Trip Start Dec 24, 2010
Trip End Jan 06, 2011

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Where I stayed
Teckon Continenial Hotel Ningbo
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of China  , Zhejiang,
Saturday, January 1, 2011

The alarm goes off at 4:30am... there's something very wrong about this situation: it's New Years Day and we have to get on yet another plane for our 6th city and 7th performance in 7 days! In fact it's so wrong that Bill Welsh has to shake me awake multiple times before I realize it's time to get up. As the bus arrives at the airport, we hurry to unload... while "enjoying" our breakfast of "pure" milk in a bag, sausage on a bun, banana and water. On the plane, the flight attendants offer chicken buns, while I endure sinus pressure during takeoff and landing.

Because of our previous experience in Shanghai, I am hoping for warmer weather south of there- no such luck! The cold front has pushed farther south, so the highs continue to be near freezing even in Ningbo. The bus ride to our hotel does provide entertainment: busy holiday markets; roadside artwork; traffic "merging" in construction areas. In fact, our hotel is in the middle of some major roadwork- so the noise can be heard in our rooms.

After lunch I join trombonist Jon Brummel and violinist Eddie Fong in attempting to get a taxi into downtown... it took a awhile to find one, even with a hotel employee trying to flag one down for us! At last we get in a taxi- only to get the response "I don't know where that is" despite being shown a map and directions. After we got back out, the hotel employee opines that the driver just doesn't want to drive downtown (sheesh!). So we change plans and decide to walk around the area- within a half mile I'm wishing I had my cap and more layers as it's pretty cold. Our adventures include a river walk complete with picturesque pagoda, bridges, side streets and an open market (not one of the tourist kinds) with recognizable animal parts and fresh produce- and no refrigeration. Jon is so busy taking photos of everything that the locals start to look at us much like we look at tourists in the US when they are taking pictures of a parking lot.

The bus trip to the performance was (no surprise) cold along with the theater hallways and (yes surprise) stage. We find drafty doors left open, (literally) rotten risers, and a sub-optimal piano on stage. Not only that, but our violin soloist is too sick to perform... so we plan an abbreviated program. After a brief rehearsal, I get good advice from Jon before we go on stage... where we have many sick orchestra members (the concertmaster and me included) doing their best to perform under adversity. I notice that the tempos seem to be faster than usual, but since our conductor Gabriel Sakakeeny is even more sick than many of us, it is no surprise! In addition to all this, principal trumpet Doug Morton has his own challenge: wrestling with a stagehand over his off-stage solo in the Pines of Rome's 2nd movement, he has to run 20 feet to reopen the door and get back in time to make his sensitive entrance! Afterward, many of us reflect on the difference between this evening's sub-par concert experience compared to last night's excellent Qingdao experience.

Finally, I get back to the hotel and take allergy medicine along with melatonin to help with this evening's sleep-a-thon.
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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