Quite a sad day, but also busy, getting final packing done, washing done, and actually dry, floors cleaned etc.
Frankle had been messaging me during the day. He has meetings all day, for some special guests in the educational field, and then dinner. Then later this evening we will leave for the airport. He is a busy, busy guy, with a full day, and then off to the airport, on his way to meet with one of his business partners in Guangzhou. I have no doubt there will be a lot of screen time for these two guys, and precious little sleep!
I met Gary and Denise at the front gate of the college, and then we went to the kindy to get Qianyu. This will probably be my last visit to the kindy, as by the time I return she will be in school! Then back to the college to load up my luggage, as we will go for dinner, and then meet up with Frankle, for them to head home, and me to go to the airport.
We managed to squeeze all the luggage in, only just, but that is all we need!!
And then we went way out Xijiang Road to another place I would never have found. A big open area, where they do not have wait staff, you go to the counter to place your order, you go and help yourself to dishes, spoons and chopsticks, and also to hot tea or water. Different place. Very simple, no frills, but the food was great.
We had a big bowl of soup, with lots of vegetables, a dish of baked rice, that I enjoy, but not so much the meal that was in it. I think it was preserved pork, which always seems to taste a little off to me. And the main attraction was roast pork ribs glazed with honey. The ribs came in one big piece, which Gary had to try and cut apart. And the rack of ribs seemed to be the whole ribs, so we all looked a little like cavemen, munching away on our bones, but it was really delicious.
Bitter sweet times, as I know this is the last meal to enjoy with these good friends, but I will be back, later in the year if everything goes to plan.
Frankle messaged us to say he was ready to leave, quite a lot earlier than he had expected, so we went back down Xijiang Road, and found where he was parked. We took my luggage out of Gary's car, and transferred it to Frankle's car, then hugs all round, and off we went.
I'd had messages from Frankle during the week, mentioning a family situation, but not saying any more than that. His grandmother passed away last Saturday, after a long life of illness, which had dogged her ever since the Cultural Revolution. At least now she is at peace.
I love spending extended time with Frankle, we talk about all sorts of things. He wanted to know what it is I like so much about life in China. Not so easy to answer really, but - the people, the simple lifestyle, the cost of living, and the very interesting cultural knowledge that I can learn. Just a part of it, but very hard to put into concrete words. I guess it is more a feeling, and a sense of being at home!
We did not take long to get to the airport. No traffic delays tonight. One thing I noticed tonight is that when anyone drives out of Zhaoqing, they almost always use their GPS, as the roads change so often, and nearly every time you leave the city, a new superhighway/expressway opened up. And of course the GPS takes into account the traffic conditions too, so that you can take the most efficient route.
I think it was around 10.30pm when we got to the airport. Frankle came in with me, and we firstly found a luggage trolley, then the departure hall, and then we found where I would be checking in. He was quite convinced that my suitcase would be overweight, but I had been shrugging it off, saying that if I have to pay excess baggage, so be it!
He hung around for an hour or so, and then left to go to his mate's house. He says that once I know when I am returning, to let him know, and his Dad will find me an apartment to rent, and will send me photos so I can make a choice.
More big hugs, and then he left. Sad to see his retreating back, but glad to know that I will be returning.
Check in was not until 00.10am, so I still had quite a wait, but time does pass, even if it seems not that way. I had managed to be at the front of the queue,, or where I presumed that gate would open, and maybe twenty or so people had also arrived, but when the girl in charge of checking in opened the gate, she opened the opposite end to where I was stood. Not a happy camper at that stage, tired and getting cranky!!
But I did make the check in counter eventually. And yes, my case was about 2kg overweight. The girl asked if there was anything I could take out, to fix the problem. So I removed my new red coat, to carry on with me. Makes no sense, as it is still on the plane, and there was no issue with that!!
Getting through security was not a problem, except for all my electronic gadgetry in my laptop bag, which I had to empty and put back through the x-ray machine! And of course, my titanium hip made the scanner bing, but that was also quite OK, when they realized what it was.