A small, barely audible knock on my door again. This one is about 30 minutes after she had knocked the first time to see if I wanted my room cleaned. She must have heard my sniffling and coughing—seen my misery, for she had returned with a scalding cup of hot ginger and honey tea for me, accompanied by kind words, “Hot ginger. For cold.” I was floored and bowed adn repeated xiexie over and over. I don’t know if she understood when I mumbled that both the air pollution and cigarette smoke had made me sick, “okay”.
When we arrived last night, I instantly fell in the love with this “boutique” hotel. Heavily decorated with live greenery, and a lovely courtyard including a swing invites you in. The lobby is a combination library, cafe, tea room, small bistro, Japanese-style sitting area, and information desk. Again, the room’s main inhabitants are vast numbers of green plants—as welcoming as the hosts, but without overcrowding the clean, well-organized space. While the main host spent an hour with P., helping with our itinerary for the next day, (and speaking immaculate English), I wandered around then ordered a pot of jujube-lingonberry tea. It was just-right-sweet, flowery, and herbal. The host had also helped me carry my bags up the 5th floor—lots of stairs! The room is cozy and clean and softly lit like the lobby. A feeling of Hygge and comfort washed over me. In the morning, I opened the drapes to mist-covered mountains, that appear very, very close! I can also see the cable cars that begin their frightfully high journey from the town center of Zhangjiajie disappear up the slopes, beyond the short medium-rise buildings. Here, the tallest buildings are perhaps 5 stories high, a refreshing contrast from the 30+ floor high-rises in Chengdu! I love that I can turn my head a few degrees to view a partly sunny sky and cloud-tipped mountaintops.
In addition to excellent service, a comfortable stay, a thick down comforter atop and equally just-right mattress that makes me sleep like I am at home in my own bed, the offering of tea by staff when I am obviously sick is remarkable. Zhijue Art Hotel was already going to get a great review, but now they’ve really done it!
I a grateful for the friendly —and surprising — care I receive in China. I am grateful for the lovely people that run this hotel. I am grateful to be sick in a cozy room with a view; this lessens the misery. I am grateful to be a short 3km from a Buddhist temple, a mountain to hike, and a “traditional village”— all for me to visit when I feel a bit better. I am grateful that I was invited by new friends to join on holiday. I am even more grateful that they are awesome travel companions and we have so much fun together. I am grateful we can do our own thing or remain together and it doesn’t matter. I am grateful for the cute guy I got to stare at during the 4 1/2 train ride, LOL! I am grateful for my outgoing travel partner who speaks very good conversational Mandarin, who planned our entire trip, who booked all of our hotels and transport, and who basically has taken care of all the logistics while me and her hubby had the easy job of enjoying the fruits of her labour. I am grateful for an free upgrade to business class on OK Airlines (haha, really!), which flew us from Chengdu to Changsha. I am even grateful for Starbutt’s coffee shop! I am grateful for my adventurous and flexible spirit, which allows me to be an equally enjoyable companion to my friends on this trip, as well as find trails in the mountains and take off hiking on my own. I am grateful for the opportunity for a weekend away from my Chengdu home to this temporary home in Zhangjiajie; even though I’m miserably ill, I am at least comfortable and feeling hygge. What else... I am grateful for the laughter and conversation P and I shared for almost the ENTIRE 4 1/2 hour ride... now that is one damn long conversation and means we get along pretty darn well if we can talk that long, LOL! and her hubby is a doll and so loving toward her— their relationship is really enjoyable to watch! I am grateful for Our Great Leader and his big head in Changsha (hahaha—wait for pix!). I am grateful for this amazing opportunity: I get to live in China and experience this lovely Chinese culture. I could go on and on, but I am getting close to feeling well enough to eat (at 2:40pm) and maybe leave my cozy environs for a small and easy adventure of temple exploration.