Saturday, May 23, 2009

5/23 - Leave Xi'an, Arrive Guilin


We've been exploring the Muslim part of Xi'an (including the market and the mosque). More good food and great photo ops. The fried ball Alex is holding in the photo was filled with hot brown sugar, or something similarly sweet. We passed it around and tried to catch any drips of warm syrup. This was the breakfast treat responsible for the only drip on my multi-pocketed travel pants, which I wore every day of our China trip. I can't imagine wearing one pair of pants for two weeks at home, but it seemed to be the right thing to do while in China. And now, we're borrowing the hostel's computer for about $1 an hour, waiting for some lunch. Must run. Catching a plane to Guilin later tonight.


We're being eaten by mosquitoes here at the Zhongshan Hotel in Guilin. Our air conditioner, well, I'm at a loss for words. It is very, VERY muggy. Or maybe the a/c just isn't working. And to think we're going into the woods and mountains, of which we caught a brief glimpse at sunset last night (though it was raining) from the windows of the airport shuttle.

Xi'an was wonderful. Wide streets, safe, friendly people. We foolishly ate pizza (Alex had a craving) at the hostel and changed our Guilin hotel reservations because of the lack of any response to repeated phone calls to the hotel. Hence, we're now at the Zhongshan Hotel in Guilin, which offers multiple sex oils and condom options on top of each nightstand and even more variety on the counter in the bathroom. Our 5th floor room has a lovely view of the back of the hotel's eight-foot high sign. Anyhow, back in Xi'an, we finished lunch and walked up yet another bell tower. Unlike many stairwells which have two hundred steep steps in a straight shot, fortunately, Xi'an 's bell tower broke its climb into multiple landings, my favorite being six steps, landing, do a 90 degree turn, six more, 90 degree, etc. That was much nicer, although there were probably as many steps all told. I have a neat photo of a six year old girl riding on the back of her mother's moped far, far below. (Look closely and you'll see their little scooter in the center of the traffic triangle.) Looks like she's headed off to violin practice, although Alex called the instrument something else. I have a series of photos showing how they navigated through two buses, twenty speeding cars, and ultimately survived in spite of one shot where two cars are converging with the moped in between. This was a common site on the roads of a typical Chinese city. Met some nice Americans who recommended some places in Yangshuo, which we might try (since we still haven't quite worked out the details with Mr. Wong at the Rosewood Inn down there).

Driving out to the Xi'an airport was neat. Of course, the main city is beautiful. Surrounded by the original wall (I think 18 meters high and about the same in width at the base), all of brick. The wall was very substantial, like most of the other old buildings. We saw at least three nuclear power plants around Xi'an, so I'd assume they have a bunch of power. Like I said, though, it isn't always used on air conditioning. The flight on China Eastern was nice. Only about twenty westerners boarded, and then after about ten minutes, all the rest of the seats were quickly taken by some very excited locals, many of whom seemed to have never flown before. One fellow five rows up from us had to be reminded to sit down so often that it was comical. It couldn't have been written any funnier.

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