By Norman Bell
We departed Toledo for Detroit Metro Airport on the morning of May 18, 2011. However, our flight from Detroit to Hong Kong China didn’t depart until 3:30pm. We arrived in Hong Kong 16 hours later. China is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Sixteen hours in an aircraft requires you to get out of your seat and walk the aisle for your blood to circulate in attempt to prevent a blood clot… at this point we have no problem.
Upon our arrival in Hong Kong we were presented with two large floral bouquet of roses from Yuan Xiaohong who has adopted us “mama/ papa” (her parents). We were not in Hong Kong for a long period of time but taken almost immediately to a tram that would transport all of us to a ferry boat that would deliver us to Shenzhen, China.
When we arrived in Shenzhen, we were welcomed by a very warm and cheerful host gathering. After the welcome by our hosts, we were invited to attend a birthday party that was being given by Yuan who is one of the investors in and chairman of the board of the Dashing Pacific group. We were shown our rooms, with an opportunity to freshen up and return to the lobby for the party.
Once we were all accounted for, we were directed to the location of the birthday party. During the party there were toasts being offered by Toledo Mayor Mike Bell and his delegation as well as our hosts. The beverages and food were delicious and plentiful, the food was served family style, on a glass turntable.
Different types of food were placed on the table as other food was taken off, but giving you enough time to consume the dishes that you enjoyed. In almost every encounter as we begin to converse about China, the question that always surfaces: how did you like the food? What was it like?
Ora enjoyed the spinach primarily among the vegetables and some of the meat. I usually enjoy most things. I like experiencing new different foods of the culture I am exposed to. Ora and I agreed that the food was beautifully presented, fresh, colorful, with a variety of different tastes and textures (mostly steamed). The day following the birthday party, about noon, Ora and I were taken for our tour of the city of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province.
Mayor Bell and his delegation met with officials of Shenzhen High Tech Industry Park and visited with management agencies and enterprises. We had the opportunity to visit the ethnic cultural village of Splendid China. This was enjoyable and exciting afternoon. We were informed by our guide (the daughter of Yuan) that the old zone development of Shenzhen included modules of each zone, housing, people and living conditions.
Our tour was concluded with a theater performance, which was colorful and breathtaking included real birds and other animals on stage. We returned to the hotel and prepared for the wedding. Let us explain… during our first meeting with the Dashing Pacific investors, we were extended an invitation to attend the wedding of Jimmy, the son of Wu King Hung, one of the investors. We did accept the invitation and made the commitment to attend. We were delighted to honor our pledge. The wedding was very different from ours, in style and order of service. We were surprised that our mayor was asked to perform the ceremony. He did well, considering it was a surprise to him also.
Far too soon it was time to depart Shenzhen and head to Beijing, by air. The amount of travel time was three hours. Upon our arrival to Beijing, we traveled in a modern and very comfortable bus to visit The Great Wall Of China. Our bus host introduced herself as Nancy Huxi. The bus was soon parked and we were on our way to the Great Wall Of China. We were approached by many vendors who were available to sell their merchandise. Once we arrived at the top of the wall it was joy to behold. Everyone marveled at the beauty and artistic construction.
Upon leaving the wall we boarded our bus and traveled to the Yuyang hotel to check in, and prepare for dinner. The next day we observed the place where Palace Museum (purple forbidden city) and had lunch in Tiananmen Square and did some shopping. Later we enjoyed our final dinner and met many officials from other areas of Beijing who came with gifts and other forms of recognition for our mayor and his delegation and we also received some special items
On Tuesday May 24, we departed from Beijing for the USA. Of course we enjoyed the journey. The beauty, warmth of the people, and the culture we will long remember. Yes! But we will admit that we’re unable to master the use of the chopsticks…
Norman and Ora Bell, retired after many years of service to the Toledo community, are the parents of former Mayor Mike Bell.