Day 4: Today began with a traditional Chinese meal served by our kind hostess. It included dumplings, spicy sesame beans, watermelon, and onion/chive scrambled eggs. We then went for a leisurely walk along a small lake for a bit of cultural exploration. The stress increased a bit as we went shopping for our upcoming train ride in a local supermarket. This was definitely a locals market. Identifying foods from label pictures alone was a bit of an adventure.
We were picked up by two cabs and survived the adventurous ride to the train station. Though we had a total of 12 items to transport, including 4 full suitcases, 3 carry-ons, two duffels full of donation stuff, one 2-year old and more, the three of us managed to get everything through an x-ray scanner, and ultimately onto the train. Trust us, this was an extreme accomplishment. The train turned out to be less than a year old, and one of the new electric bullet trains. We smoked on down the tracks to Zhengzhou at over 210 km/hr (around 130 mph)! The scenic trip was enjoyable and took about 5 hours or so, after which we were met by our guide, Celine, at the station. We were taken to a very luxurious looking hotel, the "Sofitel Zhenghzou." Walking into the entryway was quite impressive and grand. However, upon closer inspection (we were wishing we had brought some Tilex with us), the hotel lacked basic cleanliness. We had great take-out from a restaurant down the street, went swimming, and collapsed for the evening. We are so excited about meeting Zi Gui tomorrow morning.As I sit typing this post it is actually 9:30am Monday morning. We leave in 15 minutes for a 5-minute walk to the government offices where we will receive Zi Gui. Wow, off we go!