Day 6 – Saturday 15th June 2019 – Shanghai to Zhengzhou
5 hours sleep, the Navigator is up at 5am, after washing last night and getting to bed at about midnight, she’s organised and wants me to be organised for a 7.30 start. Why get up at 5 ? I reckon genetics might be exposing some pretty solid dominant traits inherited from Keith McLeod – but don’t say anything to her please. Breakfast at 6 and we’re all standing around 1/2 an hour before we have to be, it’s going to be a long day!
John and Kojak ( bald headed bus driver) get us to the train station, Shonqui ( I think it is) where the bullet trains heading to the north west leave from. A magnificent modern building, highly organised and it needs to be it enormous, there are thousands of people siting for trains. We get through the security check and the passport check then minor panic – Mark can’t find his passport even though it had just been checked. Obviously he just had a blokes look because a second look finds it in his pocket. The blood starts to flow back into the Navigators face, and she calms down.
We are train G1806 from Platform 18B, Carriage 4 , seats 6a and 6b. As we are waiting I can’t help but think of how clean, modern, and organised this place is, every thing works, and it gets thousands of people to distant destinations very quickly and cheaply, but the bookings need to be done pretty well in advance, seats are in high demand.
We say our goodbye to John ( or his real name Hu) a 50 something bloke with a 22 year old daughter, he has been a great guide and organiser. I’ll mention that to Trip Advisor. We can board 15 minutes before departure, and the standard bedlam occurs when everyone tries to find their seat and somewhere to stow bags, we opt for the over head racks ( our Kathmandu 70 litre bags are ideal for this sort of travelling). 8 of another group are joking our group of 28 to do the terra cotta warriors at Xian, we’ve met some of them, and in particular 2 women who look a little wild.
We leave Shanghai and are running at 300 kph pretty quickly, heading northwest to Zhenzhou over the rich Plains that have rivers, canals, cities of sky scrapers almost all the way with market gardens and orchards mixed in as well. Fantastic roads with little traffic and parks with manicured gardens are abundant.
The Navigator has a nasty rash on her feet and ankles, so she’s a bit worried about that, not that she ever worries about much really, however it does look like something I should look concerned about. She’s going to try and find a pharmacy in Zhengzhou when we get to the hotel for some magic Chinese medicine.
After 5 hours we’ve travelled 1500 km and we arrive at Zhengzhou, it’s got the Asian haze going, it’s much hotter than Shanghai, and quite a bit drier, although the parks and gardens look magnificent.
We meet out new guide for Zhengzhou, his English name is Sean, I can’t pronounce or spell his Chinese name. He’s young, probably 30ish, he is a bit harder to understand than John, but he’s ok, he’s doing well.
A few basics of Zhengzhou, it’s a place few of you will have heard of, but it’s one of the major ancient Chinese cities, the capital of the Hunan province, population of 10 – 11 million, a commercial base for northwest China.
First stop is the Hunan Museum, which is interesting but we don’t need a lot of time there. It’s hot and sticky, and a welcome break back at the hotel is something everyone is looking forward to.
The rooms are average, the hotel is in an area where there isn’t much in the way of food options or shopping, maybe a point to mention to Trip A Deal. The 3 food options are 1 – Hotel, 2 – A Chinese Restaurant, 3 – a Russian restaurant, we opt for the hotel. It’s good except Mark ordered lamb chops, but they were fatty, spicy and inedible, the other dishes were great.
A short walk to check the neighbourhood, I find a massage place and decide on a foot massage to try and ease swollen feet and ankles, they do a good job.
Then I need a sleep, it’s been a big day
Tomorrow we’re off to the Erqui Tower and then Shaolin Temple for lunch and the afternoon, we’ll come back tomorrow night ready to kick the crap out of any potential threats Kung Fu style. This is the place Jet Li filmed his first movie Shaolin Temple – apparently?
Caio for today
At the Shanghai train station – big crowds
Woman Making brooms in Zhengzhou
PRC flag off a building near the Hunan Museum