3/15 – Neither of us got much sleep last night, waiting for the alarm to go off at 5am so we could walk back to the station for our early train. Today we ride 14 hours south to Chengdu.
Unfortunately, according to my research last night, we will not be leaving the pollution behind in Xi’an. We both have headaches, coughs and nasal issues from the smog, and are considering whether to keep trying to find a cleaner place in China, or to just get out of the country. We’re leaning toward the latter.
The crazy thing is these folks don’t think they’re doing enough damage just breathing – they smoke like chimneys. In the elevator, on the train, in restaurants – no smoking signs are displayed and ignored. While I’m ranting, I’ll tell you something even worse – it seems to be perfectly acceptable here in China to hawk and spit. Loudly. All the time, on the street, indoors, into a trashcan. So gross. Watch where you step.
And while I’m at it, toddlers don’t wear diapers here – their pants have little cutouts so they can squat and poop right on the sidewalk. Although their little tushes are cute, still gross. I think I may be over China… End of rant – sorry!
We had hard sleeper berths on the train. Jim had a middle and I had a lower berth in the six berth compartment. All full. The lights were still out when we got on the train, and we had to ask for help finding the right berth. Much to my dismay, both our berths had already been slept in and recently vacated. No new linens for us. I sat up for an hour, then succumbed to the lure of the pillow, and laid down to catch up on the sleep I had missed last night. Here is a view out the window when I awoke. I believe the yellow is rape, used in making rape seed oil.
Chengdu was the last stop at 8:40pm, and everybody got off the train. A short taxi ride, and now we are at our hotel, where some drunken teenagers accosted Jim and let him know he was the tallest person they had ever seen. Sigh. These people need to get out more.
3/16 – A good night’s rest, and a typical Chinese breakfast – spicy Szechuan carrots and pickled cabbage, eggs hard boiled in soy sauce and sweet peanuts. Rolls that looked like marshmallows and tasted like air. No coffee or tea in the mornings, but warm milk.
Today we took a taxi to the Wenshu Buddhist Monastery, a peaceful collection of temples and gardens.
We watched monks playing badminton and observed more people praying than we had in Xi’an.
We met an American professor who lives in China, showing his niece and nephew the sights, and a family from Canada traveling with a private guide. Everyone we speak with shares the opinion that what we are doing – traveling solo – just can’t be done.
There are ponds of fish here, and big black frogs and hundreds of turtles.
The skull of a bodhisattva resides here, according to our resources, and Jim asked repeatedly, but the Chinese didn’t understand what he was asking. The Canadians’ guide understood, but told Jim the skull is not on display. Oh well! A lovely visit.
In the afternoon, we walked through a street market, selling everything from pig trotters to pigeons.
Walking back from supper, there was lots of music in the streets, and we stopped to watch a group of middle-aged women doing a sort of line dance – Chinese Electric Slide!