Nov 19, 2007 - OF DRAGONS AND HORSES    3 Comments

The Boat

The Monkey was much like the Rabbit out of Alice in Wonderland. He was efficient and always seeking to keep to a schedule. Filly did her best to keep up.Monkey and Filly made their way into the big city. Monkey had business at the port, but he made sure to point out certain auspicious landmarks and places of interest along the way. Once at the port, Monkey left Filly alone while he went to take care of business and buy their tickets for the next day.

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On my first day in China, my interpreter Eugene took me with him to the Port of Shanghai where he had to make arrangements for our travel by boat up the Yangtze River to the city of Wuhu (a river voyage of about 3 days).Â


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Along the way, he was very conscientious of pointing out landmarks like the Peace Hotel and the Shanghai Zoo.  During our walk around the city, many young men – usually dressed in black – walked past me asking ‘change money, change money’? This was quite common at the time as China had 2 different currencies…Foreign Exchange Money which was the kind foreigners were limited to using and which could be exchanged for American dollars (thus the growth for a black market in currency exchange) and REM NIN BI, the standard currency utilized by the average Chinese. As a ‘Foreign Expert’ my white card allowed me to use both. China has recently placed their currency into the currency market so that it is similar to the dollar.

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I was amazed by the amount of people – EVERYWHERE!! I had been to big cities in the US, but that was hardly a comparison. And bicycles. There were bicycles by the thousands being used as transportation. The bicycle bells would soon become a part of the background noise, but for now, they were somewhat startling because of the large chorus everywhere.

I have secured our passage on the boat for tomorrow. I hope you will find the accommodations to be adequate for you.

At the same time he had secured our tickets on board the boat, Eugene had made cargo transport arrangements. While he was abroad, he had purchased a refrigerator and a washing machine for his wife as a surprise. This was something quite unusual for the Chinese. These items are luxury items and so he was as excited to have them as she would be to receive them. Securing their passage was also quite a feat as the men of the docks (as many workers in China) required being bribed in order to load them on to the boat. I was to learn that bribery was how things get done in China.

Come now, Filly. It is time we return. Tomorrow we will board this ship and begin our journey to Jewel of the Moon. And Filly followed the monkey, taking the sights in around her along the way.


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