Friday, May 22, 2009

5/22 - Xian is full of beautiful young people (so stay at the youth hostel, even if you're ancient)

We stepped off the train Friday morning. Everyone else knew we'd arrived, but all the westerners just kind of looked at each other until a porter came along and said we had to get off. We found a bus and rode it to the city center, thanks to our wonderfully experienced tour guide and interpreter Alex. Then to the Xi'an Youth Hostel, a great value right in the center of the city next to the local bell tower. For about USD$25 a night, my only complaint might be that the room's bathroom could have used a makeover. You may have already heard that even if modern bath facilities in China look western, they don't always seem to include rather functional features like S-traps. One seemed to be treated to the occasional funny sound or smell. Dropped our bags and then ran off to see all the warriors. Like every tourist presented with thousands of life-sized clay statues, we took several photos, but since we no longer had regular access to a computer, it would be a while before I was able to get Xi'an photos uploaded.

Then we traveled around Xi'an to sightsee (bus rides are so much fun when everyone looks at you like you're an animal in the zoo) followed by a quick shower. Alex located a little family owned five-table (if not star) diner and we had lots of noodles and potstickers. Yes, we had quite a few tall beers as well. Found the Xi'an Opera, and Alex and I decided that we'd give it a try (dropped Karen back at the hostel so she could read some Nora and get some rest).

Enjoyed the music, costumes, dancing, and what we concluded was canned singing, but all in all, great experience. Forgot to tell Karen that the custom of local theatre-goers seems to be to simply talk at regular conversation levels during the performance. Also, it's apparently fine to relocate to better seats at any time during the show, or to get up and go sit with a friend who might have just arrived. And to think I was for a short time concerned about wearing shorts and my Hawaiian shirt.

Alex and I enjoyed Friday night walking back from the opera house and sampling (what else) more food. Some real spicy lamb on a stick was even spicier the next morning. Ouch. I bought some drinks which I think were like Sprite. The streets of downtown Xi'an on a Friday evening are filled with young and beautiful people, though I really couldn't comment on what anybody was doing because I still don't know for certain. They all seemed to know each other and were very happy just to be there. Thankfully the rain had cleared, the evening was 72 and perfectly clear, and we enjoyed again being the center of the entertainment. Alex turned more heads than I could count. I had a very decent night's sleep at the hostel.

Off to Guilin

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