Saturday, October 18, 2008


Good morning Rebecca and all,

It is yet another sunny and comfortable day this
Sunday morning in Beijing. The 1st ever World Mind
Sports Games officially came to an end last night and
now players and officials from around the world are in
the process of returning to their home countries.
Karen, Pamela and I are flying out at 3:50 this
afternoon. We take an 11 hour flight to Vancouver
where Pamela and I will say goodbye to Karen, who
then has a short hop over to Nanaimo. Pamela and I
get back to Toronto late tonight (Sunday). Kismet
flies home to Edmonton as well.

The past two days provided further opportunities to
experience Beijing. We did so at a leisurely pace.
As I may have mentioned earlier our hotel/playing
site are all part of the Olympic installations. Nearby
are the "Bird's Nest" (China National Stadium) and
the "Water Cube" (Aquatics Centre). We toured inside
both venues and they were magnificent. Both sites
are particularly stunning when they are lit up at night.
Many Beijingers now visit these sites and thousands
took advantage of a pleasant Friday afternoon to do so.
After much experimentation, over time, we have
found good and inexpensive Chinese food restaurants
and we dined again with most of the usual suspects.

On Saturday, a taxi ride saw us arriving at a down-
town park at about 9:30 am. This was not really a
tourist spot, but rather a large green park where the
residents come to rest, frolic and play. They partake
of dancing, singing, games playing, strolling and
Tai Chi. The Chinese all seemed to be greatly enjoy-
ing themselves.
Then off to Tian' amen Square, the huge meeting place
of note in history. Mao's memorial is located there.
Our last Beijing lunch and then we took the subway
back to the Olympic stop near out hotel in mid afternoon.

The closing ceremonies for the Mind Sports Games
took place last evening. Since the actual medal present-
ations had previously been made, the closing cere-
monies were really just a huge cocktail party with
lots of food and drink, held in a large green space,
about the size of four football fields adjacent to the
site of the other mind sports.
Josee Damiani, President of the World Bridge Feder-
ation and President as well of the World Mind Sports
Federation informed us that 2730 competitors from
123 countries took part in these Mind Sports Games.
China was the runaway leader in the medal count.
Canada did not reach the podium. I believe the U.S.
won two medals.

This will be my last blog from Beijing. It has been fun
to write each day to anyone checking in our our time
here. I have no idea if anyone has been doing so, but
feel free to e-mail me your comments back home at

Barbara, Nancy, Sally, Martin, Bev, David, Abe, -
thanks for looking after everything back at the club.
Michael - we hope you finally win some masterpoints
and emerge victorious in today's Swiss Teams at the
Nanaimo Regional.
My dearest "Rubberino" - can't wait to see you on

Pamela has been an exemplary shopper while here.
The Beijing economy will be taking a huge hit with
her departure today.

So bye, bye, Beijing, bye, bye!
You are a great city. It has been wondrous.

John Rayner

Friday, October 17, 2008

THURSDAY IN BEIJING with Pamela & Karen

Hi all,

As threatened, here is the description of our Thursday
in Beijing. Please see my blog of earlier today -
"Pamela, Karen and a Day in Beijing" for some preamble
about my fellow explorers yesterday.

