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Thursday - 24 May - We are at Chongqing. Up at 0600 for buffet breakfast at 0715 - luggage taken as usual from outside the cabin. A final large buffet breakfast on board. Porters come to carry luggage - they have bamboo poles and ropes across shoulders and can carry a huge, heavy load. It is raining hard but they carry their loads down the ship gangplank to the dock and then across a wet pontoon bridge and up a steep staircase that is awash with rainwater like a waterfall. It is quite dangerous for us walking, but the porters do their job. We won't see the bags until we arrive at the next hotel - in Guilin. I am winded and dizzy from the climb. There are Chinese men trying to earn a tip by holding people's arms even when told they are not needed. They persist and then act upset when they don't receive a tip. I offer one persistant fellow who has grabbed my arm 5Y, but he acts outraged, so as a result he receives nothing. Chongqing is a mountain city built on a narrow ridge between the Yangtze and Jailing Rivers. But now the city has expanded across both rivers. It is a important industrial and river port city, now separated administratively from Sichuan Province as a municipality directly subordinate to the central government. There are several new super highway type roads cut through the city, but most streets are narrow and winding. We pass many busy stores and restaurants on the way up and down and around to reach the General Stillwell Museum. It is in the very house in which he lived and had his office during World War II. The authorities have done an excellent job in restoration and furnishing it with original or replica furniture. There are many photos on the walls. But photography is not allowed. Clearly Stillwell is much revered by the Chinese. Across the street we visit another museum. the Flying Tiger museum featuring General Chenault. He is another hero for the Chinese. Here we have an interesting lecture on wartime Chongqing (Chungking) and the role of the American air force not only the fighters but also the transport flights over the "hump". Photography is allowed. Then we drive to the fine, modern airport for the flight to Guilin.
This is a smaller town - only 500,000 inhabitants. But it is a tourist stop due to the popular cruise on the Li River. After checking into the Lijiang Waterfall Hotel, 1 North Shan hu Road, we are taken to a local elementary school. Children are always fun to visit and watch. These eager youngsters crowd around making a V sign. They are anxious to mug for photos. Back to the hotel and then walk around the city area by a lake that once was part of the medieval Tang Dynasty moat. Now all the walls are gone except one short gate section that is converted into a restaurant. The huge city central square right next to the hotel turns out to be a cover for a large underground garage. The surface of the square is covered by a large world map inscribed on it. We walk across to the nearest McDonald for a milkshake and are caught out in a downpour while hurrying back to our room. The room overlooks the city square and mountains and the window is on the hotel wall that features the waterfall. Periodically, as the waterfall is turned on we cannot see out through the cascade of water falling against the window. Dinner is at 1800. This is the first 'western style' meal we have had. A small salad and one course, salmon, plus desert, ice cream. After dinner we walk alongthe lake to see the lighted bridges and pagodas. Then we return to the square to watch the lighted waterfall from outside. According to the guide books this is a very expensive, 5 star hotel and it lives up to the rating. I count 31 three or four star hotels listed in this tourist city. The square if filled with Chinese enjoying the waterfall as we do. The city has many restaurants as well.


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