A beautiful memorial park in Zhongshan
Warmup before the show
We awake in the morning, and Dale bids a tearful goodbye to her new friends. Caroline and Whitney has been almost constant companions since arrive here, and Dale is going to miss them. We exchange email addresses and promise to stay in touch. As we depart to Zhongshan, Kate is flown back to Beijing for medical treatment for her kidney stone. We hope that she can rejoin us before the end of the tour.
The bus ride to Zhongshan is uneventful, and we arrive at one of the nicest hotels we've stayed in to date. Everyone is especially excited about the beautiful swimming pool, and spends all their spare time swimming.
The theatre here is a brand new facility and is absolutely beautiful. Equipment is state of the art as well. The stage is a bit smaller than we're used to with no wings, but we quickly adust and though the audience is small, it's a good show.
Waiting in the train station
The Nightmare train to Fouyang
Our train rides up to this point have been pretty good. Other than the problems boarding with all our luggage, we've not had too many problems. This train is different. People have already booked tickets for all the lower bunks in the sleeper compartments. Normally, we have all the bunks in each compartment, and can use the space under the lower bunks, plus the floor space between the bunks for our luggage. Not this time. Getting on the train is a nightmare. People are pushing in front of us to try to get on before our luggage, and once inside the car it becomes a traffic jam of shouting adults, crying children and our luggage. After a lot of confusion, we manage to get all the luggage into the upper bunks where we're supposed to be sleeping.
Mr. Wong and Emma try their best to trade tickets around like they usually do to get everybody together. Nobody will give up their lower bunks. This leaves us in an awkward situation. We're on a train for almost 16 hours, we need to sleep, but we're stuck out in the hall with all our luggage on the beds. It's takes us almost 2 hours, but we manage to get most stuff into overhead compartments, and talk folks into letting us put stuff under the lower bunks. We finally get enough beds open for everybody to sleep in. Dale is claustrophobic and afraid of heights though, and tries one of the second tier bunks, but quickly climbs back down. She already doesn't feel good from the bumpy bus ride to the train station, and is starting to look a little green. She can't stay in the bunk. A very nice student in a compartment realizes she's having a problem and graciously trades bunks with her. We give Dale a sleeping pill, get her into the lower bunk, and she's out for the rest of the ride.
After the performance, the local media shows up for an interview.
Fouyang is a smaller city. We've noticed that we have larger audiences in these places, as the people living here don't see as many foreigners and there's not as much to do. We have a good crowd for the show, but we've still having trouble dealing with the audiences reaction to us. We want people to scream, clap and cheer so bad, but they mostly quietly sit and just watch. Dale has even tried running out to the front of the stage during certain numbers and work the crowd with the help of the announcer, but usually fails and ends up coming backstage without getting much response. It's not that the audience is enjoying the show any less than any other, but it's still hard for us to deal with the lack of an enthusiastic response.
During our tribute to "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", a few of the dancers will take run out into the audience with candy for the children. This usually gets us our biggest response of the show as pandemonium ensues with the children rushing towards the front of the theatre tring to be sure they get a piece. At this performance, the lighting technician turns the house lights on so the crowd and see the dancers in the audience, but this backfires! Half the audience figures that since the lights are on, the show must be over, so they get up and start leaving! The announcer has to rush out and tell everybody to sit back down to keep them from going home! So very weird!
We board a bus to Dongying City in Shandong Province for a 9:00 PM performance. The bus ride should have been only 5 or 6 hours, but traffic and detours that take us down bumpy dirt roads stretch it out to closer to 8 hours. We stop at a truck stop for lunch. Everybody is happy for the chance to stretch their legs outside the bus, but when we see the food on offer there, well, ugh. We been pretty happy with most of the food we've encountered during the trip. OK, maybe the stewed turtle was pushing it a bit, but this isn't too great. Everybody leaves most of what they've received on their plates and heads for the junk food counter next door. Even our guides aren't eating any of this! I can't wonder what the Chinese people serving the food must think of us for being so wasteful.
During many of our train and bus rides, we see these cooling towers scattered about. William on the train had explained to us earlier though that China has great coal resources, and most of the electricity generated in China uses coal. The cooling towers are part of the generation. This also explains the smoky haze seen around these generating plants.