We're at the Majestic Hotel in Nanning! Not quite as exciting as the last two times I was in Nanning -- for Zoe's and Maya's adoptions -- but it's pretty exciting nonetheless.
Our flight left Xiamen around 4:30 this afternoon; we got to the airport really early because it was raining and I wasn't sure what traffic would be like. So we had a 2-hour wait for our flight. Luckily, there's a play place at the Xiamen airport and the girls had a ball in the ball pit. The time really passed quickly for them.
When we got to our gate, I realized for the first time that our flight to Nanning was not nonstop -- we'd be stopping in Shenzhen (we flew on an e-ticket, and all I knew was the departure time!). It wasn't much of a lay-over -- maybe 20 minutes. And we left Xiamen a little late so it was 8 p.m. before we made it to Nanning, and 9 p.m. before we hit the lobby of the Majestic.
The ride into the city center from the airport is just as I remember it -- miles and miles of a virtually empty 4-lane expressway. And then we hit the city center. The first thing that struck me was the bikes and motor bikes. They are EVERYWHERE! I'd forgotten the infestation of 2-wheel vehicles in Nanning, since we don't see anywhere near that many in Xiamen. Our guide, Dennis, who picked us up from the airport, tells me that there are 500,000 licensed motor bikes in Nanning, with a population of 2 million. He says that 5 years ago the city government stopped issuing permits for motor bikes, but it'll be years before the number really starts to drop.
It struck me as we were flying here that the "Nan" in Nanning must mean "south" -- after all, we live near Da'nan, the university's south gate. And that's next to Nanputuo, which means south temple. And the road outside the gate is Siming Nan Lu, which is South Siming Street. Dennis confirmed it -- Nan means south and ning means peace. Nanning was the emperors' wish for a peaceful border land in the south.
The Majestic is just as we remembered it -- the marbled foyer and the fountain, and the staircase where we posed for many a picture. We'll have to recreate those moments later. Our first priority was getting to our room and COLLAPSING! It's not like traveling around the world to get here, but travel is tiring even when it's a short hop.
The girls were thrilled to see a bathtub in our hotel room. It's been 3 months since they've had a bath -- all we have in Xiamen is a shower. The first thing we did this evening was take a bubble bath.
The real adventure starts tomorrow. We meet our guide at 9:30 a.m. to go to Mother's Love. We need to check out of the Majestic, but leave our big suitcase here and just take enough for one night, because we leave for Guiping as soon as we finish at Mother's Love. Then Tuesday in Guiping, and back to the Majestic in Nanning. And on Wednesday we take the train to Guilin -- I'm really looking forward to going on the train!
It's almost 11 p.m., and the girls have conked out. Ah, peace in the south! I'm not far behind them. I'll post more when I can.