Sunday was a travel day. We packed up early to go to the airport, and flew to Changsha. Changsha is the capitol of the Hunan province. However, the Hunan province is a very poor area, and Changsha is a fairly small city. From the airport to the hotel, we went through a very rural, agricultural area. Many, many plots of land with rice farmers out in the fields. This was the first time I have ever seen farmers in China, and I was thrilled. They were wearing conical straw hats and doing the same thing that their ancestors had done for a thousand years. Of course now they were doing it next to an airport.
We are staying at the Dolton Hotel in Changsha. It it a five-star hotel with a swimming pool, a bowling alley, and apparently two floors of Mah Jong rooms. I stopped by to see what was on the Game Floors only to be told by the young floor attendants that the floor was only for Chinese people. So, now I am determined to learn to play Mah Jong, just so I can go back and show them a Westerner can play the game. Not really the best plan, but it gives me something to do for a week while babysitting.
After getting settled in our rooms, our guides Kathy and Amy (Our tour guide in Beijing was Amy, but a different person than the Amy in Changsha or the Amy we have yet to meet in Guangzhou.) took us to a department store to stock up on provisions. We bought a bubble gun for Cheyenne that lights up and makes various lazer sounds. It took me a half hour later in the evening to cram enough kleenex inside the soundbox that it didn't deafen us every time she used it.
On the way to dinner we were told that the swimming pool is being cleaned for a week. It would be closing tonight and will reopen the day after we leave. The table tennis rooms will be open all week.
We have a wonderful Hunan restaurant next door to our hotel. We had several very spicy dishes for dinner with the rest of the families in our group. It was a kind of 'Last Supper' for our group. Everyone there was eating happily, with no infants to care for. It would be the last dinner for a while that would not include making complicated plans to take care of a baby.
We have five adoptive families in our group. Every one except our family is based in the Portland area. Lisa, myself, Cheyenne and Lisa's parents Spike and Peggy make up one group. Jim and Monica brought their six year old son, and Jim's brother and sister-in-law. Jenifer and Charles, we only met today because they were not in Beijing with us. Deb and her friend were touring Shanghai while we were in Beijing. And Jeff and Jana were in Beijing a day before we got there, and they are adopting twins.
The food was good, and the company was wonderful. Since we knew how inexpensive the beer would be, we had several bottles going at each table. In the end, we were stuffed, and the dinner cost about $3.50 a person.
And I have to mention the hotel staff today. We are in a five-star hotel and the staff are all very professional. However, there is one guy out front that kind of gives me the creeps. The bellman all wear creme and red embroidered vests. But the head greeter has an enormous creme and red embroidered top hat. It is a really wide oversized hat that looks a lot like the Mad Hatter. And on top of that, he is over-the-top friendly and a little effeminate. I'm sure he is a nice guy, and if he lived in Wenatchee, we would probably hang out a lot. But at a hotel in Changsha, it seems a little off.