Wednesday was pretty much a "free" day. We did have the option of going on a tour of the countryside. We opted to go and we're glad we did. It was quite an experience. At 10:00 am we boarded the bus and made our way through Changsha. I probably should tell you a bit about Changsha first so you can get the full picture. Changsha is a bustling large beautiful city. Jackie (our local guide) told us there were 6 million people living in Changsha. I think. The parts of the city that we have seen are really beautiful. Beautiful tree lined streets with lots of shops...think Boston's Back Bay with an Asian flair. There are lots of tall buildings. Our hotel being the tallest in Changsha at 44 floors (we're on the 33rd). Traveling through Changsha was fun and quite the adventure. There's no real traffic laws here. You sort of just go and hope you don't hit anyone. We've been sitting in the front of the bus each day and get a bird's eye view of the chaos.
About thirty minutes outside Changsha we arrived in a small town. It was an average looking town with shops and lots of people milling around. We traveled a bit through the center and then took a right turn down a little dirt road and BAM we were in the countryside. It was weird. It would be like coming from Boston to Braintree and taking a right at the South Shore Plaza and ending up in a poor farm area. We pulled in to our destination which was the family home of some locals. When we arrived both Grandparents were waiting out front for us. Three generations occupy the home...grandparents, their son, his wife, and the grandson. Just the Grandparents are there now as the rest of the family are working elsewhere where they can make better money. Money is then sent home to support the Grandparents.
Their house is tiny, only three rooms. First we entered the living room. It had a small round table with tea, hot and waiting for us, a television and a picture of Mao Zedong. Mao was from Hunan so it is very common to see pictures of his likeness here (Changsha is the capital of Hunan province). To the right of the living room was the bedroom. It had two beds and hung over it was a picture of their son and his wife on their wedding day and a little picture of the grandson as a baby tucked in to the corner of the frame. That's it...two beds, one picture. Next we went into the kitchen/utility area. There was a small electric burner in the corner which I think was the only stove, a big wok on a counter and a dried fish hanging from the ceiling. The house was very tidy but I couldn't help but feel sad at how poor these people were. It really puts things in to perspective. We have so much and they have so little. It hardly seems fair. Our hosts could not have been friendlier or more gracious. Grandma seemed to take a liking to Grace and she kept touching her face and talking to her in Chinese. Grace liked her too. It was sweet to watch them together. After we visited inside their home we walked through their garden and around the village area a bit. Their was a large lagoon type area with raw sewage in it and next to that a bountiful garden with many vegetable growing. The area is very poor. It was quite humbling being there. I kept imagining Grace's town and what it must be like there. If just 30 minutes outside of a major city you have this then what must it be like four hours from it? Heartbreaking to think about.
After our visit to the countryside we made our way back to the hotel. We decided to just chill in our room until dinner and feed Grace the food I scoffed from the breakfast buffet for lunch. It was a great afternoon. We played and napped and just hung out with our girl. I tell ya' she's the sweetest kid in the whole world. Just a little love bug. She loves to have her belly rubbed when she's having a diaper change. And those feet! They are some cute baby feet for sure. I love kissing them and she loves having them kissed. She's cute with a capital C.
After dinner we decided it was time for her very first bath. We waited a few days to do this so as not to stress her out too much. What's a little dirt, right? Well no need to worry about bath time stressing Grace out. She loves the bath....a lot. Splashing, cooing, giggling all come naturally to this water baby. I think we need to move....to a house with a pool or maybe we'll just be spending lots of time at her cousin's house splashing around in their pool. Won't that be fun!
**More pictures uploaded in the March 7th album