At noon Thursday Pamela, Karen and I set out to try to
discover the flavour of the older, less modern, less
touristy side of Beijing. I had been looking for this all
during my visit, but we had not yet experienced it.
We took a taxi to the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower
to start our day's activities. Taxis are very inexpensive
here compared to back home - I would say about a
sixth of the cost as compared to Toronto. They have
seat belts but they always seem to be inaccessible due
to the fact that nobody ever uses them. From here we
commenced our visit to the "hutongs" of Beijing. I had
mentioned that the Hutong was a district in Beijing - but
that is not really correct. Hutongs rather are areas where
the streets are very narrow and behind the streets lined
with little shops are whole blocks of mostly residences of
the common Chinese. These residences are generally very
spartan homes often with shared public washroom facilities.
Driving on the narrow streets/lanes is not very practical,
but tourists can get a feel for this aura of Beijing by taking
a pedicab ride. (a rickshaw, maybe, but powered by
bicycling - two passengers to a pedicab). While Pamela
had a stroll and a visit to a coffee shop, Karen and I took
the 50 minute pedicab ride. I found it very interesting -
this was the kind of Beijing I had wanted to see. We went
by the house where Mao lived as a boy, and visited a bed
and breakfast-type courtyard inside the hutong.
Upon arrival back at the end of our ride, Pamlea was talking
to a Brit who had been living in China for the past six years.
He was a professional cyclist representing England in various
races here in China. Travis gave us some useful information
about our current city and even recommended a bar area
for last night if we were into that. As usual we succumbed
to the street vendors who seem to be omnipresent - hawking
almost anything one can imagine. And we have been getting
much more proficient at the bargaining process. We are now
seasoned bargainers - or at least, so we think.

Following this initial visit to the hutongs we set off on a fine
walk along a thin mid-city lake stopping at maybe 3:00 for
some lunch at a rooftop local restaurant.
Next we took a 15-20 minute cab ride to a gigantic
"department" store specializing in clothing. Pamela was
returning a men's shirt that she had bought earlier in the week.
Pamela ended up having me pick out an alternate shirt in
exchange - but I have no doubt that if she had returned it for
a cash refund that she would have bargained for more in return
than she had originally spent. That's how good Pamela is at
all of this process.
In the sprawling department store was a massage corner where
we all indulged in various pleasures. I got a foot massage,
manicure and full upper body massage, as did Karen. Pamela
who is renown for her great nails and designs thereon got a
foot rub and a fancier pedicure / manicure combination.
Our foot massage lasted 30 minutes, during which a second
attendant did our manicures. The upper body massage followed
for about half an hour starting with the forehead, top of the head,
(I was very nervous as the masseuse vigorously rubbed the top
of my head, as I feared that the little remaining hair I have would
come out in her hands) neck, shoulders, back, arms and finally
hands. This was all very exquisite, but a little rough at times.
The cost for about an hour and twenty minutes of such luxurious
service was about $14.00 Canadian. My neck and shoulders were
a little sore this morning. But I hadn't lost any hair, fortunately.
Next time I'll have to learn to relax a little more.

We were to meet a group of other Canadians for dinner at an
Indian restaurant not far from the department store. The problem
was that we didn't have the address or telephone number
of the restaurant, just its general coordinates. After wandering
hopelessly for about 45 minutes in search of the restaurant, we
agreed to abandon the search and find an eatery of our own. Pamela
suggested we go down the next street we came upon. Immediately
upon turning down that street, Karen spotted the name of the
restaurant for which we had been so futilely looking. That was an
amazing stroke of serendipity, but we figured that no one else of
our potential group would have been able to find it either. Much
to our surprise upon arriving at the 4th floor restaurant the whole
other seven were there! (Sandra & Doug, Dave, Jurek, Kiz,
Stephen and Howard Weinstein). The food and company were
We finished our dinner at about ten and everyone was ready to call
it a night, but not our intrepid Pamela, who had it in her bonnet all
day that we should go to the bar area and visit a spot recommended
by the aforementioned Travis. The others said goodbye to us and
Pamela, Karen and I set off to find "Swing." It was not far away -
an international bar where English was widely spoken. The bar
was not big and not fancy. The entertainment was a Phillipino trio -
a woman singer, a male singer and a great guitar player. Their songs
were the oldies and goldies of the 60's, 70's and 80's. The place was
really rocking, with everyone singing to the music and generally
getting swept up in the camaraderie and revelry of the night. There
were Canadians, Germans, British, Chinese, Aussies and others in
the mix. My two team members were presented roses by various
admirers, but when the admirers realized that Pamela and Karen
were with me, they backed off, acknowledging the time honoured
international code that you don't mess with women who are
accompanied by their Non Playing Captain.
Each time i went outside for some fresh air - I was approached by
guys asking me if would like to go to a "Lady Bar." Later I was asked
by Chinese ladies if I would like go go to a "Lady Bar." Now I am not
sure what exactly the Lady Bar entails, but your guess is as good as
mine. Remembering that my responsibilities to the Canadian Bridge
Federation in my capacity as Non Playing Captain required that I
never let down my guard until all six members of my team are
safely returned to Canadian soil, I realized that the "Lady Bar"
experience would have to be left until a future visit to China.
Eventually I trundled Pamela and Karen into a taxi for the return
to our hotel. The cab driver, once again, got lost, but a succesful
return was ultimately executed.

