July 21 – We keft for Guilin from Kunming while Grandparents and Pei returned to Beijing. Guilin was about 1 hr’s flight east of Kunming. There, we were to visit Dad’s cousin and his family for the first time. Landed at around 3:30 pm and to our surprise, there was a girl with my name on a placard waiting for us just as the airplane door opened. She escorted us to the VIP waiting area where my cousin was waiting for us – we avoided all the crowd. While we sat there, our luggage was brought to us. Made us felt first-class. Cousin was the 2nd of 3 sons of my uncle (Dad’s cousin). He actually drove to the airport in his mini-van with his son and older brother’s son. Mini-van was practically new, fully loaded and was great.
That night we had dinner with our uncle and his 2 older sons’ families. The youngest one was out of town. This Uncle is one of Dad’s last remaining relatives. He was my grandfather’s brother’s son – so Dad’s first cousin. He is about 5 years older than Dad. He was suppose to have escaped to Guyana with Dad but never made it. Although my Cantonese was poor, I was able to communicate with him. His sons (my cousins) seem to be doing quite well. The older one was an architect and now running his own business – journalism I believe. The second one works for the city in the Financial Dept – responsible for collecting taxes. Supposedly works only 4 hrs out of 7 hrs per day.
After dinner, we took a night cruise down part of the Li River river and into 2 lakes with beautiful lighted structures – buildings, pagodas, bridges, trees, and even a mountain. Views were stunning and it felt like Christmas – cruise lasted for 1.5 hrs and included being "lifted" and "lowered" into the lakes like the Panama Canal. We were dead tired by the end of the cruise – about 11:00 pm. Surprisingly, our cousin was gracious enough to wait for us at the pick up point and drive us back to the hotel – Sheraton Guilen.
There were people swimming in the river late at night – and there were lots of cruises. Area was lively and bustling. Quite an impressive first night.