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Across the Middle Kingdom

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9 August

8 August 1998 - Guilin / Guangzhou / Hong Kong

Another day, another flight. Woo.

In Guangzhou, we went to see a tallish pagoda whose name escapes me. I eschewed climbing it in favor of watching Brandon climb it, and then questing for something cold. I came up with an orange ice-pop sort of thing which was very good and cost next to nothing. We also visited a family shrine, which is a largish complex devoted to the worship of the one family's ancestors, and to (what else?) tourist sales. The buildings were in fact quite lovely, with detailed and colorful carving all over.

Just after a nice lunch, we bid a fond and teary farewell to Curtis. Well, okay, it wasn't teary. However, we did say goodbye, as he had a flight to catch and we had a boat to catch.

The hydrofoil to Hong Kong was a much more pleasant trip than I had expected. Typically I'm afraid of travelling on open water-- flying over it is okay, but boats generally are not. This was quite different. As we reached cruising speed and the boat raised itself, the sensation became one of flying, albeit at a very low altitude, above the water. The boat was quite steady, only rocking as it passed through the wake of another ship. We passed quite close to several ships; far closer, I think, than would be allowed in U.S. waters, which was very cool. I wonder if they caught any of our spray.

We also passed under an enormous suspension bridge, truly overwhelming in its scale. I wasn't able to get any pictures, thanks to the water-streaked window and my own worsening condition, which had something of a weakening effect.

After about an hour and a half, we arrived in Hong Kong harbor just at sunset. I know I've been using this word a lot, but the city was spectacular. I did manage a few pictures from the boat; hope they turn out. The buildings, even more than the mountains, soared above us and seemed somehow very unreal-- gleaming odd colors and accented with light and mutual reflection, tinted by the setting sun and a clear deep blue sky. And the boats-- hundreds of them, in every conceivable size and configuration! We even saw an honest-to-God junk, which we were told is one of the last.

Docking, we disembarked and made our slow way through customs. Our guide turned up right away and shepherded us to the bus. As we waited, we had a bit of a scare: Mickey had a dizzy spell and very nearly collapsed. Kat went into full-bore mother-hen-with-an-RN mode, shoving (figuratively) Mickey onto the bus and basically pulling an Al Haig. If I'd been in any shape to appreciate it, I think I would have found it very cute. Unfortunately, I was in fairly bad shape by this point, and Brenda wasn't doing too much better.

The minute we arrived at the Great Eagle Hotel, Kat grabbed the head desk clerk and said, in effect, "Doctor. Now." So they called a doctor. It took him a while to arrive, so we checked in and got up to our room, which was very, very nice. And we waited.

Sooner or later, we perused the room service menu and realized that we were back in a Western culture-- at least, that's what the prices indicated to me.

Then, at long last, the doctor arrived-- and kindly old gentleman who did the usual diagnostics, pronounced my lungs clear (thus ruling out pneumonia), and prescribed me Cefaclor, a decongestant, a fever suppressant, a cough suppressant, and Valium, of all things. Kat thinks it was because I seemed very agitated while he examined me, but geez, I had to cough. What was I supposed to do?

Dinner was worth the price.

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