Woke up when it got light but lay there for a while. Got up an walked around the boat – watched as several other boats set sail (so to speak). When they cast off, they held the boat steady in the current and let the nose of the boat get pushed downstream. A very silent departure, but with the aid of the current the boat seems to be idling along.
Breakfast was a pretty typical buffet, with fried eggs, toast, and a spread of sausages, vegetables, etc., etc. We had 2 tables by the window and it was comfortable and left me feeling full. After breakfast, Jennie tried to teach us tai chi – I learned a bit of background and had a good time trying to duplicate the fluid, balanced moves the Jennie seemed to do so effortlessly. I think the whole group took part and it reminded me of what a great group this has been.
We had a morning briefing at 11 AM on the river, the dam, and events to come, then lunch (again buffet style). Early afternoon was taken up with culling through Marlena's pictures while a bunch of the group played mah jong. Interestingly, there was an electronic mah jong table that automatically shuffled and dealt the tiles – quite an invention, really.
We motored downstream until about 3:30, when they moored the boat and we went ashore to visit the City of the Dead. A lot of steps (over 700?) led up from the river to the temple complex. The local guide was really quite good, providing a lot of colour commentary and filling us in using very good English. A lot of her narrative covered tests given to prove whether a person was a good man (or woman), how to ensure that your spouse would rejoin you in the next life, etc., etc. At one point we walked past a wall inlaid with a large Chinese character – apparently it was “foo” which I think she said means “happiness”.
The tour was full of little tests, including one where you stood on a round rock on one foot while reading a piece of script – if you kept your balance it meant you were a good man. Another spot had a granite hemisphere in a circular track, and to prove his love a husband was supposed to make the hemisphere travel around the circle once and then balance it on top of a rock spike in the middle (I got the hemisphere around the track but couldn't figure out how to get it on top, then a little Chinese guy showed us how to do it). There was a lot of commentary on Buddhism and a few gift shops in the temple, but it started to rain hard so we headed down the stairs and back to the boat. The boat people met us at the top of the stairs at the dock with umbrellas and served us tea when we got back to the boat.
We showered ad it was supper time. When we got to the dining room, we were introduced to the captain of the boat (the first night was the welcoming dinner) and then we were handed a glass of sweet sparkling wine. Once everyone was seated, the captain made a short speech - which took quite a while because it was translated into English, German, and French - and then we toasted. Dinner was sumptuous, if that means there was a lot of food. The fish was good but extremely bony and eating the chicken was also a bit challenging due to the way it was chopped, but the appetizers were quite good and there seemed to be something for everyone on the plates.
Tavis and DJ ore the jackets that they had tailored in Beijing to dinner – board shorts and sandals completed the outfit. It turned out that the boat was running a fashion show later in the evening so the two of them got volunteered to participate. The entertainment began with displays of various Chinese clothing styles dating back hundreds of years, culminating in modern fashions. Tavis and DJ were last, but made a pretty good impression, though I don't think either of them had ever modeled before.
Linda was suffering from a cold so we packed it in as soon as the show was over, with the last image one of Kelly dancing with Aidan – quite a pairing, really. Aiden is an older Newfie who teaches English in Quebec, and Kelly is a young, gorgeous, very smart female engineer from Michigan. I guess deep down, both of them just want to have fun.