We depart for Shanghai in the mid-afternoon, and we're quite anxious and
nervous. Here is where we part with Lydia, who has been an amazing host and
"China mom" to us, and we really aren't sure how we'll function without her.
We're exhausted and disoriented, so the idea of navigating Shanghai in this
state alone is intimidating.
At the train station, Lydia tries to find someone who could assist with our
luggage (we're carrying a lot by this point - our tea friends were most generous
during our visits!), but the station is a zoo. While we're waiting at the gate
for our train, looking like scared kittens, Lydia asks a group of people in
front of us in line where we might at least find a luggage cart, or someone to
tell us when our stop is. One of the passengers speaks English - and I'll be
honest, it took Cynthia and I a good moment or two for that to register in our
tired little brains! - and he offers to just allow his friends to help. This is
moments before boarding begins and an entire platform of people rushes through
the gate. We can barely register what's going on, but we hug our Lydia goodbye
with many tears and head to our train.
Ahead of us, three complete strangers are carrying all of our worldly
belongings; the platform is very long and we have no real idea where we're
going, but they keep turning around to make sure we're ok. They help us load up
and find our seats - they're even sitting right by us - and explain which stop
we'll be getting off at. One notices that Cynthia is sitting very upright in her
seat, and he reaches across to push the 'recline' button for her. I still really
can't believe all of this is happening. The good fortune of meeting these
incredibly kind people weighs heavily on our weary heads, and we hold back more
tears as best as we can.
When we arrive in Shanghai, they help us once more by finding a cabbie, loading
our gear, and telling the driver where we need to go. Such incredible kindness...
when we needed it desperately, humanity didn't let us down. We thought it must
be karma for trying all the local cuisines with an open mind. If any of you have
friends in Shanghai, and they tell you about helping some very lost and
disoriented foreign tea ladies, be sure to thank them again for us!
Emotionally spent, we spend the afternoon in our comfy, fresh hotel along the
river (thanks, Boss!), across from Shanghai's famous walkable shopping street,
the Bund, and crash for hours.
The next morning, a bit fresher faced, we venture out for a short walk before
heading to the airport. We're staying right near the Shanghai aquarium and
iconic Pearl Tower (the structure you see in photos with the giant spheres).
From there, we explored near the Bund scenic passageway (a tunnel which runs
right under the water, all the way to the other side), as well as a huge upscale
shopping complex for some final gifts to bring home to friends. A relaxing lunch
and then we're off to the airport for a long fight home (14 hours).
I made a few more videos for you during the flight - they're almost ready for
posting, and there's more to come. Cynthia probably took around 2,000 pictures,
and I have oodles of video, so watch for "continuing coverage" (for lack of a
more clever phrase at the moment). We would also love to hear from you, our
customers and friends: questions, comments, need for further details. We were
incredibly happy to share all of this with you; it meant the world to us to know
so many of you here at home waiting for news and photos. Thanks for traveling
along, friends! We hope to bring you more adventures from the tea fields in the