Arrived in Kaifeng at 7:am and fought our way off the train through the thousands of embarking passengers with all our luggage - an adventure! To our hotel for a day of much needed leisure. Our hotel, the Kaifeng Hotel, was built in 1954 of traditional Chinese style and I've got a nice big room - out the back window is pretty seedy though! No English language TV. Next door is a Western Cafe that opens at 9:30 am - we were so thrilled to have a Western breakfast - Earl Gray Tea, a delicious waffle with butter and honey and a beautiful fruit plate.
Kaifeng is an ancient city on the Huang River - Population is 4.3 million, 700,000 live in urban areas. City is 2,700 years old and was the capital from 364BC til 1233 during 7 dynasties. It was a center for political, economic and cultural activity. The city is full of historic sites, some ancient and some recreated as the Imperial Street, a representation of a scene from the Song Dynasty. With Richard, Chris and Carly, I visited the Grand Xiangguo Monastery, one of the most famous Buddhist Monasteries in China. Originally had 64 halls and housed over 1,000 monks. It was first built in 555 and all of the Emperors thought highly of the monastery and it was enlarged many times. It was flooded and damaged by war. In 1671 the Qing Dynasty Emperor renovated it and several halls survive. Full of hundreds of Arahts (life size figures with avid expressions) And of course huge Buddhas of every description. I bought Bob a reclining Buddha which will bring him riches.
Relaxed this afternoon with a foot massage and tonight met the group to visit the Night Market. That was an adventure - thousands of people - everything for sale from combs to toys to some pretty gross looking food. We tried several things - a lamb and veggie and potato fried thing that was actually pretty good, a green bean dish that is mashed with water and was real tasty. And then there was Spiced Chicken - whole chicken with head and feet - yuk. Lots of whole fish and eel and offal. Remember I mentioned the cicadas earlier - they eat them! Those nasty little bugs that make such an awful noise were on skewers - 8 or 10 of them. I had corn on the cob! All foods were between 1 and 10 yuan (remember 8yuan = $1.00) Sam told us not to eat the fish (don't worry!) there's no sea around here so nothing is fresh - no refrigeration for the hours these meats, fish and fruits sit outside! Caroline, Hans and I ended the evening with KFC!! 18.50yuan ($2.20) Most typical Chinese dinners have been 25yuan ($3.00)
FYI: All our hotel rooms have had electric teapots and green tea; No flushing of toilet paper anywhere in China-sewer system can't handle; All beds are HARD-I think they just use the box springs and no mattress. My bones are aching! We've seen NO Westerners since we left Shanghai - we once heard English being spoken and got all excited; they were from Israel.