10 August 2007 Not punctual either
Friday. Luoyang ->Xi’an, China
There were two restaurants in the hotel in which we stayed last night. The one on the first floor was labeled “Western Restaurant” while the one on the second was labeled “Chinese Restaurant.”
We ate upstairs. This was fine with me. I have no problems with rice soup and tasty veggies for breakfast. There were a number of others in the group who might have preferred a more familiar variety of dishes from which to choose.
With multiple dashes through the pouring rain, we made the train station with barely enough time to spare only to find that the train was late. Apparently a serious train accident elsewhere was affecting the rail service timeliness in the province. Straight faced, someone in the group quipped that this was completely unusual – “after all, the Deutschebahn is never late.” At which point we all howled with laughter. Bahn timeliness is a thing of the past with the new privatization. The delay turned out to be less than an hour, hardly anything of concern.
Orderly mass confusion on boarding the train, there are an incredible number of people boarding. Our luggage was being delivered directly to the baggage car. Others were trying to haul huge suitcases through narrow isles. After an initial seat shuffle, we found we were on the upper tier of Wagon 5 with a great view of the passing scenery.
The train ride was over five hours of some of the greatest variety and remarkable scenery I have seen. New and old industry buildings competing with wild looking mountainsides while terracing was present anywhere it seemed possible to grow anything. Falling down shacks with barely three walls while the air varied from filthy to almost clear.
It seemed we all napped or read. The Chinese families traveling in the same wagon all seemed to take their lunch break by hauling out various bowls of noodles, getting hot water from a fixture at the end of the car.
After transferring to the hotel in Xi’an and having a break, we met for dinner – the specialty of small dumplings. These are not Dim Sum, rather small shaped dough filled creations that each have a name, meaning and history.
Electing to take the evening out and about – we walked through a downtown old city shopping area admiring all the street food and dried fruit, but did not try anything.
In another area of the city we stopped to see a water and light show. The plaza had just been finished for less than than two years.
And finally, near one of the city gates there is open air folk dancing and drumming every evening.
It was after 2230 when we arrived back at the hotel. Tomorrow does not start till 0900 for which I am glad.
I have finally made progress on the Solstice Slip. It is not hard, I have just been too tired, or too busy watching out the window to knit. Although the pattern is easy, one in four or so rows involves cabling. I have to pay attention. And of course, I needed to change the heel, cabling mandatory!
This is a country of arches, a lot of potential for future weeks when I have returned home. From the lake at the Summer Palace.