During my four-month stay in China in 2017, I, along with my aunt and her friend, joined a four-day tour to visit the region of Zhangjiajie in Hunan Province. On the final day of the tour, we visited Phoenix, an ancient city built along a river, kind of like Venice. I remember the arrival to Phoenix perfectly even though I was half asleep.
We had spent the previous afternoon visiting a Miao village which was well-known for its edible silver. By edible, I mean you can drink from a silver cup or eat out of a silver bowl and not be poisoned. Trust me, I was confused too when the guide said to us the first time.
After the tour and before we knew it, it was dark and time for dinner. We dined with the Miao people that night, eating foods of their culture and of the region. I didn’t eat much, not because I didn’t like the food, it’s because the ladies at our table grabbed all the food before I had the chance. That was one of the worst parts of the tour. When meal time arrived, the moment the food came, as if rehearsed, the ladies all reached for the food with their chopsticks at the same time. A moment later, the food on the plates were nearly gone.
Anyway, we didn’t depart from the Miao village until about 8 PM that night. By then, I was so exhausted I fell asleep the moment I got on the bus. Around two hours later, my aunt woke me by shaking me. I glanced around after I got off the bus. “Where are we?” I asked, rubbing my eyes.
“Phoenix,” my aunt replied.
The bus driver unloaded our luggage from the bus. “Get your bags and follow me,” the tour guide said.
“Wait,” I said, “isn’t someone going to carry our bags to the hotel?” Our bags had magically appeared in the hotel lobby each of the previous nights. Apparently not tonight.
After carrying our luggage down a flight of steep stairs, we arrived at the river bank. It was not easy wheeling a suitcase along the stone bridge. The suitcase kept flipping over due to the ground not being flat. Ahead, I could hear the ladies whining, “I did not spend $1000 RMB on a suitcase to be rolled around on this type of ground.”
“How much farther?” I asked my aunt. Even though we’ve been walking for only a few minutes, my arms and legs were tired from the long day’s walk. She shrugged, don’t know. At that moment, all I wanted to do was to soak my aching feet in hot water, plop onto a bed, and sleep.
At last, we arrived at the door of a hotel. From my first impression, it looked more like a restaurant than a hotel. It seemed the hotels had been degrading throughout the tour. But at that moment, I didn’t care whether it was a motel or a barn. I just wanted to shut my eyes and fly off to dream land.
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