24 October – City Walls and School Children 

The weather is warm but continues to be very hazy so the views are minimal. We occupy ourselves with eating ridiculous amounts of wonderful food, having tea, listening to more lectures and generally being rather indolent.
Upon our arrival in Jingzhou a few school children are brought on board to give a little performance. They are quite young, six to maybe as old as nine or ten. Of course cute. They dance, sing, smile shyly, eat treats, say a few rehearsed words, and set out a donations box. Many of us have brought gifts such as pens and school supplies from home countries. One woman donates a huge pile of the types of large cheap plastic drinking cups that one gets at amusement parks and the like. No one knows how this is supposed to be useful or why she thinks these children would want them. Viking assists financially with a couple of schools in poorer rural communities. Definition of a small rural community here seems to be some place of only three or four million inhabitants. Quite often Viking passengers go to the schools to visit the children but as it is getting later in the day it has been decided it would be better for the children to come to us. From what I heard about the mass noisy visits to the schools, this seems to be a wonderful alternative.

The children’s visit is immediately followed by most of us disembarking for a tour to the ancient city walls. A short bus ride through the city. More high rises. Then a walk through a large pretty park, over a humped bridge, onto a little people-carrying extended golf cart type of transport to a massive gate with a temple building above. Free time to scamper around and take pictures. Night falls, the lights come on and the scene is magical. More pictures. However the walk back to the bus parking area is a bit tricky in the dark as the park and bridge are not lit. Not everyone is too impressed. Footing was a bit tricky and some of the less sure footed really struggle. Dad wisely elected not to come on this excursion 

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