lardbucket: more wall

3/16/2017

More Wall

Filed under: Travel — Andy @ 8:20 am

This morning, we had another breakfast buffet, with somewhat different selection, but still a large variety. I didn’t get pictures of everything I ate, but this was the first round. Watermelon, wheat French toast, fried egg, fried bread, a chicken ring (heavily seasoned), and orange juice. I got a bowl of cereal (the same honey flavored 50% larger Cheerios-type cereal everywhere in China appears to have), and also went back for more watermelon, some sort of thin cake, a tiny muffin, and a croissant. Yay breads.

After that, we went for about an hour bike ride along the city wall of Xi’an. It’s relatively large, and apparently all connected, but we couldn’t go all the way along it today because of an ongoing ceremony.

The wall itself is maybe 10 meters high, and provides a decent vantage point for viewing the city. Apparently large parts of the wall are original (from the 1300s or so), but others, like these steps, were restored in the 80s.

After our bike ride, we went to the “Muslim quarter”, which was more of a street where a lot of vendors sold various things (mostly food, I assume much of it was halal).

We got a snack of a “local hamburger” (beef that had been boiled, then chopped up, in between two rather thick pieces of a dense bread) and then a piece of “naan”, which was a bit closer to a slightly sweet pizza crust that had been cooked too long (with a stamped pattern in the middle and a thicker circumference). 


We walked around a bit more, and then had lunch at a local restaurant.

The restaurant was somewhat like one we had been to with our client: a number of areas for “regular” dining, along with a number more private rooms for groups to eat. For example, our tour guide set us up with a room, ordered food for us, and then ate with the driver in the regular area.

We had some string beans, sweet and sour pork, and chicken with peanuts, although I only remembered to get a picture of the first item.

I also forgot to mention restrooms in China. The hotels we’ve stayed at have had “regular” western bathrooms so far: toilet, toilet paper, shower, sink, etc. However, much of the rest of the areas have had mostly squat toilets. In general, there would be a line of stalls with those, and then a stall or so with seated toilets (in some cases, marked “handicapped”). On the plus side, the seated toilets tended to not be in use. In some cases, each stall would have toilet paper (although markings varied regarding whether it was acceptable to flush it or if it should go in a wastebasket), but in other cases, there was a single toilet paper dispenser near the entrance/exit. Most attractions (and, being tourists, most places we were) had stalls, people cleaning them, sinks, and so on. At one point, Graham did resort to a public toilet on the streets of Beijing, and reported that it consisted largely of a number of squat holes in the ground, as well as one toilet, with no partitions between any of them. I can at least verify that it smelled terrible: the sign outside (along other warnings) indicated that breathing protection was recommended. Mostly, though, the restrooms I’ve been in weren’t quite that bad. (The restaurant had individual rooms with a squat toilet, sink, and urinal.)

Our last activity in Xi’an was to go to a Chinese history museum, with a number of artifacts from 1.2 million years ago up to a couple centuries ago. 

On the way around Xi’an today, we noticed that a number of trees were receiving what appeared to be IV nutrients, which was a bit unexpected. Apparently that’s indeed what they are. Given that we were always driving when we saw them, they were a bit hard to photograph, but you can see a couple here.

Anyway, in the afternoon/evening, we headed back to the airport to go on to Guilin. Unfortunately, due to an earlier delay for the plane we were supposed to take, our flight got bumped by an hour and 15 minutes.

That leaves some time for comments about the airport screening process, though. The checkpoints are somewhat like you’d expect, with magnetometers standard rather than the backscatter faff we put up with in the US. There’s a more strict requirement to not have any liquid in your luggage (other than up to 100ml of liquid for cosmetics, but these must be intended for use in the airport or flight: no shampoo), and apparently a limit of two external USB batteries per person, with some limit on the capacity (mAh) of each. You’re supposed to remove them from your bag, as well as any laptops. (Phones and cameras can stay in the bag, for whatever reason.) As with the US, lithium batteries are verboten in checked luggage. After passing through the magnetometer, results vary. In Beijing, if nothing set off the magnetometer, you were free to grab your x-rayed bags and go (although apparently I set them off somehow, likely an oversensitive detector and the small amount of metal on my shoes to hold the leaves). In Xi’an, in the line we were in, you got a pat down either way. The pat downs are slightly more thorough than those in the US, but not significantly so. They do have a magnetometer wand to use along with them as well.

On the flight, we got a small meal of a roll with some ham(?) embedded in it, along with a small packet of roasted beans, as far as we could tell. (The water was poured out of a bottle, and hopefully it was indeed standard bottled water.) The sandwich/roll was slightly sweet, and decent; the beans weren’t enjoyed by any of my family. Given the late hour, we essentially called the roll dinner.


After we arrived in Guilin, we got our luggage and met our local tour guide and driver. Our guide is a bit more talkative than the one in Xi’an, but I haven’t quite gotten the hang of his accent yet, so there’s a bit of a pause between him asking a question and me understanding it.

Our guide has positioned Guilin as an idyllic city that is inexpensive (he notes that a 25 yuan bowl of noodles in Beijing would cost 4 yuan here), but largely because it is not particularly industrialized. “Here is a good place for living. But it’s not a good place for business. […] If you want to learn the culture of China, go to Beijing. If you want to learn the history of China, go to Xi’an. If you want to enjoy life, go to Guilin.”

And with that, we got to the hotel, and headed to sleep.

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