The rest was worth the ordeal. Especially as a springboard to Nanjing and its 2000-year-old urban landscape with the pervasive greenery and down to earth splendor that had drawn me there in the first place. And its connection to the Three Kingdoms era - it was the capital of Eastern Wu.
We had a fun group of thirty, a Friends 'n Family subgroup of ten, upscale hotel accommodations, and an excellent guide. Eric kept us informed, entertained, hydrated, on schedule, and as happy as possible within the constraints of the tour - including the obligatory shopping showrooms relegating disinterested folk to a long game of Salesperson Avoidance Shuffle. They do keep the trip cost down, and enough people found them productive. Even so, fndragon wondered when we would get the time share pitch.
Hotel breakfasts were excellent, as were our personalized meals in Nanjing - local specialties recommended for our tastes. Most everywhere else was a limited buffet able to efficiently handle large groups with nebulous time of arrival - and a crapshoot depending on the variety of non-meat available. I had tasty vegetables and bean curd dishes, some specially requested by Eric. I also had a Build Your Own Stir Fry inedibly strewn with meat nuggets by a grill from the innermost circle of cross-contamination hell. At least that place had good cookies.
I got many great pictures, a few small purchases, and a better understanding of China's industrialization and urban culture, including honest talk about its current challenges. I went through the Three Gorges Dam locks during a cruise ship beer bash. I learned to play mahjong with helpful onlookers backseating. I saw an acrobatics show with muscle men and motorbikes, a chamber performance of opera music, and a sex museum. I have a lot to write up and a fragmented dump of trip notes to sort out in the process. Until next time, yo.