Day 3 in Shanghai was a busy day. This was the day we were going back to Coco’s home town to visit her parents and friends for the Chinese New Year festivals. Still a little worn down from the previous day we stayed in bed a little later and finally called a taxi to take us to the old Honggiao airport. This airport is very close to the city, unlike the Poudong airport I flew into which is an hour outside of the city.
We arrived at the airport with some time to spare. After getting our tickets we decided to get some food. We walked to the other side of the airport and on the way found a very large and decorative New Year’s display so I had to stop take a few pictures. As we continued to find a restaurant we looked upstairs to find a very nice restaurant/pub. It was mid morning so I opted for a more breakfast like dish with pork, Coco went with a more lunch style dish. As we were eating she surprised me with a test of sorts, and we discovered we were opposites on many fronts, but in a good way… we complement each others minuses with the others pluses. This is advantageous in that one of us will always be able to handle any situation the other has problems with. We agreed that the need for open and honest communication is needed to keep this an advantage instead of a liability. Coco suggested I ask for a glass of water for her and I did, but the waitress did not understand me, so as we noticed it was time to get to the gate she suggested I ask for the check, and reluctantly again I did, but my Chinese still was not understood, making me feel a little bad about the whole experience.
We made it through security ok, except one of the bags I was expecting to check I had to carry on so it had problems with security, they actually thought my mouthwash was alcohol… I was coming out of the bathroom when I thought I heard an announcement about our flight number, so we ended up running to the gate only to find the flight was canceled. No reason was given, only told to go back to the issuing counter to get replacement tickets on the next flight, which was through a different airline. As we were on the way to do this one of our stops resulted in a key piece of paper being lost. When we recovered our baggage and went to check it the counter demanded the missing piece of paper and said we had to purchase another ticket. This was bad, so after 30 minutes of trying to get the issue resolved it seemed something had to be done.
Not speaking enough Chinese to even begin dealing with this I back tracked our process and was given the run around at a all the counters I was sent to until the last one went to because they instructed me to go back to the original counter. At that point I was getting frustrated so I demanded an English speaking person. I got a rather young man who was very polite, so I did not rant or get mad with him, but instead told him to have his counter contact the counter they were trying to send me to so we could all be on the same page here. After a lengthy phone call and some conservation on a walkie-talkie the missing slip of paper appeared and we were able to get the missing ticket replaced and within the next 15 minuets we were on our way to Guangzhou, two hours late but going anyway.
The flight was a little over 2 hours long so I treated Coco to a movie with my noise canceling head phones. I read magazines while Coco watched Pulp Fiction, she had never seen it and it is an integral part of my life ( I wore out the VHS tape and had to get the DVD! ). I had to explain some of the things on the movie like that you can not snort heroine, why they had to use an adrenaline shot on Uma, and other parts only westerners get from the dialog and things going on in the back ground.
We arrived and I was impressed at the size and condition of Guangzhou’s airport, it was huge, at least the size if not bigger then the Poudong and Hong Kong airports and very bright and receptive. Her parents were waiting to pick us up with a family friend in his van. Of course I was laughed at for having more bags then Coco, but mine were lighter. We were dropped of at Coco’s place at Agile Garden where I visited just a few months before. It was much colder, but warmer then Shanghai, still cold. We settled our bags and then headed to dinner at her parent’s place. I was very nervous but tried my best to put on a happy face. Her parent’s place is very nice, and located along the Pearl River just across the bridge from down town Guangzhou. It is spacious and has many photos and mementos of her and their life throughout. I was introduced to her cat and given a quick tour ending in her childhood bedroom. She showed me a photo album she had covering most of her life, it is always fun to look at photo albums. The dinner was very hot and plentiful. Her dad cooked a fish, it was delicious, and I was told that was a large honor, I appreciated it very much. Coco’s mom was a typical mom giving her advice, even when she no longer wanted to hear it.
After dinner I presented her parents with the gifts I had brought, a sandalwood candle for her mother and pure sterling silver bolo tie with Navajo design to her farther. They seemed gracious but curious about the gifts, but Coco wanted to leave to make it to the flower festival on the main street along the river. On the way Coco saw many things she wanted to get, there were many flowers and interesting things so we got there and entered the fray. The best way to describe the scene is this; imaging Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street, no alcohol, and substitute flowers for beads (but no nudity or real ruckus behavior and such). Coco really wanted a tomato plant, not what you are thinking, but a lemon like citrus fruit on a stick. We then got a Mickey Mouse ears thing and a glove set that allows a couple to hold hands in a hand warmer and gloves for the other hands, too bad they are made for Chinese peoples hands, mine are large for an American.
The festival was long and there were many people there, finally it got too much for me and we headed up the main street toward the Garden Hotel and stopped in a sidewalk pub for a drink and to rest. There was a little confusion that led to a little disagreement that was later resolved. Coco had forgotten her cell phone and was unable to call her friends so we tried a local dance club they go to from time to time. I really do not like dance clubs, have never felt comfortable in them. We looked quick and did not see them, but I was talked into staying. The band was ok and played a good mix of popular songs. I was then talked into getting on the dance floor; I think the few beers helped on that. I found out Coco is a good and aggressive dancer, and we did pretty good if I say so myself, we were receiving complements from others there so that is an unbiased opinion.
After dancing we got a taxi and headed back. Coco lost her tomato tree thing and my legs were hurting a bit. She was more tired then she led on because we had to stop a few times going up the steps to her place, it is on a hill. It was a good nights sleep, even if it was freezing and there was no heater.