Shi Du: Our Hotel
After hiking and punting, most of us just wanted to relax back at our hotel. So we returned there on foot (it was only three blocks away from the river) and settled in. Here’s a quick tour of the place.
The rooms were mostly on the second floor overlooking a central, covered courtyard where all group dining and socializing took place.
For the most part, we split rooms male/female. This was the guys room. The huge beds normally slept 4-5 people.
Ethan demonstrating that the mattresses were merely a thin pad covering wooden planks. Interestingly enough, in the winter people will put coal in the hole at the bottom to keep warm. Not sure I'd want to try that.
To pass the time, a group of us played Ma Jiang. It’s a lot like gin rummy but with Chinese tiles instead of cards. I really enjoy Ma Jiang and would love to play it more often. It also is good for practicing Chinese numbers and few characters.
Ready to go for a game of Ma Jiang.
Hey, whose team are you on?
During the day, the hotel staff did laundry. It was very interesting to observe their washing process. Electricity was an afterthought for many Chinese buildings, and so they are not built with enough outlets. This results in massive reliance upon extension cords. Normally that’s not an issue, but we saw a few problems with their laundry set-up that they may want to address, especially when guests need to walk directly through the set-up.
See, the hotel did take precautions while doing laundry. They balanced the extension cord on top of a tub so that it wasn't sitting directly in the water.
The extension cord in the first picture was plugged into this one here. For about an hour, guests had to jump these cords to get in and out of the courtyard.
Drying the laundry.
The hotel served us four wonderful meals during our stay. We were very pleased with the quality and quantity. No one went hungry. We always ate in the courtyard on small stools positioned around a set of folding tables pushed together.
Meals at the hotel were always delicious!
In the evening, the hotel did a big bonfire in the parking lot. A large group of college students, who were also staying at the hotel, danced in circles around the fire. They then proceeded to blast music from a karaoke machine while a television played what seemed like soft-core porn movies. Eventually, they quieted down a bit and went to socialize in the courtyard leaving the fire to the rest of us. We had a few beers and a lot of laughs.
The first flames inspired the college kids to grab hands and run in circles around the fire.
All in all the trip was a great success. Tian and her colleagues worked hard to organize and coordinate it. It was a great opportunity to get outside of Beijing and to build relationships with her co-workers.