Changsha was a change from other Chinese cities I’ve been to.
For starters, we saw only 5 other foreigners. Usually at food places there is some English or pictures, but barely any place had either.
It’s also funny. For some reason, they think if we can’t speak Chinese then we can read it. I hate to tell them….no, that’s not true, it’s more like I wish I could convey to them that in the case of Manadrin, speaking is easier.
It’s even funnier because, with me, one could argue that they think I’m Chinese in some way, but her? I have some foreign friends that don’t look Asian and speak Chinese, but I think they are the exception and not the rule.
Anyways, we stayed in 2 places in Changsha. We booked the 1st place because we thought it was IN the airport. Even my maps (maps.me) showed it in the airport.
Well, a nice woman called them for us and they brought a shuttle car for us. It’s about 5 minutes away (Rado Hotel).
The owner actually spoke English and was very nice. The room was decent, but extremely hard beds, small towels, and…. a squat toilet with the shower head over it.
M wasn’t so thrilled by this. I wanted to take a photo because I found it hilarious, but forgot.
The next day, we took a public bus to the city center for 2 RMB. The shuttle bus from the airport is about 17 for the same time (an hour).
The owner’s brother dropped us off at the stop and we followed my GPS for out stop, which was next to our next hotel of 7Days Inn. This is a huge chain and in Changsha there are like 10.
The staff couldn’t speak English, but we checked in with no problem and, much to M’s delight, there was a western toilet!
For me, my delight was having an actual shower stall so when one showered the whole bathroom didn’t get wet (common in Asia).
We dropped our bags and headed to Changsha’s main attraction, Yulieu mountain.
There really isn’t anything to do here….especially not for foreigners. But it was our jumping off point to Zhangjiaje, which I’ll explain in the next post.
We hiked an hour up to the top of the mountain. Actually, there are many rutes to the top, one being a cable car, but I think, somehow, we managed to pick the hardest.
But it was worth it in terms of not being with people and we can enjoy nature.
We also bought this fruit, that I can’t remember the name, and M started having a small allergic reaction, but pushed through it to enjoy the fruit. For me, I was worried she was going to die so glad she didnt! Haha
At the top, I admit, I was disappointed, only because it was full of different restaurants and souvenir shops. It was like we were back in the city. There is a view point at the highest peak, but it has turned into some type of love area (bunch of hearts and love lockets).
We walked around, going downhill in the process, seeing tombs, memorials, and temples.
This mountain was the site of a major or several major battles against the Japanese during WW2. But there were also tombs for people who had died before then.
At the bottom, there is one of China’s oldest academies founded in 926, I believe.
We paid 25 RMB (student) to enter and walk around. It took us an hour.
It was lovely and near the end, was full of recent graduates taking photos.
It’s really funny because they were dressed in traditional American cap and gown. Even Europeans don’t have that.
But since we exited a different way we got a bit lost.
I was tired and a bit hungry so I got irritated with the situation, but M remained calm enough to figure out our next move.
We took a bus 3 stops to the bridge and then walked halfway to the island where there was a metro.
The bridge was scary because they allowed motorbikes on the sidewalk and they weren’t going slow either. Luckily we were on the side that they were coming towards us so we could see when to jump out of the way.
As much as China is developed, it’s still not a first world country and I don’t believe they will be taking over the world anytime soon.
Anyways, we made it back near our hotel ad had dinner at this buffet type place. You got a bowl of rice and was able to put as much food as you wanted on it for 12 RMB. I had something similar in Malaysia, but there you paid per item.
It was quite delicious and they gave us wonton soup as well.
The next day, we went back to the island, Orange Island, as it used to hold many orange trees, and walked around. It took us over 2 hours to walk to the statue of Mao (leader during the 70s/80s) and back. We walked around 10 km alone on this island.
Mao is a big figure in this city because he went to that academy as well as grew up in a small town near Changsha. I think many Chinese make pilgrimages here since they highly respect him….personally, I don’t really understand why, but that’s a whole other history.
Changsha also boasts a pedestrian street full of modern day stores, but off this street, one can find small alley ways of little restaurants and such.
We popped down one and picked a small stand with pictures. We had more noodles and the owner ended up taking a “sneak” photo of us. I think she was just excited 2 foreigners were eating at her stand.
The noodles were delicious per norm (though greasy, per norm). Actually, my Malaysian friend told me that if he sees a bunch of Chinese tourists around one restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, he doesn’t go there because it means the food is very greasy and oily. Chinese people just like this.
My 2 breakfast sandwiches were super greasy as well.
Our bus to Zhangjiaje was at 16 or 4 pm so we gathered our things back at the hotel and headed to the bus station.
While waiting, M bought an ice cream and the guy put his fingers together then apart. Later, we realized it meant 5, but I don’t know why he just didn’t show 5 with his hands like everyone else (even other Chinese have done this, as if they were giving us a high five).
Then, there was a piece of trash under my seat at the station and the janitor wouldn’t leave me alone until I moved seats for that one piece of trash. I get he has a job, but he could have come back 5 minutes late and I would have been gone.
Meanwhile, M made a friend who happened to be on our bus and spoke a decent amount of English. She also assumed M could read, but not speak Mandarin.
She was overly helpful and I think part of it was her excitement to speak English, but….we have made it this far without the help (i.e. telling us we can put our bags in the overhead compartment of the bus).
This isn’t just a Chinese thing. Most people think the foreigner to their country doesn’t know much. My own cousin did this to me in the Philippines about the clothing store H&M. I felt a little rude telling her that was a major clothing store in the world from Sweden….
Speaking of toilets….I went to the bathroom at the statiin. The great thing about China is the abundance of public toilets that are usually quite clean and sometimes with toilet paper.
Again, most of the time in public areas there are only or majority are squat toilets. At this station, it was squat, but you squatted over a canal with running water towards one hole. It was an experience for sure.
The bus was actually quite nice. Lots of trash bins were provided. I think for the spitting more than the actual trash. I us figured that China spent a lot of one improving infrastructure for trains and planes that they might have slacked on buses since they don’t have a lot of bus travel from city to city (takes way to long), but the bus, like I said, was decent.
Anyways, if you have to go to Changsha, one day is sufficient.
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