This was the day of my first although shorter speech and I admit I woke up a bit nervous.
I had a very lovely new dress to wear to help build up my courage. At 68 you would think I could stop worrying about lovely new clothes.
We were awake early and went to breakfast the second they opened. Breakfast is included in our hotel cost so we have not been searching for a different place. The breakfast here has been quite good. I had a large plate of fresh fruit, a bowl of pumpkin forage and I tried a brown sugar steamed bun but I did not like it half as much as the sweet potato one.
We were picked up at about 9:45 by Steven and our same, very sweet, driver. We were loaded down with little gifts including two books from my children’s print braille book collection. One of the books I brought was Make Way for Ducklings because it is about Boston.
When we pulled up to the school, there was a colorful lit sign that said welcome Gayle Yarnall in Chinese and English. Now I was really nervous. Neal was being so sweet and supportive.
We met with the school president and a blind English teacher who was in the first group of blind students to go to the local university, taking part in regular classes. I think this was in 2002. Of course we talked about books.
Earlier I had asked Steven about a classic Chinese novel I read called Dream Of The Red Chamber. I think he could not believe I knew this book and told me it was one of the four Chinese classics. I knew this as well but I could not remember the other titles. He briefly told me the other stories. I love bonding across the world through books.
Thanks Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library for so enriching my life. Also thanks to all the writers throughout the years who help us all connect with one another.
I am hoping I have made some new friends. Neal and I sure see a special side of the world when we travel. We are so blessed.
I am sorry if I am making these entries too long. Blame it on coffee.
My speech actually turned out to be great fun. I had downloaded the speech from MS Word to my Victor stream and listened to it through one headphone. I read a few sentences and then Stephen translated. I think it went well. There was laughter where it should have been and clapping when people were especially touched. The audience mostly children. The entire school, teachers and staff and all were there. Some good questions were asked. I thought I might get teary eyed a couple of times but I stayed in control at least of myself.
Then it was time for a school tour and a lovely lunch. Saying good bye to Stephen was not easy. I don’t think it was easy for him either. Our driver took us back to the hotel.
We asked for a late check out and they said we could stay on Tuesday until 2:00 pm. This was better than expected.
It was nap time and we slept another two hours. I think jet lag is really trying to get us.
In the late afternoon we headed out kind of aimlessly. We walked to the tourist bureau and got some maps and ideas. We seem to just like to keep walking. We walked all the way to the harbor thinking we might take a boat ride but changed our mind and headed back to Nanjing road and all the night life. We went to the Peace Hotel thinking we would listen to jazz. The cover charge was high but it started at seven so we thought we would get our money’s worth and get there early. We had a light supper and suddenly faded. We walked back to our hotel.
Then we had the most fun. We started exploring the hotel and walking up stair cases and down hallways and poking in unlocked doors.
This place is made up of several buildings and additions built over the last 150 years. There are a few rooms like ours with plaques on them. Our placque says Marconi slept here and the date. We found the US Grant room and the Einstein room and the Charlie Chaplin room. He stayed here twice. The second time was on his honey moon with Paulette Goddard. We found fancy ballrooms. What do you think the disinfection room is? This was so much fun. We hardly saw any other people and we even got lots of steps.
We ended our day and our adventure with a night cap in the bar. We now have a favorite server.
It will be hard to leave this hotel.