From the Arch to the Great Wall

12. Zhengzhou, Henan

Zhengzhou at Night

After lunch we went to a crystal and jade shop called Dianmond Profit (catch the typo? I thought it was funny) and looked around. I looked aimlessly around and saw a bunch of people crowding around the sofa. I walked over and noticed a cute puppy hiding in the corner of the sofa. Everybody spaced out a little and eventually the puppy became friendly and walked among us. I think it was a stray because the shop employees did not care much for it; they watched it walk out the door without making a move.

We endured a two hour drive and finally arrived in Zhenzhou and checked into the Jianguo Hotel. Zhengzhou, city in eastern China, capital of Henan (Ho-nan) Province. It is an important railroad and industrial center in the Huang He (Yellow River) valley at the western edge of the Huabei Pingyuan (North China Plain). Major manufactures include cotton textiles, machinery, electric equipment, aluminum, and processed food. A monument in the old city commemorates a famous railroad strike here in 1926. Founded during the Shang (Yin) dynasty (1766-1027BC), the city was known (1913-1949) as Cheng-hsien. After suffering heavy damage from floods in the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), it was rebuilt and systematically developed as a major industrial metropolis. It replaced Kaifeng as the capital of Henan in 1954.

Haibo said Jianguo Hotel was a 3-star hotel but it seemed more like a 4- or 4.5-star hotel. It was comparable to the Xian hotel and almost up there with the Holiday Inn. I had a corny joke with some friends about how sleeping at the Luoyang hotel was like sleeping on rocks with a layer of moss on top; it was not the case here. We got a short break before dinner so Jason and I went to go look at cell phones. I saw a few good ones but the saleslady said they were either dual band or not for sale so I couldnt buy any.

Dinner tonight was at a really nice hotel. Inside the lobby there was a jade carving of a ship that was at least the size of a small car and if I remembered the prices from the jade factory correctly, I think it was estimated around 10,000 USD. Some of the better dishes were the beef and squid. The sauces in each of those dishes were really good when drizzled over rice. Since everyone got such a small amount of soda at each meal, a tradition started around the second day of buying another bottle of soda. Tonight they ran out of bottles so I bought a can and Pete bought a can and everybody split that. I felt a bit better after that; it was awkward to always mooch soda and not chip in for a round.

After dinner we got back to the room and found the covers turned back and the room cleaned but unchanged. Jason and I were really scared until we found out that the maid did our room in the evening. It was unexpected, scary, and really nice at the same time. Most of the usual crew of friends went to go look for CDs and DVDs; Darryl, Joe, Jason, and I ended up at an internet bar.

At this point in the trip I was feeling pretty good. I knew that the rest of the cities were going to be great and that there would be cool things to do in those cities. Also at this point in the trip I started to miss America and all the things about home like driving, steaks, and clean tap water. Everyday things like that really come as a luxury in China. Steaks are an American food so that was no surprise but it was surprising to think that amidst the electronic and technological advancements in China, clean tap water was nowhere to be found. Here in the US, many kids get a car when they turn 16 and are free to drive to school, work, and gatherings with friends. In China, many kids walk and young adults may opt for a bike or scooter. As mentioned before, traffic is rough and driving is usually more of a hassle than a benefit. This is another example of how China has many ups and downs.

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