Friday, August 10, 2012

Visiting Xi An

Visiting the ancient city of Xi An. The first thing I noted about Xi An is the air is much drier than it was in Hangzhou. The long ride into the city on the bus showed us a rapidly developing region. There were so many 100+ storie apartment building. Row after row.

These apartment buildings reminded me of the matrix. Xi An cabs were very cheap, but they were hard to get and harder to convince to take us places.

It was very hot there and we had a long way to walk before we finally found a cab to take us to our hotel.
Our hotel was very nice, but no WiFi.
That first afternoon after checking into our hotel, we wandered around and found a place for lunch. We had lamb spicy noodle stew and it was one of my favorite meals in all of China. I wish I could learn how to make it so that I can eat it anytime.

Next we went to a temple of some sort and looked around. Very nice architecture.

And there was another pagoda:

That night we went to a market where their were lights in the trees and stores full of goods for tourists. We saw lots of non Chinese there. which was a big surpise after being the only white people in Hangzhou.

The next day we got picked up by a tour bus and travelled for three hours to the famous Mt. Huashan. We then waited in line for two hours to ride a cable car up near the top. When we got up near the top, there were plenty of more stairs to climb. The air was cool on the mountain and we really enjoyed it. But there were many people.

There were men carrying loads up the mountain for 10 yuan a package. It took us 2 hours to get down the mountain, so it must have taken them 4 hours to go up the mountain with about 6 packages. Here is a picture:

A taxi cost about 1.50 yuan and a bottle of water cost about 2 yuan.

We all climbed around for a while, then one by one folks decided to rest. Tony was first, then Shou's dad. Finally Shou and I quit and we rejoined Tony and Dad. Then we had to decide how to get off the mountain. The line to get down was another 2 hour line. So we decided to climb it!! There were stairs all the way down the mountain. It took about 2 hours to get down. That was 2 straight hours of climbing down stairs. I consider myself to be very in shape. I go to the gym three to 4 times a week. I do the stair climber at the gym, but I was sore for a full week after climbing down that mountain.

We finally got to the bottom then we relaxed in the cold springs at the bottom.

I had dropped a water bottle into the stream when we first got there and I was able to wade over and it later. I was very proud of that.

The next day we went to several temples and the tomb of Wu Zetian, the only female empress of China.

We also visted a huge Budhist temple and I'll cover that in my next post.

Visiting Shanghai

Shou, Tony and I took a bullet train to visit Shanghai from Hangzhou. We then took the first class subway too our hotel. The subway was cleaner and smelled better than NYC’s metro. An automated voice told us the upcoming stop and which side to get out on (“the lefta side” in an English accent male’s voice). The signs were in Chinese and English and it was very easy to understand how to use the system.

Our small hotel room had two beds and WiFI!! The beds were very hard, which turned out to be the norm in the rest of the hotels in China and even in Japan.  They gave us tooth brushes, which I haven’t seen in US hotels. We met an American whose name was Dean and was nearing the end of a 50 day tour of China. He was heading back to Shanghai for the last few days before returning to US and starting an MBA program. We agreed to meet up with him later.

We headed out to explore Shanghai and went to their version of Times Square. We walked with more people than I can remember being around to the Bund. The Bund is a huge lighted tower. There Tony was asked to pose in pictures with two separate sets teen age girls. He was very popular! We met up with Deen and walked around the city for a while. Then we all headed back to our hotels to rest.
The next day we went to the Shanghai Museum and Tony met his new best friend who called the Shanghai Museum the “Museum of Pots.” There were a lot of pots including bronzes and porcelains. Tony’s new friend was from Australia and had the same car as Tony: Subaru. We all went to lunch and it was very delicious.  After lunch Shou left us. He had to go back to Hangzhou for his Japanese test. Later that day we were inside a UNIQLO store and in walked Sonic, the young man we met on the tour bus the day before. We had tried to call him, but got no response. We randomly ran into him in Shanghai. He couldn’t believe it and neither could we. We went for tea with him. We all hung out for a while then went our separate ways.

Tony and I wandered the town and had dinner. Then went to a dance club called Muse2. It was pretty fun and could have been anywhere. Mostly it was filled with Americans. After about an hour we left and took a cab back to our hotel. The next day we took the bullet train back to Hangzhou.
Here are the pictures from Shangahai.