Julie's friend was going back to Foshan this morning, so Julie was going to take her to the bus at 11am and then come back to collect me for our walk about. I want to show her what I have discovered about the old city wall.
We met at the back gate at around midday, and headed up to the western end of the old wall. The road that used to cut through the old section of the city is currently closed, while work is completed to renovate the wall. But we only needed to walk up to the wall, and there is a walkway up onto the top of the wall. It is still just as beautiful as a few weeks ago, although a lot of the scaffolding is now gone, so that is progress!!
We had a lovely time, wandering along and chatting. She is a lovely girl, and she is very lucky to have very little residual damage from the accident when she was in first year at college, which could have easily cost her her life. She said that she has acupuncture monthly, to keep lower back pain at bay, and she has a slight issue with her balance, but otherwise she is completely healed.
I found out today that she no longer works in Foshan, but has returned to her hometown of Liuzhou, to work in a hospital there. She has had good experience I suppose in Foshan, and now is the time to go home again. She certainly enjoys being back close to her family, including her married brother, and her grandmother.
We started our walk at the centre of the western end of the wall, headed north, then along the northern boundary, and back down the eastern end, before going down and into the old city, and along Grass Shoes Street, which is really set up to showcase the history of the very oldest part of Zhaoqing, or Duanzhou as it was then known.
By the time we got back to Renmin Road, we were both hungry, so we got a bus into the city, and went to get something to eat at a restaurant that I believed was a Chongqing restaurant, but I was corrected - it seems the food is Chengdu traditional fare!!
We walked in, and who did we see at a table, but Julie's Mum. Her Dad was at the counter about to order their lunch. They chose to spend the day on their own, and we found them, without even trying!!
After lunch, Julie and I went over the road to Starbucks. I did not so much want a coffee, but I needed to sit for a while.
On our way past Walmart, we ran into Bing, who is one of the main cooks at Spango Pizza. She invited us to visit her house, and I said that I would later, maybe even today, but not right away. I do want to catch up with her daughter Coco, who I met years ago, not long after their family had returned from nine years living in Bendigo.
When we got to Starbucks, Julie did not want anything at all, so I stood in the queue, and sent her to secure us a table. While I was waiting for my cafe mocha to be made, a young woman came up and started talking to me. She asked if she could sit with us, and at that stage I could see no reason why not, so invited her to join us.
In hindsight my judgement was off I believe. She insisted on carrying my cup to the table where Julie was sitting, but that is not altogether unusual here. Then when I took the first sip of my hot drink, and of course it was hot, she wanted to go and get cold water for me. No, I insisted. I definitely got the impression that she was on the lookout for a 'wealthy' foreigner to latch onto, and probably not for the most altruistic of purposes, in fact most likely very self serving. I could see that Julie was quite uncomfortable too.
The girl tried to tell us that she had lived half of her life in New Zealand, and had recently returned to Zhaoqing, and was looking for work. But her level of English made that sound distinctly unlikely. She could hardly speak any English, and could not understand much of what I said to her. If she went to school in New Zealand, I am sure she would have had much better language skills!
Julie and I decided we would message Bing, and go to visit her. Apart from visiting Bing, it was a good excuse to get away from this rather strange and disconcerting young woman. She exchanged wechat contact with Julie, but when she asked to connect with me, I told her my phone had no power. We happily made our escape, both feeling very glad to be away from her.
We walked up the road, and eventually I called Bing, to get precise directions to her house. I got her to speak to Julie, as even though her English is good, her Cantonese makes it easier for her. We walked up to the intersection with Gongnong Lu, and waited for her there. Neither of us could believe our eyes, when the girl we had thought we'd escaped, was there with us. She must have followed us. Anyway, we made it very clear that she could not come with us, and the complex where Bing lives is very secure, and no-one can get in, without a card to access the gates, the door to the building, and even the lift, and that's before you even get to the door or your apartment.
We stopped at Bing's relatively new house, until it was time for her to return to work, when we went downstairs, and after being shown through the grounds and the gardens, we walked to work with her. She sat us down at Spango's, and we had some water, but it was way too early for dinner for us, so we went for a walk in Paifang Square. There was going to be some huge performance that night, for the new year.
Julie and I found a bench to sit on, and watched people, and children relaxing and wandering around, while we chatted. After some time, she needed a toilet break, so I waited there, and she went over to Star Lake Mall. When she got back, she told me that the girl was still sitting in Starbuck's! At least I'm glad she didn't see Julie, or myself, again.
Eventually, it was getting rather cold, so we decided to walk up town to get something for dinner. We went all the way up to Tianning Nanlu, to the little jiaozi (dumpling) shop that I love so much. And as it was so very expensive, I insisted on paying the 8rmb for our two lots of dumplings!! Then we went back up the street, and I had my favouritew pudding treat of black sesame paste dumplings, served with sago cooked in coconut milk. Delicious, and just the sort of dinner I needed.
From there, we just got a bus back to the college area. We were both tired, and although it was new year's eve, we were home, me at the medical college, and Julie at the hotel, before 9pm!
But we had done a lot of walking that day, and also the day before. That is my excuse anyway, and I am sticking to it!!