Tomorrow is Hayley's day
We rose at a decent hour this morning, everyone was refreshed by the restful day on Tuesday, and went to breakfast around 9. By now, we know our way around the Marriott breakfast buffet bar. It was a morning for,( and this was everyone, not just me!) raisin bran, toast, omelets, fruit, juice, bacon, steamed meat buns, and other sundries. It's the best we have seen so far, though we hear that the Holiday Inn one here in Hefei, at the rotating restaurant on the 29th floor, is pretty good. It's nice to have a certain amount of familiarity, but we seem to be just getting used our surroundings when they change again!
Hannah showed up around 10:30 to give the girls one last go over to make sure they are packed and ready, and we were off for the airport. She also helped us negotiate a reasonable price for the embroidered laundry bags here. They are really neat rough cloth bags, and so each of us got one. Bruce also paused to get some more US currency exchanged. The Chinese hotels are really funny about this. They won't accept anything but bills in near mint condition. Any kind of tear or serious mark, they won't take. It's kinda funny; if they are worried about conterfeits, the older bills are the safest. Counterfeiters spend a lot of money to make their product look worn. It's more likely that that fresh new bill is fake, than an old worn one...but, we don't make the rules. We were later able to get the Holiday Inn to accept some that the Nanning Marriott had rejected.
We left a little later than we had wished, and traffic was pretty hectic for noon in Nanning. There is a ton of construction going on in all of the major Chinese cities (Your Walmart dollars at work) and Nanning is building a subway. If I know the Chinese, it will be fabulous...and heavily used.
We got to the airport late and had a hectic time going to the check-in, through security (lost to bottle of precious water) and ran to catch the bus to take us to the ariport out on the tarmac. (most Chinese airports don't pull up to runways, but have the old style movable staircases and have you run out, or off, on buses. See my pic of one back at Hong Kong.
I just want to say that Bruce and I are so grateful for everything that Hannah did for us. There is a lot that wasn't talked about in this blog. Hannah and the girls really bonded. We hope to be able to keep in touch with her by email. We were the last to get on the plane, and were thus scattered around the plane. I was frantic as I was tracking the Cardinal game at home and it was reaching the 14th inning when I had to turn off my "portable electronic device". I didn't know we had won until we hit the ground in Hefei.
We breezed through luggage and were out to meet our new guide, Faye, and our driver, Mr. Chen. The Hefei airport is very new. It's only a few months old! Everything looks up to date. We drove down a few 6 to 8 lane wide boulevards to get to the downtown area. All along, there were buildings in differing stages of destruction and construction.(Note the "Golden Arches" at the bottom of this picture) Audis, BMWs, and Mercedes abounded. What is going on here? Hefei was nothing like this, says Bruce, the last time he was here in 2005. It's a boom town. I hope to find out more about what the main source of growth is. Also, every car looks like this one.Covered with the dirt of the distant Gobi, and the dust of construction. Many more people are riding scooters and motorcycles...with medical face masks or bandanas across their faces. The sting and stress of air pollution is palpable. But there are lots of cute scenes as well.
Faye got us settled in with the staff at the hotel, we unpacked a little and relaxed. Bruce, Laurie, and I when through the hotel. There are several types of restaurants, fitness club, swimming pool, and an indoor mall on the 2nd and 3rd floors of all the blue blood nose in the air variety. One thing was clear to us: the clientele are no longer the Europeans; it's Chinese. Interesting stuff, indeed.
Eventually, we came back from our scouting excursion and made a few decisions.
1) We would eat at the reasonably priced noodles place tonight
2) We will be eating breakfast at the rotating restaurant on the 29th floor tomorrow and Friday.
3) God bless 50 Yuan coupons. WE saw the menu, and it would devour us.
The noodles place was a great choice tonight. I had the beef fried rice, Laurie and Hayley had beef noodles, and Bruce took over Hayley's noodles with beef and cumin because it was too spicy. Bruce dunked his head in ice water afterwards and all had a nice time. We notice that Chinese like to talk a lot over dinner, and it's a good thing we don't know what they are saying because we wouldn't be able to avoid hearing the whole conversation. They are great fun and easy to make connections with , but it's also hard to have a quiet moment to yourself unless you are in your hotel room.
We tried to get an ice cream to defeat the Mt. Vesuvius sending magma down Bruce's mouth but we were out of luck. We did find the coffee bar open, and I got an ice vanilla latte. It was made old style with the syrup on the bottom. We all spontaneously applauded when the little girl finished. I think she was a little embarrassed, but also quite proud and pleased that we had noticed the attention to detail she was giving my latte which was served in a tall parfait glass.
It was now time to go to bed, but before we did, the kids got a couple of gourmet chockys at the coffee shop, and we went up to the swim pool to give Hayley a look at it. Tomorrow, I have promised to go swimming with her, and I think I'll look forward to it after the two hour trip to the Anhui Province SWI. Four total hours in the car. Bring something to do!
See you tomorrow!