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The Magical China Trip 2012


CHINA | Wednesday, 17 October 2012 | Views [1008]

Today is Wednesday.  I am back at the Xi’an Skytel Hotel; a guide picked me up from the train station and delivered me here, then hurried off to pick up someone else at the airport.  What do I do with myself while waiting for Daen to arrive on Friday?


Well, first I can struggle through calling hotel services to have some laundry done.  I’ve washed things by hand, but am at a point mid-way through the trip that I really would like truly clean clothes.  It will be expensive, but worth the cost.  (I did check “No Starch.”)  I spent a good five minutes on the phone trying to convey what I wanted and understanding what she was saying.  I think we managed well enough because a woman showed up shortly afterward to take my laundry bag.  I should have my clothes back tomorrow or the next day.  I can get by till then.


Yesterday in Baoji was a different story.  I thought the cleaning lady was asking if I had any laundry so I told her no.  Then later, when my room had not been made up, Sun had called for service for me, and the same lady showed up, I realized my mistake.  Ooops!  I had to apologize.  I told her I had misunderstood and she was very kind about it.  Today’s laundry story could still become an adventure.


Next, I went out to get some cash and to eat lunch, an interesting prospect.  It seems my hotel is in the middle of a huge downtown shopping area.  Finding a little local restaurant is a little daunting.  I looked for restaurants with people in them, but they were too full – no room for a foreigner.  I ended up at a soon-to-be megamall.  It included MacDonald’s, Dairy Queen, a coffee shop, and other modern restaurants, not all of which are open yet.  As I have said, it seems that all of China is under construction.  Anyway, I was in a very quiet, seemingly deserted part of the mall, and finally asked a couple of girls where I could find something to eat.  They immediately gave me a menu and took me to a new restaurant, with no people in it at all.  I was a little leery, but game at the same time.  Turns out it is a hot pot restaurant.  Several young women hovered over me to help me order.  I actually didn’t get it was hot pot until the food started to come.  Then I felt rather abashed.  My waitress helped me cook the food I had let them order for me:  beef, tofu, and a type of tofu noodle.  It was delicious and I ate my fill.  The whole thing came to a total of 20 yuan RMB, the equivalent of about $3.20.  I was very pleased actually; most meals seem to be closer to 30-40 yuan RMB.


I walked around the block, so to speak, after lunch and found my way back to the hotel.  I’m afraid I’m just a country girl at heart, though.  Stores and shopping areas are not my cup of tea.  Did I mention that there is a Walmart in this shopping area, too?  Like many large supermarkets in China, it is underground.  Access is from a busy street lined with shops of every kind – busy with people, that is.  No vehicles are allowed on that street, making everything a huge shopping complex.  I didn’t go into the Walmart, though I may tomorrow out of curiosity.


I was rather happy to get back to the hotel.  I don’t know that I make a very good tourist.  I prefer to have business to take care of instead of looking at things I have no desire to own.  The overhead costs must be horrendous, especially for the inventories of watches, jewelry, purses/bags, shoes, and clothing on display.  Then, again, China has a quickly growing middle-class of young people who want to look smart.


I have just recently (in past couple of days) been able to watch a little Chinese television.  Before that, I needed a longer break to overcome the assault of a foreign language constantly in my ears.  Don’t get me wrong, I love China and the Chinese language; it’s just part of the culture shock a person goes through.  Anyway, the TV ads are just like American ads; that is, sound bites and glitz.  The Chinese people are being programmed to the “good life,” the same way as Americans have been.


In Huang Shan City, I went to a movie with my guide to wile away an afternoon (I was tired of just walking and looking – and what does an older American woman have in common with a young Chinese man?).  We saw the American movie “Bait.”  Don’t bother to see it unless you like B-grade movies in 3D.  While there were some scary parts, it mostly made me laugh, sometimes because it was supposed to be funny and sometimes because it was supposed to be scary.  Its plot was reminiscent of the older version of “The Poseidon Adventure,” the one with Gene Hackman.  Anyway, my reason for mentioning this is that there are no age ratings for movies in China.  (Also, there are no theater requests to “silence your cell phone.”)  Thus, there were very young children attending this movie with their parents – I didn’t see any grandparents.  It makes me wonder what these children will grow up believing.  I didn’t hear any of them crying, but it concerned me nonetheless.


Okay, enough said.  I’ll write up my Suzhou and Huang Shan adventures instead of boring you with a look into my thoughts.

Tags: china, xian

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