We have quite the itinerary on this trip. We are basically criss-crossing the country twice. We flew into Guangzhao which is on the southern coast of China, then flew to Changsha about a 2-hour flight north. bused 1.5 hours southeast to PingXiang, then back to Changsha for a two-hour flight to Chengdu (with a three-hour flight delay).
From Chengdu we will be flying due east to Shanghai on the coast. We will then take a 1.5 hour bus ride to Changshu (a totally different city then Changsha, northwest of Shanghai). After the games in Changshu we’ll be flying northwest to Beijing and then take a 3.5 hour bus ride to Qinhuangdao which is on the water due east of Beijing. After the final games we’ll be headed back to Beijing, then fly back to Guangzhao to the 15-hour flight to Los Angeles. From there everyone will take their domestic flight home.
At our first stop in PingXiang we had a “socially responsible activity” which was a visit to PingXiang University. We signed autographs, took pictures and played a brief scrimmage against the university basketball team. Coach Chris also ran some drills with the team. It was very hot outside and luckily the scrimmage was a short one.
PingXiang was the hottest place I’ve been to in my life. Each day was 98 degrees and felt like 112. It was a 3-4 showers per day city. The gym was not air conditioned and was easily over 100 degrees on the floor. There was a large fan blowing toward the benches. Next to the large fan there were three smaller fans all blowing hot air. Not sure what their function was.
The hotel was decent and probably was very nice 10-15 years ago. The service there was excellent, they even brought up routers and installed them so the whole team could have wireless internet. Our interpreters Olina and Fiona were very helpful and led us downtown for two shopping trips, the second to Super Wal-Mart where I was able to snag a bottle of wine for 9.9 RMB, abut $1.61.
We had a day off after we arrived in Chengdu and were taken downtown for another shopping trip. The trip took longer than expected as the bus driver got somewhat lost, turning an alleged 30-minute trip into an hour and fifteen minutes. Chengdu is a large metropolitan area of 14 million people and had all the exclusive shopping names as well as Starbucks, KFC, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut. Our interpreter “Q” told us that it’s known as the garden city and that the pollution is much lower than most of the major Chinese cities.
We are staying at the Jinqiang Sports Hotel which features a complete basketball training facility. It’s one of the nicer basketball facilities that we’ve seen outside of the United States. Q is a manager for the local Jinqiang Whales, a team in the Chinese second division. The team is in first place and will be moving up to the CBA next season.
Q arranged for us to attend the game last night between the Whales and their rivals from Guangzhao. The Whales prevailed 85-72 led by ex-Sacramento King draft pick Hassan Whiteside. The Guangzhao team had Shawne Williams, who played at Memphis and in the NBA off and on for five seasons. The game was a sellout of 3,500 fans and was a fun experience for us.
This evening all teams will have a dinner reception with the local organizing committee. Then later tonight we play Hungary in the late game. Its the first of a 6-games in 6-days stretch for us. So we’ll be back later tonight, internet permitting, with a game recap. Zai jian.