Hong Kong (Zhengzhou) Day 13 (January 6, 2006)

7 01 2006

Hong Kong to Zhengzhou

We got up at 0630.  Had to make sure everything was ready!  Last night I had plugged in all the chargers, made sure all the batteries were good in full charge, all the cameras, and their supporting cards were ready.  My job was easy.  Mrs D had to try to figure out how we were going to pack eight days of clothing.  In the morning, we made sure the appartment was clean, that all the windows were closed and that the various electric outlets were turned off (that’s right, you can turn off individual outlets in Hong Kong – cool!).

We headed out by 0830, with our 50lb luggage, cameras, and laptop.  We kept our fleece and Gore Tex jackets in a separate carry on bag, so that we’d be ready for the cold weather in China.  We had to take the bus to the Airport express train, so we heaved our luggage on the bus, and found a spot.  This meant that we sat squished in with all the commuters, and that we tried to keep from having our luggage tip over and kill some poor small Asian 🙂  Thankfully we took the bus to the terminus, so we didn’t have to fight others to get out, otherwise we might still have been on the bus!  From the bus, it was a quick walk over to the MTR station which had the airport express train.  Once we got there, the train had just arrived, so we settled into its very comfortable seats, and settled in for the ride.  The ride had only three stops, and then we were at the airport.  Quick, and smooth.  Nice.  Vancouver needs something like this.

We got to the airport with about 15 minutes to kill before we had to meet our tour guide.  We met our guide at 1010. She took our passports, and our main luggage, to check it in, and to get the various forms filled out with our information.  We headed out to get a little breakfast, since we hadn’t had much to eat when we left home this morning.  We wandered around a bit, and ate at “Popeye’s”  Don’t.  For that matter, if you can plan enough in advance, don’t eat at the airport at all. Everything is REALLY expensive, and the Popeye’s food was nowhere near the quality of food that I had been getting used to while traveling around Hong Kong.  We stopped at a magazine stand, where I could finally get an English language magazine.  It only cost a small fortune 😦

We were back at the meeting point at 1130, and met the other members of our tour.  It was a family of 6, from New Zealand and Hong Kong.  Small tour. Excellent.  We had to be at the departure gate by 1200, so we headed through the airport.  It was MUCH busier than it was when we arrived.  People moving everywhere, coming and going.  We hung around the gate for a while, and then boarding began for the plane.  It was a 737, much smaller than the 747-400 we flew to Hong Kong in.   We were seated in block with our fellow tourists.  Not too much chance to chat with them, other than back in the waiting lounge.  They seemed quite nice.

The flight lasted about 2.5 hours, and then we arrived in Zhengzhou.  The local temperature was 0C, much colder than the 14C that we left in Hong Kong.  I was only wearing my fleece vest, so I garnered quite a few looks as I got off the plane, and gathered my luggage.  I definitely need to get something warmer on before we spent too much time in this colder weather.  Out came my fleece jacket, and Mrs D’s gloves, and hat.  We met our local tour guide here, and found out that she will be with us from Zhengzhou through to Xian.  We will be traveling in a minibus, that holds about 15 people, so it’s pretty roomy.

The bus:

We headed out on the bus, and travelled through the streets of Zhengzhou.  It was interesting to see the different home styles, as compared to Guangzhou. Roofs on the houses were flat, as there really isn’t very much rain to shed.  The area is quite dry, being on the edge of the Gobi desert.  Our tour guide talked alot, basically telling various stories about Chinese history, and some of the details about our upcoming tour (in Cantonese).  After some time, we came up to our first scenic point.  The Yellow river.  It was about 1500 when we got there, so the sun was low, and the wind was up.  It felt MUCH colder.  Of course, I still hadn’t got my gloves and hat out, so I almost froze.  Our guide explained many things about the Yellow river, all of which I didn’t understand. I got some basic translations from Mrs D, and asked a few questions myself (via Mrs D.)  I got a cool picture of a man poling along the river.

The bridge across the river is 5km.  At its widest point, the river is 4.8km wide, when in full flood.

The fisherman:

Bell tower spotted while leaving the river:

After the river, we stopped at a little shop, selling the local berry – dried, mixed, powdered.. you name it.  It was quite an interesting shop, and they had samples.  It was OK, but nothing that we wanted to buy.  Interestingly this shop was only minimally heated. It was probably -2C outside, and if we were lucky it was 1C inside.  Brrrr.  The salespeople were friendly, and certainly wanted to help you get what you wanted.

Mrs D and the fruit:

That stop completed, we headed off again.  This time to dinner.  We went to a restaurant in Zhengzhou, and ate local fare.  It was a 12 plate dinner!  There were many dishes that seemed similar to what I’ve had in Vancouver, but there were lots of different things that I hadn’t had before as well.  We had a local Zhengzhou beer (thos of us that were drinking beer), and ended with dessert of Water melon. Interestingly you will find locals selling watermelon out of the back of their “trucks”.  Apparently you can buy one for $0.20CDN  They are quite sweet, and very flavourul.  The restaurant was a bit “chilly.  I sense a disturbing trend.  It was definitely better at the end of the meal with a large meal in your belly.

Watermelon vendor:

We were taken next to the hotel, Jing Qiao Hotel.  It’s a 4 star hotel, and it felt like it.  The staff were very professional, and the rooms were spacious, and well equipped.  There was internet in the room, and it worked!  I stayed up transferring some photos, and updating previous days’ blog entries, while Mrs D just passed out.  I called it a night at 2230, as we had a busy day planned ahead in Luoyang and area.

Cool building on the way to the hotel:

Photos at http://www.fotothing.com/dragonspeed

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