Similarly, the subway systems have been great, too, and so much easier to use than systems I’ve used in the U.S. or Europe. When we were living in Cambridge I often thought how impenetrable the T must seem to people with limited English skills. In contrast, every system we’ve been on in China has been multilingual with lots of signs and useful signals about what’s going on. And cheap – a 40-minute ride in Wuhan from our hotel to the train station, traveling 11 stops, cost about 35 cents each. Simply put, much of the transportation experience we’ve had in China makes the U.S. seem like a poor, developing country.But, back to Hefei. This is the one big city we’ve been in without a subway system, but it’s under construction, scheduled to open next year. That didn’t cramp our style, though, as the main highlight of the city was the Huancheng Greenway, a “jade necklace” around the oldest part of the city. I was amused to see that the English description of the park system describes it as a “boutique” greenway. I suspect someone had studied in the U.S. recently and observed that “boutique” is a good thing in tourism, no matter what it means.
Whether it’s a boutique greenway or not, it was certainly beautiful with great opportunities for every kind of exercise you can imagine. At 6:30 AM when I’d go out for a run there were people of all imaginable ages strolling, walking, jogging, running, dancing, tai chi-ing, badminton-ing, stretching, clapping (older Chinese in particular have this thing about clapping while they walk, presumably to get their blood moving and heart pumping just a little more), and even swimming in water you might not trust. There are Chinese workers out sweeping the walkways all day to keep it clean, and at this time of the year the orange trees and roses are in full bloom. Sometimes you get the most amazing aromas as you’re walking or running past.Of course, I should mention the real highlight of Hefei: a random tech store that had the new Apple Watches available the first day they went on sale. We just assumed they were on display for pre-order or something, but when we asked and found the one person in the store who spoke (some) English, we were told that they had a few models available right then. So there we are, early afternoon in China the first day they’re available, with our two new Apple Watches. We had to pay cash, since the store didn’t take non-Chinese credit cards, but, because we’re 12 hours ahead of the East Coast, we’re pretty confident we had our Apple Watches before anyone else in the States did!
The downside? Two more devices to plug in and keep charged. Or, make that three, since I also bought wireless headphones so I can use the Watch to play music while I’m working out. If you’re keeping score, we now have wo iPads, two iPhones, two Apple Watches, and an iMac that need daily charges, plus two speakers (for stereo), two Kindles, a camera, and an electric toothbrush that need periodic charges. Hotels need more outlets!
Here are more pictures from the Huancheng Greenway.