November 26: Train to Xi’an

In spite of my taxi experience the previous day, we decided that taking a taxi to the train station would still be wiser than trying to navigate the subway with our luggage during rush hour.  Fortunately, traffic wasn’t too bad and we got to the train station with plenty of time to spare.  We quickly figured out which track our train would be leaving from, and then found a place to have breakfast.

The waiting area for the trains was crowded, but we found seats easily, once another train left.

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The air was still pretty clear around Beijing, so the train ride offered some nice views of the mountains just outside the city.  As we got closer to Xi’an, it seemed to get a bit hazier.

IMG_3392IMG_3395IMG_3397IMG_3400IMG_3411IMG_3413In Xi’an, we realized that none of us had the name of our hotel written in Chinese.  We tried to use my OffMaps app to figure out which subway stop was near our hotel, but none of the station names it had matched the names on the ticket machine.  We eventually spotted an information desk, where they were able to help us out by writing the hotel name and address in Chinese (so we could take a taxi).  At the taxi stand, the driver seemed unsure about where the hotel was, so he and another driver called the hotel to confirm.  At one point, they handed the phone to me (apparently the hotel didn’t want to divulge the address without knowing there was a real guest?)  A bit odd, but it worked out.  On the taxi drive, I spotted a scooter that had a guinea pig in a cage, sitting up front.

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After checking in, we headed out to find dinner.  After walking past some fancy-looking place, a place with a lot of flashy signs, cheap tables, and the smell of fantastic grilled foods caught my eye.  The waitress spoke a little English, and pulled up an English menu on her smartphone that we could use to order from.  We wound up with grilled mutton, beef spare ribs, eggplant, mushrooms, eggs with leek, and 2 kinds of fried rice. The one I ordered had sauerkraut (pickled cabbage in it).  S later said that this was her favorite meal of the trip, but it may have been as much about the atmosphere of the place as the food.  It was cold inside the restaurant, and some of the other customers were smoking, but some of the folks (who may have been running the place?) had a toddler that was all bundled up, and very cute.

 

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