Day 1

Well, so I wasn’t as productive as I had hoped, and I don’t have all the nice little write-ups done. Those will have to wait, I guess, so for now I’ll just make a quick update about where I am.

My last few days at Xi’an were nice. I stayed at the nice and relatively inexpensive hotel for all but the last night. For the last night I found another hotel, with its own bathroom and 24-hour hotwater for just 60Y a night (the one I had been staying at was 130Y)! However, after I was there I found that you really do get what you pay for, and I think in the future the other hotel for 130Y is a nice balance of luxury and cost for me. If I really wanted to go budget I could just get a dorm bed for 15-30Y a night, but then I’d have roommates and not my own bathroom. Anyway, this last hotel I stayed at was very sketchy, smelled bad, didn’t have sheets (well there was one on the bottom, but only a blanket on top), a very run-down bathroom, and the beds weren’t very comfortable. I mean, it wasn’t horrible, but if I’m going to pay for more than a dorm bed, I may as well live luxuriously, right? :-D

It was nice not going touristing all over Xi’an. I got to know ever so slightly some of the local shopkeepers. There was the juice guy I enjoyed talking with (and oh man was the banana and milk smoothie good!). There was a guy who owned a little hole in the wall noodle place that was very friendly that I got to talk to sometimes. And there was a woman and her maybe 14 year old son who worked at a little corner stand selling drinks and ice cream. Her son had a new skateboard that he was playing with and I showed him how to ollie (jump) it. Sadly their stuff was overpriced (even after I showed him how to ollie!), but they were friendly enough.

Anyway, yesterday I left Xi’an at 6PM on the train. I thought it would take 24 hours, but in the end it only took 12… So I don’t know where I got my 24 hour idea from. So here I am in Beijing, eagerly awaiting Tina’s arrival! In a couple days she’ll be here and show me around, and then I fly home. I’m not sure how much I’ll have a chance to update over the next week, though, so this may be it. Or it may not be. Whew, a lot new information in those last two sentences.

Oh, and I bought a new phone here, too. It was probably unwise to get nice electronics in China, in case it breaks or something, but my other phone was dead and I needed a new one for the States anyway. It’s a Nokia 6021. I researched phones for quite some time and it was the best phone I could find that was:

  1. Tri-band, i.e. it could work in the US and China (and Europe)
  2. had excellent reception (one of the best, supposedly) and battery life (up to 3 hrs. talk, 10 days stand-by, though realistically people put it at about 4-5 days)
  3. not Motorola (whose previous phone I had I didn’t like for a variety of reasons)
  4. not Sony-Ericsson (because I’m boycotting Sony), and 5.has no camera! Just give me a quality phone, not a whatchamalickey-doodad. I already have a nice camera, and a nice mp3 player.

So yeah, that’s what I did today.

Day 2

Haha, ok, ok, just a real quick post.

I was walking around just an hour or so again trying to find the “backstreets” of Beijing. I found them, more or less, in a direction away from my hotel I hadn’t tried before. I even found a little place where you sit in this chair and get a 30 minute backrub for 20Y! I’ll have to try that place sometime. Oh, and I passed a huge, beautiful Catholic church, though I’m not sure if it actually has services or not.

Anyway, I had to post because something very funny happened. I was walking down the road next to this little parky thing. There was grass and flowers and stuff, and it was very nice. The sun was setting and the temperature was cool. Anyway, this man was walking his cute little white dog down the sidewalk in the opposite direction. Already I was amused because he was this squat, gruff looking Chinese man, with a dainty, fluffy white dog, maybe the size of a Pomeranian. But the little thing was in a hurry and would bound forward, tugging on the leash periodically. And then it happened: the man scowled and ordered his dog, “走慢一点儿!” in a thick Beijing accent (”Zou man yidianr!”, “Go slower!”).

I muffled a chuckle, and after passing a fair amount I let out a good belly laugh. I don’t know what it was about the situation, and I’m probably not being fair. The whole environment, along with the tough guy yelling at his cute little dog in Chinese, it was just too much for me. I think it was probably the yelling at the dog in Chinese because I saw, finally, how absurd it is to talk to your animals. I probably wouldn’t have thought too much about “slow down!” and certainly I talk to Napoleanne my cat plenty, but I saw that and I thought, “there is just no way that dog speaks Chinese!”

Ah, oh well. I don’t think I’m being fair, but it was funny and I thought I’d post about it. Tomorrow Tina’s going to pick me up!

Wed, Aug 23, 2006 | For updates follow me on twitter