China - Changsha in Hunan Province and Shaoshan, Mao's Home

From Beijing, we flew to Changsha in Hunan Province.  And here, you get to the real China. It is a much poorer province and city with a lot of pollution caused by thousands of motorbikes.  They are cheap to make, cheap to buy, and are some of the worst polluting vehicles on the roads. The first real smoggy skies and you could tell by the number of people that came down instantly with the sniffles.  What ever could be hauled by a motor bike is and unfortunately, the city suffers as a result. You would see many people carrying goods by hand and even donkeys in use.

In America, you see on the road huge trucks (or tractors depending on where you live) with small trailers where here, you would see these massive trailers pulled by the smallest trucks.

Above is Mao Zedong's former home in Shaoshan, a very popular destination for Chinese tourists. In fact, nearly everyone has their picture taken in front of the house and my Chinese guide insisted on taking my picture.

We had our police escorts in Changsha though we were down to three tour buses and one car. Lights, sirens, and still people really don’t pay attention to the police. In America, people generally move quickly out of the way but in China, not until the police car is on someone’s bumper do they move and sometimes, not even then.  One car got in the way and our bus was a fraction of an inch from putting him into a guard rail.  As the police car would head down the road, cars, busses, and trucks would turn in front of them (you may remember one of my rules of Chinese driving is the first one to the intersection gets it.). At night, people seem to drive with high beams on or no lights at all.  Truly, interesting to see.

Tuesday morning, the 11th we woke to heavy smog in the city. We had a four hour bus ride to Zhangjiajie and while the highway was a four lane interstate type of road for most of the way, it was a bit bumpy.  I chose to just look at the scenery and marvel at drivers who pass on the right in the break down lane. When we finally pulled into the hotel, the staff was there waiting for us and cheered and applauded as we walked in. Then on to another banquet.

The drive up was beautiful. But the problem of the haze over everything made taking pictures very difficult on the bus.

As we got closer to Zhangjiajie, it did clear up quite a bit but I also had to use software on the computer to clean up the images.

So, from here, Zhangjiajie City and the Forest Park.

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