China days 4&5

Chong Qing, a city with 31 million people… And the nicest holiday inn I think I’ve ever stayed.  Checked into the hotel room and immediately went down the street to the nearest hot pot restaurant.  Nobody spoke a lick of English, so our conductor Jason went to someone else’s table and pointed to show that we would have the same.  It was the best hot pot I’ve ever had, and some of the spiciest.  This was my first attempt at trying non traditional foods as well, as we boiled and ate fish heads!  It was actually quite good.  Didn’t have the balls to eat the eye, however.  Afterwards, we walked around the city, went into what we thought was a park, but turned out to be a private apartment complex.  Oops.

The venue this night was huge and elaborate, and had some of the nicest equipment ever, including $50k worth of Adams timpani.  What a joy to play!  The only downside is, now I’ve gone from three drums to two to four, so adjusting for each night is a little interesting.  The other thing about these drums it that they were Dresden style pedals, which I have not played on since about 2004.  The method of raising and lowering pitch on these is reversed, so you can imagine how fun it was to try and do that on the fly.  However, once I got the hang of it again, playing on those drums was absolutely amazing.  And probably spoiled me.  At the end of the concert, we played jingle bells with a Chinese all girl children’s chorus.  They sounded great, and I got to play a little drumset as well!

After the concert, the hosts and some dignitaries threw a party for us, with a buffet line that took some people literally five minutes to videotape walking around.  It had pretty much every kind of food imaginable.

So, on Christmas morning, I spent a lot of time sleeping on a plane on the way to Xining.  Once we arrived we had lunch and took a three hour walk around the city.  Right by our hotel was a park that led to a walkway alongside a river, that eventually led us into the city.  The park was awesome (pictures to come), but the city by it was a little run down.  The downtown area, however, was pretty cool and quite busy for Christmas day. We went into a tea shop and tried some more free samples, at some point I’m going to have to buy something…

I was asleep by 8.

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