We arrived in China at 11p.m tired. We had to go through customs to get a 24 hour visa so we could leave the airport. The airline had a car waiting and a hotel paid for and ready to go for us. We got to the hotel, which was nicer than I expected or have experienced in awhile, but this is not to say it was great. The beds were rock hard. I am pretty sure it was just a wooden board over springs. But there was hot water and air conditioning! And no bugs! We woke up the next morning and headed out into the city to explore. This proved far more difficult than I expected. NO ONE spoke English and we were ill prepared. We hadn't learned one word in Chinese or bothered to look up the exchange rate. We needed money to eat but had a hard time finding a bank that would take our cards and figuring out how much Yuan we need to get out. We were lost. We finally found a man who told us that 650 Yuan equals $100. That was a strange way to put it, but it was helpful. We got out around $30 and began to walk around the area. We were afraid at first to get too far from the hotel because no one would be able to help us find our way if we did get lost. We found a clothes market and entertained ourselves there for awhile before heading down the main road where we saw the strangest game being played. It was like something at a fair. There were all these little cages with bunnies, guinea pigs, or birds in rows. People had to throw rings and get it underneath the cage to win the animal. Who goes out in the morning and on a whim gets a pet because they won it on the street? Seemed like you were looking for a big commitment every time you threw the ring.
We kept walking and saw the subway and decided to see if it was do-able. It was! We figured it out easily and headed 9 stops away to Yuexiu Park. This is a huge park with lots of stuff to do. Its full of winding paths and trees. There's a gigantic pool and an amusement park in the center. It was really only about 6 fair quality rides, but it was fun. I rode the swings and had a blast. We ate some popcorn and ice cream and walked around for awhile.
Back out on the street Jeff had a corn on the cob from a vendor. I tried to get some chestnuts, but I must have done something wrong because the lady got mad at me and wouldn't give me any. No nuts for me. There were some beggars on the street with some very scary ailments. We decided to get back on the subway and try another stop. We got off at one that said Cultural Park. It wasn't. It was a barren field surrounded by big buildings. We got straight back on the subway and headed back to our stop, where we found a McDonalds and ate a snack. We hadn't been able to find a place to eat all day that looked safe or had a menu we could read.
We walked around some more and found the biggest and neatest market. It was full of stalls selling all sorts of weird foods. Lots of vegetables and fruits. I bought 3 tiny mangoes. There were butchers chopping up chickens and pigs. There were fish mongers. The fish were alive when they start to fillet it for a customer. They pull it out of the tank and with in a minute the fish is in pieces ready to cook. We saw stands selling live frogs, turtles, and snakes. We watched a guy kill a cobra, cut off its head, then skin it for a customer. There were tons of spices and grains in big burlap sacks. It was fun taking pictures of all the weirdness. This market was my favorite part of the day.
We headed back to the hotel to clean up before our ride back to the airport. Our flight from China was 13 hours to Los Angeles. Then a quick flight home to Arizona. We are home now and happy to be with Jeff's parents where we have pillows, good food, and people who love us! Welcome home us!