Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Wuhan travel series: The Wuhan Poly and getting to Carrefour

This post is my guide to the Wuhan Poly Hotel in Wuhan, and how to get to the Carrefour, part of a 4 part series.
Links to the other three posts are at the end of this one.
We traveled for adoption from August 14-28th, 2014

The Wuhan Poly Hotel
We felt very comfortable at this hotel. The staff is outstanding. They are friendly and patient with all the non-Chinese speaking guests they see daily, going out of their way to be kind and helpful to us. We also met our guide from Lotus travel hired by Holt International. He was fantastic and always willing to go above and beyond, as were all the hired guides we dealt with in country.

Ask the desk for directions and they will likely provide you a map. It is easier to understand a person who can point and draw lines for you than somebody rambling on the internet. Says the person about to ramble on the internet.

The hotel itself is fine. There are three things you may notice and not like, if you haven’t traveled in developing countries.
1.     The carpets are not great, or at least they were not in our room. I am kind of a freak about that, and planned to keep my shoes on but after a day or two decided to chill out and go with “when in Rome”.
2.     It can be a bit noisy at night. I was joking with my husband that maybe there was a city-wide tailgater or perhaps a minor revolution going on at street level. Turns out there is a very popular karaoke bar on the 4th floor, and we were on the 6th. I don’t know if it would be worth asking to change rooms, honestly. For me almost all hotels are noisier than home and I always bring earplugs.
3.     People smoke everywhere. Seriously, just imagine it’s 1940’s America, or a bad noir film. We were on a non-smoking floor and inside the room was all right, but there was a constant stream of businessmen smoking and talking on their phones outside our door, near the elevators. This isn’t really a hotel problem, it’s a cultural difference so I think it falls in the “suck it up, buttercup” category.

The room was all right for what we needed, and we didn't upgrade from just a basic King room. The linens and surfaces were clean and it smelled fresh. If you have more than two people you might request extra towels and TP right off the bat. The wall between the room and the bathroom was glass with a curtain, meaning that anybody getting up in the middle of the night flooded the room with light. It turned out to be helpful to us in the first few days after meeting our daughter because she wanted to always be in line of sight with me.

We didn't try the Poly pool but it sounded pretty lame. You have to wear a swim cap, so if you plan to go then bring your own because who wants to wear a communal swim cap? Ew. 

Our kiddo was small enough that the lack of big floor spaces didn't matter.
The tubs are like 17 feet deep. 
Food inside the Wuhan Poly
The room service is pretty reasonable, though they may need to come to your room so you can point to what you want on the menu. I loved the Bibimbap (Korean hot bowl rice dish) there, and Jonathan liked the Cantonese noodle soup. We found that going in person to the hotel’s restaurants was both expensive and disappointing, but other families seemed to like them. When I say expensive, I mean like $50 instead of $10 for a dinner for two, not like US expensive. So you might going to the restaurants in the hotel for some variety if you’re stuck eating in every meal for some reason.

Your room rental probably comes with the breakfast buffet. It was huge and quite good. Be informed that there is a guy in the back right area who will cook you eggs. In fact, if you see anybody behind the buffet near the stovetops you could ask them for one and they’ll get you hooked up. If you want coffee, order one (or maybe two!) when you are being seated. Otherwise it can take a while to order since just about everything else is buffet style. Some days the coffee we got was a nice thick espresso-style, and sometimes it was a larger watery cup like you get in the states.

Poly buffet YUM!

If you’re here for adoption, the kids all seemed to enjoy the drinking yogurt in the mini-fridge by the tea station. You just stab the straw right through the lid- don’t remove the lid and that way it usually won’t spill even if they tip it up. Straws were in a little cup on top of the fridge. We often took an extra one for later in the day, which may or may not be allowed. If you are prone to stomach problems while traveling, you might try a drinking yogurt or two per day yourself. We also took bananas and sometimes a little dry breakfast cereal for her snack cup. Again, YMMV in terms of rule-following…

Getting to the famous Carrefour department store:
Path # 1 Above Ground
If you have a stroller, we recommend staying at street level because there are no escalators back up on the Carrefour side of the busy traffic square. When we were in Wuhan it was full on furnace-hot summer, though, and our kid was too little to do the stairs herself. We came to prefer this path because it avoided most of the stairs.

So for an above-ground path, go straight out the hotel doors the way you came, across the parking lot and straight down the connector street to the area where Subway Exit 2A sits. Do not go down into the subway, but turn 90 degrees left and you’ll see the cross walk on the street.  

Wait for the light to cross the street here- this is Minzhu Road. BE CAREFUL and go quickly, even if you have a green walk light. Try to be subtle, but I recommend using local people as human shields if there are some waiting with you. It seems turning cars will NOT wait for pedestrians, and mopeds, motorcycles and bikes are on their own rules, or lack thereof. I consider the communication between walkers and drivers part of a larger language barrier. We crossed many times, but you do have to keep your wits about you, imagine it’s a game of dodge-car and be cautious. Cars do NOT defer much to pedestrians in China. Did I mention that already? Can you tell what kind of mom I am?

When you cross this street, you can continue counterclockwise around the square in front of the stadium. You’ll go past another subway entrance or two. If it’s evening, you might catch a glimpse of a large group of older ladies doing outdoor Chinese Zumba with their grandkids underfoot. Awesome!

At the next corner, cross again. You are now almost directly across from a long alley-street that continues the direction you were headed but slightly to the right. Take that street for a block- it borders the left side of the Hongshan Hotel. When it comes to a tee at the KTV building, turn right and walk another length of the block. As always, stay on the sides of these streets as even the small side-streets do not belong to pedestrians. Watch the locals and walk where they walk.

As you end this block, you will come to a T with a very big busy street called Zhongbei Road. To your left is the Carrefour building. You may have to lift the stroller over a car barrier or curb or two to get to the entrances. Imagine trying to get around in a wheelchair in China!

Path #2 Underground
To get past Hongshan Square, you can just take the subway. Not subway like a train, but subway as in pedestrian underpass.

Head out from the front of the hotel, across the parking lot and up that same alley/street. When you get to the big busy street (Minzhu Road) don’t cross- just look to the right and you’ll see the entrance to the subway. Go down here (remember this is Exit A2). Follow the signs for Exit D2, and when you emerge from the stairwell keep going in the same direction to the corner, then follow the sidewalk up some stairs as you follow around the corner to the left. You’ll pass a group of cell phone stores and a bank. (Side note- none of these cell phone places can get you the SIM card you need if you have an iPhone.)

At the end of the block, you’ll go down some stairs and across a small street/alleyway. You are now standing in front of the Carrefour building!

The rest of my Wuhan travel series:

From Hong Kong to Wuhan

The Wuhan Poly Hotel and Getting to Carrefour

Food and Shopping Near Hongshan Square

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