Noilly Prattle: China - Winter 2016 (A chilling experience)

Friday, April 1, 2016

China - Winter 2016 (A chilling experience)

Hongqaio Airport
working on my notes
     We took the Line 2 subway from People's Square to Shanghai Hongqiao Airport. There was an ingenious promotional ad on the subway wall depicting a red dragon composed of consumer products. The 4-hour flight on China Eastern Airlines from Hongqiao to Dali was uneventful until the approach to Dali Airport when high winds gusting off the mountains buffeted the aircraft for a rather bumpy and tense descent and landing (one poor woman had to use an airsick bag). As prearranged, we were met at the airport by a driver from our hotel, the Ji Rui Hotel. 

look closely and you will see the myriad products
cunningly integrated into the design

windmills on hills
       During the approach and landing, despite the buffeting, I noticed many windmills and solar collectors dotting the hillsides. I wondered how much the region was trying to develop renewable energy sources. As we headed into the new city of Dali (called Xiaguan by locals) along the southern shore of Erhai Lake we passed many seemingly abandoned construction sites for large condo complexes many with loose protective tarpaulins torn from the scaffolding and flapping in the wind. They look like ghost towns as a Japanese acquaintance who lives in Dali old town we met later told us. They are apparently government funded housing projects that have come to a halt as a result of the recent downturn in the growth of the Chinese economy.

Erhai Lake - many of the buildings in the background are unfinished and empty  

our driver to the Ji Rui
the Ji Rui Hotel
        It was rush hour and traffic was heavy with bottlenecks impeding progress. The driver did a U-turn at one point to try another approach and we got bogged down in another bottleneck, but we finally arrived at the hotel. The Ji Rui was a charming old style Chinese inn. The hotel desk clerk, a young woman, spoke reasonable English and we were able to understand her and be understood by her. The location of the hotel (which did not serve meals), however, outside the old town wall was quite a long walk to restaurants, shops, etc. We were too tired by then to undertake the walk so went without dinner. Then we were quite dismayed to discover that the room was unheated. The temperature plunges quickly at night and, being old, the building was very drafty, especially with the high gusts of wind that kept buffeting it. There was also much dust borne on the high winds that seeped in through the cracks of the old window frames and walls that left a fine film on our computers and most everything else. Fortunately, there was an electric blanket on the bed but we spent a cold uncomfortable evening shivering and discussing what we should do given the downsides of the otherwise charming hotel.  

sleeping area - bed has an electric blanket
door had to barred
from the inside to lock it

the huge bathroom - latticed windows later
proved to have a nice view of the mountains

this type of ceramic bowl lavatory
 is common in old hotels in China

the sitting area of our room in the Ji Rui Hotel

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