It had been a wondrous day in this teeming metropolis. We had
first hand seen the hutongs, passed vendors selling cooked, hot
yams, and hot corn on the cob. We had battled the crowded roads of
Beijing competing with bicycles, power assisted bicycles, pedicabs,
rickshaws, taxis, cars, trucks and pedestrians for advancement
toward our destinations. We had successfully bargained for the
purchase of varied merchandise. (personally, I bought two 'Rolex"
watches for the low, low price of about $8.00. I know these were
authentic Rolex watches, because the seller swore to me that
they were). We had had a great dinner and experienced the
throbbing night life.

Thank you to our Canadian dinner friends. Thank you to Travis
and others foreigners living here. Thank you to the local Chinese.
Thank you to Beijing. All contributed to a joyous autumn day in
this far away land.
And, of course, a special thank you to Pamela and Karen.

It's is very late now.
Italy won the Open, England the Women's and Japan the Senior.

Goodnight everyone, from Beijing.


Thursday, October 16, 2008


Hi Rebecca and everyone back in Canada,

It's Friday morning here in Beijing.

Allow me to tell you a little about Karen Cumpstone
and Pamela Nisbet - the two founding members of
your 2008 Canadian Women's Team.

Karen was born and raised in Nanaimo, B.C. Travelling
in Europe, she met her soon-to-be husband, Ian, at a
bierhaus in Germany. Very shortly thereafter she
found herself living in Ian's homeland, New Zealand.
There she learned bridge and resided for the next 26 years.
A little over a year ago, Karen and Ian returned to Nanaimo
to continue their lives in Canada.
Karen is an accountant by trade.
Karen and Ian's son accompanied them to live in B.C and
their daughter remains in N.Z.

Pamela is a native Kiwi (New Zealander) and about eight
years ago she came to live in Canada along with her two
daughters. Pamela is a nurse and health care administrator.
I know from talking to her that she has a real compassion
and love for the people for whom she provides care.
Pamela proudly became a Canadian citizen just a few months
ago and has recently moved to Ottawa from Cobourg.

Karen and Pamela had squared off against one another many
times over the years they had in common in New Zealand,
and have oft represented New Zealand in Pacific and world
and world events, but never as partners or as teammates.
They knew each other well from their commonality at the
bridge table, but never played together in N.Z.
When Karen came back to her roots in Nanaimo, I believe
that they started to chat and play on BBO. And soon Pamela
was asking Karen if she would like to play in the 2008 CWTC.
Thus was born the Cumpstone/Nisbet partnership.
Martine and Pascale were then asked to join and Susan and
Kiz rounded out the team.

