Xian, quietly, slowly

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAxian OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy most expensive load of washing ever, roughly $100.  We won’t be washing again while we are away, we will all just have to wear our undies three times each before we get home…Ok there are enough undies to get us each home, but seriously no more clothes washing from foreign hotels..ouch!

We are all tired, and I think in need of a still day.  I pop out to find breakfast on the street, Mark directs me to the Muslim quarter.  Somewhere on the way I get lost, I realise when I’m on my way back to the hotel.  It is only for a couple of minutes when realise I am lost….alone…and don’t speak the language.  I begin to wonder how I will find my way back, should I back track – I am sure I could get home that way but I’d been out for a least an hour, Mark would be worrying…… I realise I have come out a couple of blocks from our hotel…Relief!  I arrive with warm pork buns, a variety of Chinese pastries and other breakfast goods.  Poppy tucks in happily, Fox whinges about the food but finds something he is willing to eat – something without meat.  Mark and I finish the leftovers, and Gil just smiles and rolls happily on the bed.  Thank goodness Gil is so chilled out!!  I think he is enjoying the trip as he is spending most of his day in the ergo, up close to me, safe and contented.

Late check out, after which we all wander to the Muslim quarter and look for supplies for the next train trip that night. A little sight seeing and back to the hotel to collect our gear and off to the next and last sleeper train

It was difficult getting a taxi to take us to the train station, and we ended up feeling conned.  The concerige said he had a ‘friend’ who could take us to the station.  Turns out it was just a local taxi?? We had paid the concerige 80 RMB for a trip that should have cost us less than 20 RMB.

Then there was confusion at the train station.  We had easily found our way to the waiting area for our train, until we were told, in Mandarin, that the train will leave from another platform….but of course we didn’t understand as our conversational Mandarin is…..non-existent.  Confusion set in, we looked for other tourists, there were three other non-Chinese parties waiting for the same train.  In showing our tickets to the staff there was a lot of pointing, sign language and non-verbals given.  The confusion remained when we got to the suggested waiting room as our departure number wasn’t listed.  Again the tourists gather to consult each other and try to work out if this train will take us to Shanghai??…….Relief came as our train number flashed up on the neon screen in the waiting area.

It was a real insight to what it would have been like getting around China without a guide.  We had a guide in each city for at least one day and it was for us the best money spent.  They drove us to the various destinations we’d requested to visit, ordered meals, negotiation for taxi’s, recommend prices we should pay when bargaining (an important skill you must master when shopping in China).  Without kids it might be easier to manage, but with little kids it was so valuable for us to have a guide…that or learn the language!

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