Friday, October 30, 2009

Changsha Day 6 – Friday Oct 30th

Changsha Day 6 – Friday Oct 30th
We’re still getting up about 5:30am each morning. I don’t know what that’s all about but I think we’re both getting enough sleep so it’s okay. Since we move on to Guangzhou this evening we don’t have anything planned for the day other than the packing and preparation for this evening’s flight. It should only last about an hour, but of course you need to be at the airport early etc…

Nora didn’t take a cat nap this morning (since she wasn’t in the carrier) so even though it’s only 11am she’s had her lunch and is now down for a midday nap. Since I have nothing new to share as far as sightseeing I figure I can tell you about some little tidbits and include a few more photos from earlier this week.

One of the things I don’t remember from the last time I was in China what all the car honking (does the others from Group 88 remember that?). It seems to me that the approach that most drivers in Changsha are taking is “I need to be heard and seen by everyone I pass”. The drivers basically have their finger/thumb on the horn the whole time you’re in the car and every car they pass gets a little beep. Some a longer blast if the other driver is looking a bit more dangerous. And they can get their cars in to the tightest spaces; it’s amazing. The observations from the other day’s Museum visit with queuing seem to extend to automobile driving as well. During the drive in from the airport last weekend it was 11pm and not only did the driver honk at each car he passed on the freeway but also flashed his headlights too. From Chongqing (Isabel’s hometown) I remember the sound of the blasting music from the public square near our hotel, this time it will be the constant din of horns (from the 30th floor) 24/7. There also seems to be very few rules for driving.

There are a lot of people in Changsha, although it is not considered a huge city for China, only about 7 million people live here. From what I’ve seen people get around in the following manner: walk, bike, scooters, cars (taxis, hired cars, personal vehicle) and buses. There are major streets (four lanes each way divided by a boulevard) and smaller streets and then alleys that have small shops and business. But there is also what I would call large sidewalk on the major streets and that is where the people walk. but the scooters are also allowed on the sidewalks. The scooter’s dodge in and out of traffic and can either drive on the streets with the cars and buses or sidewalks with the people walking. Also the scooters are all electric; they make no noise at all (but of course all you hear when you’re out there is the honking of the horns). So if you’re crossing the street, you have to watch out for a huge wave of scooters coming right at you.

According to Mamie the guide, Changsha has outlawed any new scooters, there are just too many. So if want a scooter you have to find someone that has a permit you can buy as well as buy the scooter. Similar to Taxi medallions (sp?).
The one other thing that I’ll remember from my week at the Dolton Hotel in Changsha is the incredibly hard bed. I can’t explain to you how hard this bed is and I like a firm bed to begin with, but this is crazy hard. I know that in the summer it is not uncommon for the temperature to be around 107F so maybe they think a harder bed is cooler, but my goodness! Thankfully I sleep on my back.

In the photo with the man carrying bags on a pole across his shoulders, if you look closely just to the left of the garbage can on the sidewalk there's a child that just finished peeing. I've seen it a couple of time in the park too.. just pull down the pants and go.


  1. You are probably in the air as I write this. I hope your travel goes well and that your next room has a comfy bed! I am glad you are getting enough sleep. That is what every new parent strives for. I hope it continues! I think about what gets thrown at adoptive! Lack of sleep, site seeing, a baby with her routine upset, legal stuff, and much more. I am sure you will be glad to get back to the comforts of home and settling into your new routine. For now, enjoy the present moment. We are enjoying your story.

  2. Julie and I do not remember a lot of honking, but in Chongqing we were situated on that plaza where the cars were routed away from our normal walking paths to the store and supermarket. Then on Guangzhou we were on Shamien and that too is atypically devoid of traffic. I do remember the crazy traffic and lack of rules. Mostly I remember the bus driver who had a cricket for good luck. I also remember trying not to look at the traffic when we were on our many bus trips. Particalarily when we were in Guangzhou. So hope your trip to Guangzhou goes well. We are all set for Isabel and have worked out a plan with Simone. We are really looking forward to it.