I only met Karen in March of this year at the Victoria Regional
through may partner Michael Roche, who as most of you know,
moved to Victoria about two years ago. A little later, at the
Regional in Winnipeg, Michael and I played some team events
with Karen and Pamela with a singular lack of success,
which could be attributed mainly to the esteemed partnership
of Roche and Rayner. Winnipeg was my home for the first 16
years of my life, so I was happy to go for the regional and the
girls were going to get some real life (as apposed to BBO)
practice. One evening when the four of us were out for dinner,
having been knocked out of yet another knockout, Pamela
asked me if I would be their non playing captain should they
emerge victorious in the Montreal CWTC. I believe that she
must have had a glass or two of wine too many, but I did say
to ask me again if they won in May. They did - and Pamela
repeated her offer and I became their NPC. Although I didn't
know Pamela all that well until the last year or so, I accepted her
offer - in large part because I had come to know that Karen and
Pamela are fun-loving, intelligent and engaging women and good
bridge players. I did not know Martine, Pascale, Susan and Kiz
at all really and it has been a great pleasure to become their
friend over the past few months.

So there is some background about Karen and Pamela.
They are both a little nuts (in the best possible way) and still
confuse me occasionally with their Kiwi accents and expressions,
but they have both become great friends of mine. They also
have a wonderful affinity for each other as partners and people.

With this bakdrop, I invite you to read my next blog about the
amazing day the three of us spent in Beijing yesterday.
I am sure you just can't wait!

Bye for now,


Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Good morning from Beijing everyone,

I usually wake up at about 7:00 each morning.
The first thing I do is look out the window toward the
mountains in the distance. You can tell the smog level
by how clearly those mountains can be see. Some mornings
the mountains are easily seen and therefore the air is at
its cleanest. On other mornings the mountains can not be
seen at all due to the poor air quality. This morning is yet
another beautiful sunny warmish day, but the mountains
can hardly be seen at all so the smog level is relatively high.
Often there is a faintly unpleasing odour in the air. It is not
in any way terrible, but noticeable nonetheless.

Play is now finished for all Canadian players.
The Transnational Mixed Teams round robin phase finished
yesterday afternoon. There were 120 teams from around the
world entered in the event.
Canada had players on four different teams.
The Brown Team which included Stephen Brown, Pamela
Nisbet, Jurek Czyzowicz, Margaret (from Poland) and Sandra
and Doug Fraser were the highest placing of the four teams.
They finished 30th. Kismet Fung, Susan Culham, Howard
Weinstein, Michael Yuen and Bryan Maksymetz finished 36th.
Both of those teams had a chance to be amongst the 16 qualifiers,
but fell short in the final day. My team, which was composed of
Karen Cumpstone, John Rayner, three of Karen's New Zealand
friends and Dillop from India (now living in Kuala Lampur),
finished 62nd. Ours were a most enjoyable group of
teammates and it was a pleasure getting to spend some time
with them and get to know them a little. Our 4th Canadian
team Vincent, Marc Andre, Martine and Pascale withdrew
after two days of play in order to do some sightseeing. They
left for home yesterday. Susan is flying home today. Only
Pamela, Karen, Kiz and I remain from the Women's Team.

All that remains now are two days of play to decide the
winners in four events: the Open Teams where Italy faces
off against England - the Women's Teams where China takes
on England - the Senior Teams where the U. S. and Indonesia
meet - and the Transnational Teams which has eight teams
left to do battle.

The hand that follows is not instructional but you may find it
entertaining or amusing. It arose during the final match in the
Transnational Mixed. The names of the various participants
will be left out in order to protect the guilty. But is was kind
of fun what happened.

10 9, Q 10 9 8 6 5 3, J 6, J 9

Q 4, 2 , 5, A K Q 10 8 7 5 3 2

K 8 7 6 2, K 7, K Q 7 4 3, 4

A J 5 3, A J 4, A 10 9 8 2, 6

Board #29, North is dealer, both vulnerable

At one table
Pass 3NT* Pass 6D
Pass Pass Double Pass
Pass Pass
Result: down 3 for a team score of minus 800.

At the other table
3H 5C Double Redouble
Pass Pass Pass
Result: making 7 for a team score of minus 1800.

So the four protagonists combined to lose
2600 on the board for a loss of 21 IMPS, near
to the maximum of 24 that can be lost on any
one board.

