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Traveling with Gary in Jingdezhen

By teamkrejados (blog.chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2014-08-07 17:28

Our destination was Jingdezhen (pronounced 'jing duh jen), known as the porcelain capital of China. It is barely more than a town and rather on the mean side, I'd say. Just because it has the lowly status of a sub-prefecture doesn't mean people there don't enjoy all the trappings city dwellers do, specifically: driving.

The roads were choked! You would think I should be used to traffic nightmares but, compared to Jingdezhen traffic, Wuhan's is civilized. Here the roads are only two-lane. Everyone fights for position. Nobody is afraid to veer into the oncoming lane to get ahead. Two-wheeled transport commandeers the sidewalk. They imperiously sound their horns, demanding pedestrians get out of their way. One would think pedestrians could safely claim half of the walkway, leaving scooters the other half but it seems that scooter traffic is also two-way and pedestrians have no choice but to inch along, hugging the walls.

We stayed in a nice hotel, a chain that has branches all over China. There was a bit of trouble because I was carrying an expired passport for identification purposes. The clerk could not register me as a guest without proper documentation. We explained that my current passport was with the authorities for visa renewal. Could we not simply register using Gary's name? After admonishing me for traveling without proper documentation, the clerk assigned our room.

Chain hotels are not so unusual over here, but this one will get my business from now on because of its comfortable beds. I felt a little bit like Baby Bear, sleeping in this bed that was neither too hard nor too soft. Traditionally, beds in China are not much more than a thin pad over a board. Even my bed, if not for the two foam pads I bought for it would be too rigid. But this bed! I could have stayed in that town, in that hotel just for the bed. Even Gary exclaimed how comfortable the beds were.

Lounging around was not our purpose, and neither was sightseeing. That's a good thing: there wasn't much to see. Our room faced a canal, its level low, water dispiritedly flowing westward. Across the canal was a pagoda. Later we found that pagoda had just been built and was not yet complete: no tours possible. The street leading to the pagoda sold mostly clothes. No eclectic little shops or funky restaurants. No street food. Rather dismaying, all in all.

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