Monday, December 17, 2007

Xian!!

I arrived in Xi'an just a couple of hours ago. I tried to take my mom's advice and come without a reservation, in the hopes of snagging a good deal when i got here. However, i probably should have told mom that my flight didn't get in until after 7.

Needless to say i had to walk around several hotels, but found a good one for 200 RMB a night.. that is less than $30 a night.. i probably need to change the hotel though. Not bad for a night, but i think anything more, and i'll start to worry.

Anyhow, so i arrive at Xian airport with my bags and a bag for beautiful fruit i got from the open air markets in Hong Kong. I asked my dad and his wife several times whether i could bring the fruit on the plane, or whether i should get rid of it. Being a Californian, i know how sensitive people can get about people bringing in foreign fruit. My dad and his wife insisted that everything was on the up and up, and so not wanting to miss out on fresh Dragonfruit(yum!) and apple pears in Xian, i took the fruit with me. All seemed to be well as nothing in the declarations seemed to indicate any problems with fruit... but as soon as i tried to pass through the last gate before hitting Xian... a police officer stopped me. At first i didn't know what to do, as the police seemed very interested in the books i was reading, and kept evincing surprise that they were in English.. Images of Chinese prisons, and an international incident started to fly through my head.. had Chuck Klosterman written any disparaging comments about the Chinese governments? WEre the fairy tales in Book of Lost things going to be interpreted as a threat? Needless to say, it was the fruit.. and despite lamenting the loss of fresh produce, i was happy to have the guards enjoy my fruit as i made it into the city.

Xian is an absolutely crazy city. I don't know how to describe it and since i won't be able to upload photos anytime soon, i can't really show you. The lights are loud, the cars brights and everything can be bought on the streets. There are crowds and crowds of people, and stores with everything you can think of are open trying to sell their wares. There are like 13 billion stores named, "Jeans West" as if western jeans were really the rage, and of course Wal-Mart has made its way to Xian. The city is dominated by the Bell Tower which is a beautiful building, and is the center of activity.

Any comfort i could find with how english is spoken and understood in Hong Kong has completely evaporated here. No one understands me, and the universal look is one of confusion. People are baffled by the idea that i am american, and in fact some are convinced i am japanese regardless of what i say. Buying food (they have skewered meat on the streets, warm buns, and this awesome candied stuff) is an adventure. I tried to order a chicken bun and i think i confused the poor woman. I almost booked a hotel room for 3 months rather than days. Regardless, i am filled with increased excitement here. In HK, i had the safety net not only of language, but my father was around, this time i am all alone in Xian. On the taxi ride into the city, i tried to prepare for the possibilities that my cab drivers (there were 2) were plotting to rob me and throw me into a ditch somewhere... i had pittance fo chinese money, no phone, and if they took my passport, i'd be mightily screwed. It was a rush...

Tomorrow I will try and arrange a tour of the Terra Cotta soldiers and check out the museum.

Oh, and it is crazy in this internet cafe. Next to me is a guy who apparently a huge Milwaukee Bucks fan (probably because of the new chinese guy drafted) and he is watching a game on the chinese version of youtube, whille behind me are people playing WoW and some sort of cute online anime game.

Until next time!

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Linus - he's a Bucks fan b/c of Yi Jianlin...who's on my Fantasy team and doing quite well! Just remember if somebody tries to rob you, give them everything but your passport OR in the alternative: kick to the balls, punch to the nose/throat, then run like hell!