What had happened at the first table was that
the East/West partnership had recently changed
the agreement about a 3NT opening. One player
forgot about that change and meant the 3NT
call as "Gambling" (showing a solid 7 or 8 card
minor with no outside Ace or King). In West's
mind the 3NT opening showed a good hand with
at least 5-5 in the minor suits. So what transpired
was entirely understandable. And notice East's
admirable faith and trust in partner, believing
that she had already described her hand.

Let he who is within sin cast the first stone. We
have all had stories of a similar kind. I promise
not to divulge the names of the players involved,
although I am sure in the fullness of time the
truth will be revealed and the legend will grow.

At Karen's and my table the auction proceeded
Pass 5C Pass 6C Pass Pass Pass
the opponents of course made 7.
the result was duplicated by our teammates.
(Karen, this was my chivalrous way of protecting
your bridge reputation, making it clear to my
millions of readers that you were not one of the
guilty parties. I most enjoyed playing with you.

Breakfast and Beijing beckon.

Bye Rebecca and all.


Sunday, October 12, 2008


Good morning everyone from Beijing,

Our six Canadian Teams have all been eliminated now
from the Championship events. Canada's remaining
qualifiers - the Senior Team and the Under 26 Junior
Team - lost their round of 16 matches on Saturday.

All of the players from your Canadian Women's Team
and myself are now playing in the Transnational Mixed
Teams, which started last night and continues through
Wednesday afternoon in a Swiss Team format of 15
ten-board matches. We have formed three or four
different teams. I am playing with our team member
Karen Cumpstone along with three of her New Zealand
friends and a fellow from India. Most of our day yesterday
was spent trying to arrange teammates which is not so
easy as it is difficult to get a hold of people here.

On Saturday, which was a day off - Karen and I joined a
tour group of about ten others from Hong Kong, Singapore,
and Turkey for a day-long excursion. We started out at
7:00 am from the hotel and our visitations were to
"The Forbidden City" (residence of the Emperors), the
"Temple of Heaven," and the "Summer Palace."(summer
home of the Emperors) All were very interesting sites
harkening back to the Imperial times of China. At the
Temple there were beautiful parks and gardens. Many
citizens of Beijing were there partaking of singing, dancing,
game playing and Tai Chi.
We learned at the Summer Palace about the "Dragon Lady,"
who served as the de facto emperor of China at the turn of
the last century.

I continue to be amazed at how modern Beijing seems to be.
In all of our travels in and around Beijing, we have travelled
grand and wide streets, passed thousands of apartment
complexes and much modern architecture. We haven't yet
encountered the old parts or poor parts of Beijing. They
exist but we have not seen them. I am hoping to visit the
Hutong district of Beijing where apparently we will get
a better feel for the more ancient aura of the city.

Good night Rebecca - hope you had a great weekend.
Bye all.


Saturday, October 11, 2008


Good afternoon all.

It is now Saturday afternoon 5:00 pm here in Beijing.

Your Women's Team saw its goal of qualifying for the
Knockout Round of 16 come to an early end yesterday
when the team was defeated by the Phillipines in its
first match of the day. That loss put to an end our hopes
of moving on. The team finished with a win vs Serbia
and a concluding loss to Australia.
As Non Playing Captain my realistic goal for the team
was qualification to the Knockout Rounds, and I have
no doubt that each member of the team had similar
aspirations. So it comes as a great disappointment to
all of us to fall short of that goal. But, on the positive
side it has been a great experience for everyone on the
team and I have no doubt that as players every team
member has gained valuable international experience.

So congratulation to Susan Culham, Kismet Fung,
Pascale Gaudreault, Martine Lacroix, Karen Cumpstone
and Pamela Nisbet who played so hard and represented
Canada so well!

The Canadian Open Team suffered an even more crushing
denouement as they saw the final qualification spot slip
out of their grasp in their final match yesterday. It takes
at least a little while to recoup after having a spot in the
top four and then losing that spot by so little.
Congratultions to Marc Andre, Vince, Kamel, Nick, Dan
and Robert. We all shared your run with pride and shared
your disappointment in the final boards yesterday.

