatmate was a lady from Detroit who has been living in China since her husband works for Ford and is assigned to China.  She was interesting and had some great insights into living in China as an American.
We dozed a little and watched a few movies to while away the time on the flight.  I hoped that I could sleep for much of the flight but I was only able to nap a little.  I knew it would be difficult to adjust to the 12 hour time difference back in the US.  We had heard that our bodies require one day to adjust for each time zone crossed.  By that reckoning we would be nearly two weeks recovering from the jet lag after returning from China. 
We arrived in Detroit to change planes.  We picked up our bags from the international flight and took them to security for the short domestic flight from Detroit to Cincinnati.  There were no issues getting through customs or security.  We didn’t have a lot of time to spend at the Detroit airport but had plenty of time to get to our flight. 
We got to Cincinnati a little before 6 pm and had a nice surprise waiting on us.  Sarah came to the Cincinnati airport to meet us and drive us to the airport Hilton Hotel where we used OneStopParking to park the car during our vacation.  It was great to see Sarah and to hear how she and the Koehlers were doing while we were away.
We made the drive from the Cincinnati airport to our home in a little over an hour.  When we got home we had another nice surprise.  Emily had stocked the refrigerator for us.  We had cleaned most of the perishables out of the house in anticipation of our three week trip so we were very scarce on food.  It was nice to have food there waiting on us. 
Although we are still sleeping on air mattresses at the house, we had no trouble sleeping.  We were still excited from all of the things we had seen and done on our trip we were still happy to be home.  We were anxious to see family and friends and get back in a normal routine.