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Off to ZhangJiaJie – Day 1

The weather was hot. We finally had our passports back. We were ready for a break.

We discussed various options, but one-by-one they didn’t work out… Mongolia (need a visa), Shanghai (been there), Taiwan (typhoon Morakot), Jiuzhaigou (rain), Staycation (Hubs vetoed this one), Korea (maybe in the fall), Hong Kong Disney (hot weather), Lijiang (monsoon season), Xinjiang (rioting).

At last, we just decided to take a short break in August and hopefully take another break in the fall.

In 1982, ZhangJiaJie was recognized as China’s first national park. So in the minds of many Chinese, this is their “Yellowstone” or “Grand Canyon”.

Since we live only a five hour train ride away, we decided this would be an ideal break.

On Sunday, we packed everything into a single roller suitcase and took a taxi to the train station all the while chanting our Berenstain Bears mantra:
“Hooray! Hooray! We’re on our way! Our summer vacation starts today!”

Sandra: Let’s go mountain climbing!
Schäfer: No! First we go on the train ride!

Our train arrived late. There was no A/C in the train station, but once we got moving the heat was a little better.

We found a great set of transportation paper cuts at the 2 Kuai store. Schäfer loved having new cars and we loved not worrying if we lost one of them.

We all love a train ride. I could feel us all decompress as we exited the concrete jungle and headed out into the lush countryside.

We also picked up a set of Chinese playdough for less than $1. Schäfer loved making “Veggie Tales” with Papa.

After 5 hours of playdough, books and paper cut-out cars, we arrived in ZhangJiaJie. For some reason, it reminded Sandra of Salzburg: the lake, the church steeple on the waterfront, the mountains in the background, the long bridge, etc.

They have a gorgeous new train station! (I personally love the train platforms that are level with the doors of the cars vs. walking down the steep train car stairs.) Ironically, the escalators were turned off resulting in plenty of tourists lugging their stuff down three flights of stairs. “Hooray! Hooray! We’re on our way! Our summer vacation starts today!”

On our way out of the train station, we see a cable car that passes overhead. Schäfer is excited!

We check into our favorite Chinese chain hotel, Home Inn. Our membership card gets us 50% off the rack rate. Plus their rooms are always the same: clean, brightly colored, no nasty TV channels, free breakfast and a 3 gallon water dispenser.

When we checked in Schäfer said, “Are we gonna check into the hotel like Goofy and Mickey?” This is a reference to one of his books “Goofy Takes Off: An Adventure in Switzerland” where they do, in fact, check into a hotel.

Home Inn bathrooms always have this bright, cheery yellow tile on the floor and in the shower. In fact, I would dare call this color “Ikea yellow.”

That evening we felt a bit tired, so we just grabbed some fruit and yogurt, ate in the hotel room and got Schäfer down to sleep.

Day 1 completed. But what fun awaits us in the morn!

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