Canada's hopes now remain with our Senior Team and our
under 26 Junior Team. We wish them well as they advance.
Well done.

I will continue to report from Beijing on the Transnational
Teams, your Canadian players and the City of Beijing.

Have a great weekend everyone.


Thursday, October 9, 2008


Good morning Canada. How are you? And good morning Rebecca!

It is a sunny and fine morning here in Beijing. The sky is clear and
the mountains clearly visible in the distance. In those mountains are
sections of the Great Wall which we visited yesterday.

The round robin phases of the team competitions conclude today.
As mentioned before, your Women's Team will require a combination
of some big wins and favourable results amongst some of the teams
ahead of us, to be able to climb to a qualifying position.
Today we play the Phillipines, Serbia and Australia.
The Senior Team is virtually assured of finishing in the top eight of
its group and therefore moving on the the Knockout Round of 16.
Our Open Team is in a real dogfight to remain in the top four in its
group which is required for qualification in that event.
Everyone of course is hoping for the best in today's play.

Yesterday was a day off for all participants.
A group of sixteen of us (Karen, Pamela, Martine, Pascale and myself
from the Women's Team - Dave, Marc Andre, Kamel, Vince, and Nick
from the Open Team - John, Billy, Stepehen and Jurek from the
Senior Team - and two other friends) set off at 8:30 am for our day's
journey in a comfortable bus.

