First day in Xi'an
17.05.2009 - 17.05.2009
May 17, 2009
We took the overnight train to Xi'an (pronounced Shee-an). It was my first time on a train and we slept in first class compartments. As a brief aside, American and Chinese standards are very different. First class to them isn't neccessarily 'first class' standards to us. Four of up slept to a room. The beds were kinda hard but the Chinese believe hard beds are better for your back (even my mom believes that...). Anyway, I woke up early (maybe around 6am) courtesty of remaining jet lag, I'm sure. I just sat up and gazed out the window and took pics of the countryside. The mountains are gorgeous adn the waterfalls were beautiful. I saw a lot of small houses and piles of trash as well. Some people were tending to their gardens and others feeding goats. It was definitely a side of China and I enjoyed. There were bits and blurbs of factories that I definitely wasn't expecting in an otherwise serene landscape.
I especially enjoyed the mountains, though. And the caves dwelling carved in the sides of some of the cliffs that ranged from fairly small to fairly big. I saw some that were three in a row side by side. The train ride itself was fairly comfortable. Before we initially left we were waiting in the train station. Christa told me the water the woman sold was 1 yuan, but when i went up to by the same thing she charged me 2. I thought something was up but didn't question it (and I was tired from the day). I went back and told Christa and I think Jessica overheard and they were said "yeah, it's because of your race". It never crossed my mind that they would have been the cause (not that i'm a victim of blind racisim, I just give people the benefit of the doubt). That and notherners aren't fond of dark skin, whether you're a fellow Chinese or foreigner, it seems.
After getting things partially settled at the hotel, we went to the Wild Goose Pagoda. It was so gorgeous. It felt interesting to be around sacred space in another country (heh...like I go around sacred space in the states...fufufufu..). We climbed all the way up to the top for 20 yuan. The view was nice, but it was a little crowded. and what is it with China and hella steep stairs? Fuuu.....
In all seriousness, the grounds we were on IS sacred space, and there were actual shrines erected with Buddha statues that people prayed to. I detested how some tour guides would come over on bullhorns talking about the history of the temple when someone was trying to PRAY. I guess you learn how to block things out, but still.
The gardens were beautiful; we saw a family of chickens (so cute!) and caged birds the monks were keeping both hanging in the trees and on the ground. The unusual thing was the kittens in hanging cages on the trees. No one we asked could tell us why they had cats in trees. None of the China expert professors even knew they were there...mysterious....
After that excursion we went to the Xi'an city walls and biked. Christa, me, and a few others biked the ENTIRE city wall, all the way around. 8 miles of biking. I was so out of practice! I started off so wobbly but I eventually got better. I was had the handle bars in a death grip. Some parts of the wall were super bumpy. It kinda hurt to ride too fast over some parts, but I sure burned a hellish amount of calories that day, fuFU!
We had a free evening after that. Christa and I set up our internet then headed out to eat. We settled on a Pizza Hut and it was out of this world! It's like eating in some high class restaurant. Escargot and cheese filled chicken wings were appetizers, among other items. They had different types of coffee, smoothies, salads, grilled items; so much you wouldn't expect from pizza hut! they even had a dessert menu at the end with chocolate brownies and cakes and pies! It was like a combination of CPK and Olive Garden. We both ordered a personal pan pizza. I got a 7up and Christa bought two beers. For dessert I had a chocolate cake and she got tiramisu (yes, that was on the menu. Crazy, right?). The total was 142 yuan, so....around 25 bucks? That's if I did my math right. The menu had about 12 pages, crazy. I want to bring friends to China just so they experience the craziness that is a Chinese Pizza Hut. The States really abuse their restaurants. It's all grease and oil.
The hotel we're staying at is the Prince International Hotel which is a four star hotel. It's a rare occasion that the hotel room actually looks like the picutre on the website. When we first moved in our particular room was only temporary because they were doing renovations and stuff. We finally got our rooms with fancy decorations and furniture and stuffs.