On Friday evening October 14, 2016, I leave for Guangzhou with Air France from Schiphol Airport. The flight goes via Charles de Gaulle Paris. My husband Pieter and the cat, Leila, will not travel with me on this trip to a, for me, totally new destination.
I have cooked some meals in advance and put them in the fridge; but they will not cover the 18 days during which Pieter will be on his own. At the Schiphol airport, Pieter and I were a bit emotional when hugging each other goodbye. This year, I have already been away a lot; I have travelled to Sweden for work, and family matters took a lot of our time as well. A friend will have a major heart operation next week. I phone him to wish him luck before boarding the plane. He shouts out: "Oh, are you calling me for that??? Haha...what a softy you are! You should not be calling people for these types of small interventions at the hospital...it will only take 8 hours. It is like travelling by plane...I will be home soon!". What a hero he is!
The visa for entering China cost me some extra money – in order to reduce the time pressure from my travels to Sweden, I had to obtain the help of a special bureau. In any case, they took care of all the paperwork and approvals; and delivered the visa in time at the door.
Christine had sent out a list with practical information as to what to wear and take with us to China. It promised to be of great benefit during the whole trip. The list, for example, stated: “bring Nescafe coffee bags”.
The persons travelling in our group will be: Bente, Carl, Christine, Stephen and Marion, Ting-Tiang and Wai Lan (joining us 3 days later in Quanzhou), Truke, the guides, drivers and myself.
The program for this trip looks overwhelming. We will visit cities, towns and villages, museums and kilns in South-East China from October 18 to November 1, 2016. The focus will be on those places which played an important role in the porcelain trade, such as Guangzhou, Foshan, Quanzhou, Dehua, Fuzhou, Jingdezhen, Jingken, Yaoli, Hangzhou. With the group, I will also be travelling to famous kilns in Southeast China and well-known museums, in the Guangdong, Fujian, Jangxi, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. During the last three and a half days I will be on my own, in Shanghai and Suzhou.
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