Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Great Wall and Overnight Train

So I am definitely reinforcing all our stereotypes that Americans are fat and lazy.
On Monday we headed over to the Great Wall for what was suppossed to be a fun, intrepid 5 hour hike to a non-restored part of the wall. As we were getting on our way, I was already thinking it wasn't such a hot idea. Like always, I already felt some blisters forming and after like 20 seconds I was already soked in sweat and out of breath. Geeez. How embarrasing! The good thing, is that I am the oldest person in the group by 2.5 years. So all these things I attribute to my"old age" and I get away with things like still having a single room (yay!) and having some of the boys carry my bags. This was different though. If I quit I would have had to get back on our bus and gone to the hostel with the driver. So I asked our guide how much worse it was going to get and he looked at me and said "we haven't started" the actual hike starts over there" and he pointed at this super far away mountain. And then I was like HELL NO! I want to come back home alive! So a couple of people laughed, and this girl Laura whispered to me, If you quit, I'll quit too. HAHAHAH So we both told the guide we were going back to the bus.

What a great idea! We had a lovely day! The driver took us to the hostel and then drove us to the top of the entrance of another part of the wall. Later, another girl almost passed out after 3 hours of trekking so the guide came back with her and joined us at the wall. We walked up and took lots of pictures and then took a a sling seat down. It was a ton of fun. When we met up with the others, they were dead! I am so so glad I decided against it when I did!

The wall is amazing when you think about how long and massive it is and how in the world they were able to build it, but it's not like super pretty or fun. The scenery is very nice and peaceful around though.

The next day, we drove back to Beijing and got on the over night train to Xi'an. I had taken overnight trains before in Europe so I wasn't freaking out or anything. The train ride was 13 hours and was leaving at 6 PM. We got to the station early to buy some snacks for the trip. So far, I am not too happy with the candy here. Apparently chocolate is not huge, and I LOVE chocolate. Also, it is very hard to read the labels, so you are not always sure what you are getting. I settled on two big bottles of water, some potato chips (lay's with chinese flavoring and some oreos and a chinese version of ramen noodles.) People are making a big deal out of the water and unpeeled fruit and apparently there have been some bouts of diarrhea. Since I am a real third worlder, i have not had any problems whatsoever. YAY!
We got on the train and it was like a party bus. People were drinking and talking really loudly and eating all kinds of things. I saw a man devouring some chicken feet and washing it down with pure rice liquor in a flask! We got on our bunks which are 3 to each side in a completely open compartment. I had the top bunk, which kind of sucked cause I had to climb up there and I couldn't sit because my head was going to hit the ceiling. But then I learned that the top is good, because it is customary for everyone even strangers, to sit on the bottom bunks, so next thing we know there were two men sitting on this girl Claire's bed. SHe was not pleased at all.

The train ride was a lot of fun. We bought some beers and went around telling things about each other. Someone had a little ipod player with speakers adn it he played all alternative music and stuff, so then Jen (the other american girl ) and I were like" we need to turn this into a hip-hop dance party, so I plugged my Ipod with my wedding mixes and it was way better. I only stayed up till 10 because, again, I am old and not have the energy these kids (19-22 most of them) have. Some of them I think stayed up all night. My chinese bunk mate was snoring and I really couldn't fall asleep. Eventually I did, and now I am in Xi'an at the biggest internet cafe I have ever seen. People can smoke in here, which is gross. Also, 99% of people here are local chinese customers and are playing video games with anime characters and are wearing headphones and laughing out loud. Love it.

Finally, IT FINALLY HAPPENED: a chinese woman asked me if i was chinese. I said no, I am from the US. she said yes, american and chinese. I said no, not chinese at all. Then she said, you look chinese. So I asked our guide who is 100% chinese and he said I looked like I could be from a specific province from the north of china. Ha!


Sarah said...

This is a great post!!!! Sounds like you are having a great time. Good to hear that the tour folks are flexible so that you can still have a good time even though you are so old.

Philippe said...

YAY finally my baby has found where she is from!! You make the best blogs ever...Love that you are having such a great time...Keep me posted with all of your great experiences!

Joanne M.W. said...

hahah maybe you're my long lost cousin! :)

taylor said...

I would flip the fuck out if someone sat on my bunk. If I come to Asia, I'm gonna need the top bunk.