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Published: August 13th 2019
Yesterday my connecting flight to Zhengzhou on Air China was disappointingly over an hour late departing, meaning that I finally arrived at the hotel at 1am after 27 hours of travelling and not being sure I was going to love it here. It was easy at Zhengzhou airport. The taxi rank was well organised. I showed the queue guy the hotel address in Chinese and he gave me a meaningless bit of paper. The taxi driver grunted at it and put something into his phone and off we went into the pitch black, no landmarks at all. I didn’t have a clue how long it would take except that Leslie, my buddy, had messaged to say his fare was 72RMB. I asked for a receipt and the driver flapped his hand at the meter. By this time I was so tired and hof I was past caring. I knew it would be more as it was night rate time and that he would add the toll charge onto the meter price. I was so relieved when I saw the hotel, the Ramada. He gave me the meter receipt, 96RMB and the toll receipt which I couldn’t read, so I handed him
my phone with the calculator and he typed it in. Just 10 more for the toll, so not bad for a half an hour journey.
The hotel receptionists were sweet but we are obviously a bother to them. In fact everywhere we are a bother. Oh dear, here come the tricky foreigners. They want to help but feel embarrassed at their lack of English. Smiling and being relaxed has worked so far. Google translate is a godsend for both sides, as is the camera function. They handed over my work bag of papers for my 3 week tour and a Chinese phone, which is not easy to use. The room smells a bit smoky but not enough to worry about. Floor 17 is non smoking. My email to Ramada obviously didn’t get through.
Breakfast is 7-9 so Leslie and I met at 8, today being our rest day to recover before starting work tomorrow. It was an interesting affair of varied items. Fantastic vegetables, random fruit, an unmanned noodle soup station, steamed buns of all shapes, some of them with no filling, scary soups, a sad little basket of cold French fries. The urn of tea with milk
was sweetened but the black tea was delicious. Generally successful. The most hilarious aspect was the 2 members of staff at the end, holding up wall hangings. They’d hold one up for a minute, then put it down and pick up another, one at each end. They had a whole repertoire and nobody was paying them any attention whatsoever. What a dull job, poor things! Then we had a planning meeting where we compared itineraries and train times, examined our train tickets (first class, not business, great sadness, and tried with no success to make calls on the phones. I couldn’t even get the 2 flat pin charger to go in the socket. WeChat works great though.
There is not a lot to see here so we headed off to the conference/arts centre area where a big Abrasives and Grinding conference starts tomorrow. It was fairly easy to find except the pavement ran out at the end. It took about 20 minutes to get there. The roads are so wide and have zebra crossings. The traffic is super quiet, scooter glide last almost noiselessly, there seem to be far more electric vehicles here. We walked around the lake to
Disappointed that washing clothes in the fetid lake is not allowed.
the building known as the corn cob and after a cheeky Starbucks (don’t judge, it’s much easier for everyone concerned) we went up to the 58th floor. Cost was 136RMB for 2. The receptionist used google to talk to us! Great views from the top, almost deserted.
We walked back via a small supermarket and bought expensive yogurts for lunch, then tried to suss out the row of shops opposite for eating possibilities. It looked tricky. After some downtime we tried to find the bar in the hotel but it was deserted, there is a sort of tea room area where you can book out little rooms, really cute with 2 girls twiddling their thumbs as there were no customers.
So out we trotted in search of dinner and round the corner in the same block as the hotel there was an escalator going up, we thought into a shopping area but it was actually a hotpot restaurant, huge! We decided to give it a whirl, which was a good decision as when we came out loads of people were waiting for tables. There were pictures on the menu but no English. One waitress was so kind helping
us out. We didn’t know how much to order and everyone looked like they knew what they were doing. So we ordered some beef, bean sprouts, green vegetables, noodles and bamboo shoots. Several schoolboy errors occurred, like me dumping a strip of noodles in without pulling them out to make them thin, hence they were a bit chunky. There were 3 stock sections. The middle one was mushroom soup and the other 2 we had to choose so we asked for a little bit spicy. There was a help yourself section where you made your own sauce to go with the meat from a huge selection of mainly unidentifiable items. Also fruit. We ordered 2 beers and they came in the hugest giant sized tumblers. The waitress kept coming over and helping us ‘This one cook 2 minutes’ and pairing more green tea and topping up the stock. We were the only non-Chinese and it was great. People were obviously surprised to see us, and in the case of one little baby, gobsmacked, but it was such fun! The bill came to 300RMB, which wasn’t the end of the world as it was delicious and just the right amount of
food. Healthy too.
On leaving we carried on round the building as I thought I’d seen a temple, although a sign outside was identified by the camera on google as medicine. It was a traditional and very expensive medicine shop. We got told off for our phones as they quite rightly thought we were going to take pictures. The staff wouldn’t leave us alone, just looking fell on deaf ears, and one girl with perfect if hesitant English stuck to us like glue. Upstairs was a sort of museum with models of people making traditional medicines, old implement, books, it was very beautifully done in old style decoration. We were sure she wanted to sell us something but we managed to exit intact. It was nice to see something old amongst all the modern buildings. The corn cob was lit up with lasers, seen from our floor when we got back.
My vpn is working perfectly (ExpressVPN) and so I can get Facebook, YouTube etc. Each room in the hotel has its own router. So far so good!
Tot: 2.688s; Tpl: 0.068s; cc: 12; qc: 54; dbt: 0.0429s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 2;
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