Monday, October 23, 2006

It's now Monday night. Traveling alone in China is turning out to be a real experience. On the night train to Xian, I shared a "room" (4 "soft-sleeper" beds) with three Chinese men! Although it was first class, the one toilet per car left a lot to be desired, but there were three nice sinks in another room. No tea or coffee on board, just a restaurant car where hot, rice porridge was served in the morning. But there was a hot water dispenser in our car and, as I had my metal cup with me, one of the men gave me some of his tea leaves! He actually spoke some English. He's my son Sebastien's age (30) and is an army officer. From what I could understand, the army paid for his university studies, so he has five more years of service to go in an office managerial position . He met his wife at university, but she lives and works in Canton, and they only see each other twice a year! He was very kind and very inquisitive and interesting. When I asked him about the situation in North Korea, he said the Chinese are not happy with North Korea because they're now afraid the Japanese will also start nuclear testing, and the Chinese hate the Japanese, esp< ever since they invaded China during WWII.
I'd booked my hotel tthrough my hotel in Beijing, and a guy from a travel agency met me at the train station and accompanied me to my hotel, which is non-descript and modern, but it's clean and I'm on the 7th floor for a change.
This afternoon I visited Xian's drum and bell towers, the Great Mosque (there's a large Chinese Muslim population here), and the Historical Museum--all very impressive. Ran into a Nouvelles Frontieres group at the Mosque. Am sort of glad I'm not traveling with a group like that.
Tomorrow, I'm taking an all-day excursion to visit the famous terra cotta warriors outside town and other attractions. Will probably take another tour on Weds., and then Thursday I'm flying to Chongquin, where I'll be boarding a boat down the Yangwi River. Big dilemma: Do I take a Chinese boat for 100 euros or a westernized, "luxury" curiser for 330??? After seeing the people at NF, I'm wondering if I won't up for the former.

Hardly anybody in this town speaks English, except for the tour guides. So since I've been on my own, it's been interesting. But a smile and gestures work wonders. A guy from a Canon camera shop actually accompanied me to this Internet cafe, which is huge and is on the third floor of a buidling! I'm the only westerner in it!

That's all for tonight, folks.



At October 23, 2006 5:01 PM, Anonymous B. Vincent said...

Mercredi, Hilary, je vais à Venise jusqu'à dimanche. Je penserai malgré tout à toi et à ton beau voyage car dans les gondoles 80% des occupants sont asiatiques !

At October 24, 2006 12:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I rekon you don't have much choice for the cruise: if the chineese one is only in chineese, than you know which one to choose!! enjoy Xian and it's region.. hips of kisses.. MArco


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