Monday, February 1, 2016

Traveling to Lucee's City- Changsha, Hunan Province

Sunday January 17, 2016
Today is our last day without Lucee... We woke up and decided to go check out the pool area, since we unfortunately hadn't done that yet. The pool area, like everything else in the hotel was amazing and over the top. Definitely the best pool area we've every been in. It was a huge pool, perfect temperature, all to ourselves. The ceiling was glass, so could look up and see the morning sky. The pool was an infinity pool so it looked like it was the same level as the walking area around it. They gave us a magnetic key to the lockers which had water, a towel, and Croc-like sandals for us to wear. The marble floors were heated. After swimming, we each enjoyed the hot tub, steam room, and sauna before showering and heading back up to the room. We went to enjoy breakfast at our super fancy breakfast area. This time, we tried many more things since it was free and if we didn't like it we could try something else. I had what was like a noodle soup with cilantro, mushrooms, meat, water chestnuts, Chinese noodles, asparagus, and green onions in it. It was so good, hard to believe I was eating this for breakfast. Most of the foods we ate for breakfast were not sweet or typical for a breakfast back in the US. After that, we went back to the room to try to pack our bags... We had to juggle things around because the weight limits in country are less than coming from US. Also, we had bought items, so we had more stuff this time. Thankfully we had carry on luggage to fill with the heavier items. We were so thankful for the Swain's letting us borrow their hand held scale.
We met Rocky in the lobby after checking out of our room. They drove us to the airport and Rocky helped us get through check-in. We realized we were really going to miss him and Mr. Wu. It's hard to believe we will have 2 more guides and 2 more drivers on this trip. How could they compare to Rocky and Mr. Wu? Also, how could a hotel and accommodations compare with what we had at the JW Marriott? We were going to have to leave our expectations behind and move forward with different expectations. Thankfully, the weather should be getting better. Rather than being in the teens and 20's we are going to a place where the temps are in the 30-40's now.
We walked to our gate and now that we were traveling in country, we definitely were the minority! In fact, we only saw 3 other Caucasian people the entire time, and we're pretty sure they were from Europe or Australia. We didn't hear them talk, so we really have no clue except for the way they dressed. We were traveling to the Hunan province, away from the very international Beijing city where we'd see other people occasionally (maybe only 20 total the past 4 days we were there, but more than 3).
We have come to find joy in seeing similarities in certain Chinese people that remind us of people back in America. It's kind of a game now for us... we'll see someone and then say to each other, person to your left, looks like so and so. The other person will look nonchalantly and say, yep I can see that! Overall, we have seen a Jacob Kennebeck, Steven Dexter, Mike Jitjaeng, heard a mr. kielchewski, and I can't remember all the others. We wish we could take pictures to show to these people, but that would be a bit awkward. :)
After a 2 hour flight to Changsha, Hunan province... We arrived to meet our guide Ashley, a 39 year old Asian man. Very nice, and very much business. He was very helpful in telling us what to expect as we get ready to meet our daughter in less than 24 hours! Our driver Mr. E. is good, but we don't hear much from him. We get checked into our 5 star hotel (Changsha standards, it's hard to leave our expectations behind!!!) We get settled into our room and head down to eat at the “western restaurant” for dinner. We each order a hamburger and hot lemon water. It comes out and looks AHHHMAZING! It even comes with french fries. As we eat it though, we realize, this is definitely not beef. Not sure what it is and with a pink center, we didn't eat much of it. Even still, as a very loaded burger, it tasted great without the meat. And those french fries... yummy!
We went back to the room and tried to get some sleep. Ben fell asleep quickly, but I had to “nest” before I would be able to sleep. I enjoyed unpacking Lucee's clothes, shoes, and toys before heading to bed. Praise the Lord, I was able to fall asleep quickly, despite the super hard bed and flat pillow.
Cheers to our last night of sleep without Lucee... We are left with wonder of how the next several nights will be...

Beijing - 19 Million People

Our Guide in Beijing - ROCKY

Our Driver in Beijing - Best driver ever!  Mr. Wu!!!
Boarding the Chinese Airline!

Our Awesome Looking Burgers and hot lemon water

All Ready for Lucee!!

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