September 14, 2017:
On our first full day in Changsha, we woke up at 6:15 a.m. and got ready to go downstairs to eat breakfast on the fourth floor. It was a complimentary continental breakfast, Chinese style. There weren’t many tables in the small restaurant but luckily we had six people to hold down our own table.
We left promptly on the tour bus at 7:30 a.m. Our tour guide’s name was Will.
He spoke Mandarin so unfortunately I could only understand 35% of it or so — basically recognizing words I’ve heard before — and thus wasn’t able to take advantage of his info. He talked a lot and seemed passionate about introducing us to the sights and sounds we would be visiting. He even brought an iPad to show us photos.
He shockingly told us that the majority of the day would be spent on the bus as we had to drive 7 hours. Seven hours!!!! The itinerary on the tour sheet had only said 4 hours’ ride on the bus so 7 hours was a definite surprise to say the least. XD
We interluded the long trip with washroom breaks. The rule for tour bus drivers was that for every 2 hours of driving, they had to have a 20 minute break.
We had lunch at 11:45 a.m. at a restaurant adjoining to a hotel (The Grand Sea Hotel). The food was really good! It was Chinese food shared family style among 11 people at a table.
They kept bringing more dishes of food to our table until the count reach 10 dishes plus a corn soup! The food was yummy. The corn in the corn soup was chewy and firm. The steamed fish was really good but some tablemates said there were a lot of bones in it. There were a lot of veggie dishes, perfect for us. There was a signature thousand year old preserved egg dish. There was a tofu dish.
After lunch, we continued on our way. It was soooo hot and humid outside, 33 degrees at least. Our bus driver to had fuel up and shut off the AC while he did so. It was immensely hot in the bus while he did that…
There were more breaks between the bus rides.
After 3 p.m., it was significantly cooler outside. Phew!
We got to our hotel up near an ancient looking street at 5:15 p.m. We were given 20 minutes to put our luggage into our rooms before meeting up at 5:45 p.m. to head to dinner together. The wifi at the Fengting International Hotel was good. 🙂
We walked next door to the restaurant where dinner was already waiting for us on the table. Good thing the dishes were still hot. This table for 11 people was significantly smaller than the one at lunch.
Some tourmates commented that the food was of lower quality and saltier but I still enjoyed it a lot. The soup in the middle of the table had vermicelli and spam. The vermicelli was so good!
There was a dried shrimp and leek dish that I liked. The scrambled eggs with tomato was a classic favourite. There weren’t as many veggies here than at lunch. There were preserved sausages with onions. There was a fish dish here that was okay; the meat was a bit mushy. I liked the eggplant and peas dish.
After dinner, we set out as a group to walk through the ancient city, Fenghuang County (also known as Phoenix Ancient Town), next to a long river. It was dusk and starting to get dark. The views were beautiful!
The tour guide said that the lights on the mountain lit up from 7:30 to 11 p.m. at night and would be a beauty. He was right. Once the sun was down and all the lights lit up, the entire place looked like one of those places you see in the movies. Classic Chinese street, bridges, and scenery. Neither words, pictures, or videos do it justice. You just have to be there. 🙂
We continued walking alongside the river and saw many lit up shops and food vendors. There were Mongolian drums, toys, stinky black tofu, freshly caught shrimp made into shrimp cakes, hovering toys, karaoke bars, and more. There were so many people too.
By 8 p.m., we started heading back to the hotel. It still took an hour to get back. I was tired and looking forward to showering and washing off all the sweat and oil from my face.
Now that we’ve ventured into the deep of Changsha, our bus rides will definitely be shorter than 7 hours. It’s like a food tour, napping on the bus, and some sightseeing. XD Tune in this week for Day 2 of the trip!