Today, Chinagora stands on the banks of the Seine and Marne rivers like a magnificent phantom Manchurian palace. We entered the grounds, where I noted that there was a tourist bus parked in the parking lot of the hotel. As we made our way into the hotel lobby I noted that a number of hallways were blocked off with the same type of metal grills that are used for crowd control in Paris. Decidedly, this was a building that one was not permitted to explore!
The lobby was a peaceful place, with a number of the hotel staff going about their business. I was surprised to see a few tourists sitting in the lobby. Why did they come here? I wondered. And what is the point of staying in this isolated place? The hotel staff paid no attention to us, a group of about twenty persons, as we purchased soft drinks from a vending machine and wandered about. Patrick Urbain must have asked the concierge if we could explore the garden that sits in the center of the hotel, because someone opened a sliding glass door and we were allowed to step outside.
The garden showed signs of dilapidation, but was still a beautiful place. A couple of footbridges crossed over empty ponds, and vegetation grew abundantly. I overheard someone comment about an unusual plant that he spotted. He said that it was only found in China, and he took a picture to document his discovery.
To be continued…