Day 29 was just another boring day of the same old thing at the hospital and you guessed it, raining again! I keep hoping that each day my back will be better but it just won’t fully recover. There is improvement but I still feel pain. It seems to be worse at night, I must be on a regular 4 hour Tylenol interval to deal with the pain and it always hits hardest around 5 to 6 am. At least I’m getting good sleep between Tylenol doses and I’m able to fall asleep again quite easily.
On day 30 I awoke to another overcast and rainy morning, I’m really getting tired of this weather. I’ve written how tired I am of this sore back too and guess what; it’s still here as well. I needed a break from the hospital so bad that the weather wasn’t going to stop me from getting out! We had booked Mr. Chen to drive us to the pearl factory which is located in another city about 1 hour away. Johnny came with us since he had never been there was very interested in helping TK out with interpreting. TK makes her own jewellery and was interested in grabbing some good deals on pearls and other supplies so Johnny wanted to make sure he could help her out.
We arrived to a HUGE complex that was very clean and elaborate that housed many different jewellery companies, all specializing in pearls of course. It turns out that this building housed the wholesale and retail outlets and not the actual pearl factories. There must have been at least 100 companies located here and I don’t know how they can all stay in business. Very little differentiated one from another except some were much larger and upscale but they were all selling pearls. The factories are located all around the wholesale complex but we didn’t see any which was too bad as we would have wanted a tour through one. We did get a bit of an education on pearls, how they’re cultivated and quality criteria. It was absolutely amazing how many pearls there were!! Apparently this place is one of two pearl centers in China and must be one of the worlds largest.
I’ll admit I had no idea what the value of pearls are, especially quality pearls and what we had found was an incredible bargain buyers paradise. We questioned many vendors on whether their pearls were fake and I don’t believe you’ll come across very much that isn’t authentic. One vendor held a lighter under a pearl to show us that if it doesn’t melt, it’s not fake. The price range varied drastically depending on quality but TK left with a large quantity and variety of very unique pearls and traditional pearls for less than $150 US dollars! I’ve included a picture of her stash, she’s pretty excited. Too bad I don’t have a woman in my life to buy for at the moment, she would’ve been very happy but I don’t buy on speculation.
I’ve also included a photo TK shot while driving into the pearl factory and there were piles upon piles of what appeared to be garbage or broken bricks and stones along the road and surrounding areas. Mr. Chen’s car has a dark tint on his windows and with the grey sky and rain it was difficult to really make out what this was but as it turns out they were empty oyster shells! Tons and tons of them that just get dumped and left for locals to pick through. I’m still not sure whether they were digging around for missed pearls or for oysters but they were all over regardless of the weather.
It was great to get out of the hospital for a day but it seems I’m paying the consequences. The 2 hours of driving and 3 hours sitting in my wheelchair really aggravated my back, UGHHH! It’s frustrating and not looking good for the rest of my stay in China, I can only hope and pray that things will get better.