We decided to take advantage of it and spend some time outside. There is a park a ways down the road that we visited last time we were here and we knew the girls would love it. We are also in a different hotel than last time, so it was going to be a little bit farther hike. But, we had a new option this time around: the subway! Zhengzhou has changed so much in the last four years, even though we are relatively in the same area, that there is very little that looks the same. A massive building campaign has been going on which includes large, multi-level expressways and a subway system. The first of five lines is completed and conveniently, it runs right along the road where our hotel is. We decided to try it. (This is not actually as adventurous as it sounds since we had already figured out the Guongzhou subway system and the ticket machines have an English option.)
But first, we needed to get ready to go, and this included doing hair. I consider it no small improvement that Y. agreed to let me do her hair for her. I am no hair stylist, but I managed to do this with her super-short haircut.
And then we off. We navigated the subway and arrived at the park. The first thing we came across was an open area where many small children and their parents or grandparents were playing, many of them playing with fancy bubble wands. Y. and R. looked highly interested, so J. went to find the vendor. For 20 cents US, he was able to make the girls' day by giving them their own.
Y. when she realizes that her dad bought her one.
Y. and R. - They've been getting along a little better today.
We spent the rest of morning wandering around and enjoying the weather.
A pigeon coop
We found some lunch and meandered back to the hotel. We leave tomorrow for Guongzhou and this means that all the items that exploded out of the suitcase must somehow be crammed back in. We have also acquired more items, so there was a brief moment when we wondered if yet another trip to Walmart was going to be needed to purchase another suitcase. I think we've made it work. I hope. The suitcases are not closed yet, and since they need to be outside our room at 7:30 am, it will be a little too early (or a little too late?) to go get another one.
The other big news is that R.'s passport was delivered this afternoon. She is set to get her visa and head home. But wait, there's more big news. A half an hour later, we got a phone call that Y.'s visa had just been delivered to the hotel. Hooray! This is a big load off my mind as I wasn't quite sure that Xin Jiang province was quite on board with the need to process her passport quickly. Both girls are now good to go. One huge step down.
To celebrate (and because we needed to), we headed to Walmart. I'm pretty sure our new girls think that our sole purpose for living is to go to Walmart. P. can't figure out why we just can't get everything we need at one time and be done with it. (Hey, don't judge. It's something to do, especially when the weather is rotten.) To entertain herself on our needless (in P.'s opinion) trips to Walmart, she invented a new game. It's kind of like her own little Amazing Race challenge. The store is on two floors, with a funny inclined moving sidewalk that moves people between them. (It's so shoppers can take their grocery carts on it... stair steps, like an escalator, wouldn't work.) Anyway, on either side of the moving walkway are bins with special deals so shoppers can see them and do a little impulse shopping as they ride between floors. P.'s game is to see how many of these items she can return to the correct bin on the ride up or down. Once Y. figured out what P. was doing, Y. decided to add to the challenge by handing yet more items to P. to repatriate. It was pretty hilarious. In fact, it was so hilarious that none of us realized that the end of the moving walkway was coming up and there was a brief pile of ridiculous Americans at the top for a moment. As far as I know no one took any pictures.
After picking up the few things we needed, we stopped at our new favorite take-out food stand. We bought these:
We couldn't read the sign, so the first time we tried it had no idea what it was. It is yummy... and cheap. Five of these set us back 25 RMB. (The exchange rate is currently ~6.2 RMB to the dollar, I'll let you do the math.) We later found out later that they are Chinese hamburgers. The bread on the outside is like a panini while the filling is chopped (not ground) meat with peppers that they grill right there while you wait.
Now that we've got ourselves sorted out here, it's time to move on. Guangzhou, warmer weather, and many visa-related appointments are soon to come.
(Look for a couple of other posts in the next day or two. There are several other things I want to write about, but to put them all in one long post would be too much, even for me.)