After a full work day Saturday the team furiously rushed back to the rooms to clean up for our evening on the town. We caught a bus into the center of Hengyang (we are actually staying on the outskirts). There we split into groups; some of us hit up the local KFC and others a “western” style pizza parlor. I was among the KFC group. The young girl who took my order asked, in English where we were from and when I told her America, she said, “Welcome to China.” The menu items were a bit strange and the food didn’t taste exactly like home, but it was close enough to calm our cravings. It was cheap too. A bucket of chicken, soda, corn and biscuits was $9 American. I ordered nuggets and Pepsi for about $2.50. It was a little odd to see the locals eating their chicken wearing plastic gloves. Of course we attracted much attention. One group of Chinese teens who spoke English asked where we were from, what we were doing in Hengyang and if they could have our MSN identifications or email addresses. After dinner we headed to McDonalds for ice cream. There we were assaulted by very persistent beggars, they would not go away. Fortunately we outlasted them. The ice cream tasted just like home, but mine had purple swirls which was very cool since purple is my favorite color. After dinner we roamed the city streets checking out the local shops. We searched for a karaoke bar but they are quite different here, you pay for individual rooms. We didn’t see the fun in that; we wanted to absorb the culture. After buying new luggage for a team member whose wheel fell off, we managed to catch the right bus back to our hotel. We did all of this without the assistance of our guide. Arriving back at our hotel we stumbled upon a street dance and joined in the merriment, it was fun! A local fellow even asked one of our team members to dance, she accepted. They “cut a rug” rather well.
Fireworks here are easy to buy with no restrictions regarding setting them off. Two team members have birthdays during our time in China so we bought a strand and celebrated by lighting them in the street. No appendages were lost during the process.
Today we chartered a bus and drove to the sacred mountain, Nanyue Hengshan. Had we chosen to hike up the mountain, it would’ve been a three hour trip. Being a bit overzealous, I wanted to hike the whole way. Fortunately my team mates vetoed that idea. Instead we took a bus half way, a trolley car and then climbed lots of stairs to the top. There were two temples. It was odd to see people making the pilgrimage to worship there. One of the shrines was very oppressive; the “worship” bothered many of the team members myself included. The scenery was breathtaking; we snapped lots of amazing photos. Shopping at the stands was fun since the shop keepers are willing to barter. Since none of us speak Chinese we used pen and paper to write down numbers. Everyone bought at least one item to bring home. Dinner was at a local restaurant, there were at least ten dishes, serving 18 people at a cost of about $55 American total, very cheap. The locals loved seeing Americans. We were stopped numerous times throughout the day to have our pictures taken by Chinese young adults. Not only did they want pictures of us, but photos with us. We thought all the attention was hysterically funny.
We had a really great time absorbing the local culture. And by the way, my laundry from yesterday? Still not dry.