This should have been a simple day. It's amazing how even things can just go totally awry though. We awake at 5:30 AM to board the bus to Beijing at 6:00. The idea is to get a good start on the day. We can arrive in Beijing around noon, have a nice lunch, get a nap and be fresh for our performance at 8:00.
We get all our luggage into the lobby. We look at the bus. The bus company has sent the wrong bus. It's too small. We try to cram as much luggage as possible into the luggage compartments, and then stack the rest on the rear seats, but there's just too much and there won't be enough seats for everybody. A few phone calls are made and the bus company says they'll send another bus that's the proper size. We unload the first bus and most of us fall asleep on the floor of the hotel lobby, since we've already checked out of our rooms. After about an hour and a half, the replacement bus arrives. It's wrong too. It's a sleeper bus with bunk cots and no seats.
The ride to Beijing should have been only 6 hours, but we enter a desolate looking area with mud flats on both sides of the road, small muddy villages sticking up out of the mud and large sections of the road has been washed out due to a recent storm. The road has been patched by filling the missing sections with bricks, which are then covered in dirt. The bus lurches and bounces like crazy as it crawls along like a snail over this muddy mess. The driver is trying to not to run over workers that are still shoveling mud out of road while dodging trucks coming from the other direction at the same time. Apparently there's been a small tsunami, and being close to the coast, this area was pretty devistated.
Just outside of Beijing, we stop again at a rest area and change busses. Finally, a nice bus with air conditioning and room for most of the luggage underneath! We wish we had this bus from the start. It's late, we're all pretty miserable at this point, and we've a show in less than 3 hours. So much for a simple bus ride and time to rest in the afternoon.
"Crouching Tiger" with the appropriate backdrop!
We finally arrive at the Beijing Xiedao Natural Resort where we will be staying until we depart back to the United States. It's difficult to describe this place, but it is stunning and I feel most appropriate to cap off our journey here in China. We have been assigned two houses in a centuries-old Chinese village that's been converted into an amazing resort. In the traditional Chinese style, there's a wall with a main gate to each house, which opens into a central courtyard. Each house is two stories, with every two bedrooms sharing a bath. It's simply beautiful. Perhaps we must experience bad situations to help us appreciate the good things more. I hope the dancers can appreciate the surroundings that we're in, especially considering what the rest of the day has been like.
With very little time to sit and reflect on the significance of where we are, we have to grab a quick supper and it's show time! We're performing outside, and the stage has been built into one of the traditional structures, with seating in front with rows of booths serving food on both sides, and traditional red Chinese lanterns hanging everywhere. This makes for a stunning backdrop when we perform our selection from "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", especially when you consider that this place was probably built around the same time period the film takes place in. Kate rejoins us just before the show. She's still a little weak from having several medical procedures to remove her kidney stone, but she wants to dance so bad she can hardly stand it and performs several of the less strenuous numbers.