Woke in Yangshou to no rain. Wait a minute! Am I seeing right? I was, but it was only momentarily. Rain returned happily to see us off from this very friendly town. The girls really enjoyed their time here. It gives them an opportunity to interact with the Chinese poeple in a way that is not possible in the bigger cities. We bid farewell to Dragon and Mr. Moore, extra guides who accompanied us on this part of the trip. Before we left we sent off some postcards that will probably arrive after we return home. Amazing that I can update this blog and give almost instaneous feedback, but a postcard still takes an age to travel to its destination!
We had a two and half hour bus trip to the airport for our flight to Xian. Then it was an hour and a half flight to this city centre. We had to farewell our guide, Stony, at Xian airport. He has had to return to his family due to a situation there. He handed us over to our new guide, Olive, a lovely young woman who is more than capable. She has a very happy outgoing manner and has already endeared herself to the girls. We settled into our hotel, The Bell and Drum Tower, and headed into the Muslim quarter for dinner. Xian is a city, not a small town like Yangshou, and the girls were very aware of the difference. Many more people and beggars on the streets. Dinner was an interesting variety of tastes and we were thankful to not have any garden variety molluscs make an appearance!
Differences I’ve noted since my last visit in September last year. The pollution problem here seems worse. You can make out that there is a blue sky up there somewhere but the brown haze colours everything to a drab outlook. Big LCD screens dominate the city centre far more than they did last year. It has a mini Shanghai at night feel about it that was not apparent a year ago. Another interesting thing today has been the numbers of Chinese people who stop and stare at us. At the airport it was like being in a zoo. People were openly taking photos and recording video footage of us. To be honest, it was a little disconcerting. This is very different from my experience last year.Very different from the reactions of the village people with their open welcoming reception. We visit the Terracotta Warriors tomorrow and then tackle Mt. Huashan for our overnight stay on this mountain. I climbed this mountain last year and it certainly is no walk in the park. It’s a steep uphill climb for at lest two solid hours. I’m pleased to report that in my discussions with the students all realise that it is going to represent somewhat of a challenge, but they also recognise that it is going to be a challenge with great personal reward at its completion. I won’t be able to post tomorrow, but will try and do so on Thursday. Sorry no photos today. The hotel has no wireless so I’m having to use their desktops for internet connection. All of their screens are written in Chinese and I can’t figure out how to read the USB to retrive the pictures I copied to it. I’ll try and get some up on Thursday. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on technology they go and throw a barrier like language up at you!