Our guide was "Michael" - a friendly young man in this twenties who
was very personable and spoke English very well, although certainly
not perfectly. We were ultimately heading to the Great Wall of China,
but with several stops along the way.
During the trip Michael was very informative, sharing with us many
little insights into Chinese culture.
We learned about the unlucky and lucky Chinese numbers. Number
four is the unlucky number, as it represents death. (To May Jackman,
my friend from my bridge club, and who recently attended the Olympics
here - I now understand why you never like to start at table #4)
Michael said that many hotels do not have a 4th floor, just as in North
America, the 13th floor is often non existent. The numbers 8 and 9 are
the lucky numbers.
Michael quizzed us all as to which are the three lucky animals. With
guesses on our part and with Michael's coaxing, we eventually were able
to come up with the correct three - the dragon, the lion and the phoenix.
The Panda is the national animal of China and if we were to go to the
Beijing Zoo we would see some Pandas.
We did have a little difficulty understanding some of Michael's English.
At one point he was talking about what some of us heard as
"the five erections." One of the guys mentioned that this was a whole
year's worth of activity for him. As Michael continued it soon became
apparent that he was referring the the "five directions" - North, South,
East, West, and in the middle. Another one we struggled with was what
sounded like "chess." For a while some of us thought that Michael
was under the mistaken belief that we were all participants in the Chess
part of the World Mind Sports Games. Again, after a while, we came to
the realization that whenever Michael said "chess" that he was really
saying "Chinese." A third was "amber" which over time we learned was
actually "emperor." As I said, Michael was a great guide and spoke
English very well. His few pronunciation foibles just made the trip even
more enjoyable for all of us.
We learned that the lucky colours of China are red and yellow.
80% of Chinese are Buddhists. Buddhism had its origins in India and
Thailand. 20% of Chinese are Taoists. Taoism derived from Cunfucious.
About an hour out of Beijing our first stop was the "Ming Tombs."
This complex contained shrines in which many of the Ming Dynasty
Emperors are entombed. Also on display are many varied treasures.
We saw trees in the yards there of up to eight hundred years of age.
Our next stop was at a Jade factory where we had a quick lesson on
how to distinguish real jade from fake, glass jade. Jade comes in a vast
panorama of colours. This little lesson was really just a prelude to us
entering the huge store containing jade items of all kinds. There were
many very attractive items and many of us made purchases.
The 16 of us had an included lunch there which was the best meal I had
had to date in China. It was nothing fancy, but a succulent variety of
appetizers, vegetables, seafood and meats. Beer and pop were very
Another hour of driving and we finally arrived at the Great Wall.
Michael told us that we would all be taking a cable car to the Wall at the
top of the mountain. We turned the corner to get on and soon were
met by the fact that the cable car was really just a chair lift - but no
turning back now. During the steep 7-minute ride to the top I came to
the realization that gripping firmly to the restraining bar would actually
be of very little use if disaster were to occur. So, I tried to relax and
enjoy the spectacular ride. At the top, again the views were wondrous.
About 2/3 of our group continued the adventure by trekking for about
30 or 40 minutes to the uppermost fortress installation. This trek was
first steeply downward and then the majority of the rest, steeply upward.
I was not amongst those who completed the journey. I started out, but
then came to the conclusion that if any calamity befell me, that the team
might be left without the services of its Non Playing Captain. So with
bitter disappointment I turned back, taking one for the team.
After a bit, I worked up my courage and took the chair lift back down.
At the base are lots of little stalls or shops with trinkets and clothing for
sale. I bought Rebecca a number of items and part of the fun of the
Chinese shopping experience is bargaining with the shopkeepers. They
say 150 RMB and by the time it's all said and done, you might get the
item for 20 RMB. Probably still overpaying, but the thrill of the trans-
action makes it all worthwhile. And whatever you pay, it is far less than
we would pay in Canada. There are some great bargains here in China.
On the downward trip most of our intrepid band took the "toboggan,"
which is an alternate mode of return. The "toboggan" is a luge-like
descent in a single person sled along a snaking, metal sided run.
Gravity of course does all the work and one has control over the speed
of the descent. After all the tardy ones returned to the bus, we were off
on what we thought was our return to our hotel.
But there was to be one more stop somewhere in Beijing. At something
like the Chinese National Institute of Natural Medicine. This institute
specializes in such treatments as massage, accupuncture, accupressure,
natural diagnosis and herbal remedies. We were shepherded into a room
where we all sat along the sides of the room and immersed our feet in a
bucket of warm water. Sixteen young Chinese trainees then entered the
room and we each were given about a fifteen minute foot masssage while
a doctor described the principles of their type of medicine. The foot massage
was terrific and we were all expected to tip our attendants about $3.00.
Following the foot message we each were examined by a doctoe and his
assistant. The doctor took one's pulse, looked at one's tongue and skin and
asked a few questions. At the conclusion of this brief examination, herbal
remedies/treatments were recommended. With myself having a plethora
of ailments according to the doctor, the recommended herbal treatments
I so desperately needed would cost me only about $500.00 a month. But
because I have bought Rebecca so many gifts, I have no money left for
such indulgences. Therefore I left - unherbed.
Finally we were on our way back to the hotel, about half an hour away.
We passed several MacDonalds on the way and Vince suggested he would
like a Big Mac, as he had been given a clean bill of health at the Institute,
and could therefore afford the unhealthiness of such a meal. I learned later
than indeed Vince did go out last night for a Big Mac, although I do not have
first hand confirmation of this fact.

Karen, Pamela, Stephen, Jurek and myself ended the day's activities with
a fine buffet dinner at the Intercontinental Hotel. Since all the wines were
about 480 RMB, I ordered the house red for 100 RMB and we quite liked
that wine. So much so that we ordered three more bottles. Turns out when
the bill arrived, the wine was 480 RMB ($80) a bottle, not the 100 RMB
that I thought I had read. The 100 RMB was for one glass of wine. But
everyone accepted my error and paid his share of the bill. The dinner was
a fine conclusion to a memorable Beijing day.

I have the pact with myself that I don't read Martine's blog until after
posting mine, so that I don't plagiarize her ideas. But now I am done. I will
read Martine's blog. And then off to breakfast.

We are all hoping for good bridge results today - Friday in Beijing.

Bye, all.