Thursday, October 19, 2006

Xi'an, among other things.

Well, there was some good news today. Dork news, but good nonetheless. China apparently has lifted its blocking of the super-subjective yet incredibly handy website of Wikipedia. This makes me very happy. I'm sure that their concerns as a nation are legitamate. After all, anyone can post pretty much anything they want on there about any topic. So, imagine what kind of "biased" information must be on there about... things that have happened in the past. You know... with certain "4-sided geometric shapes" in the center of Beijing, if you catch my drift.

Also, yesterday we were learning how to make the "Ch" sound, as in the word "Cheese". After saying "Cheese" about 50 times, I started really missing some Western foods (i.e. pizza). So I got some Papa John's last night and doused that fire as quickly as I possibly could. I hadn't had cheese in a very long time, and I haven't had milk since I've been here. And, AND... I haven't had a single burger or burger-like sandwich either. Its shocking. I had a submarine sandwich, but it was kind of gross... mainly because they put mayonnaise on it. Mayonnaise... on a friggin pizza sub. But I think that mayonnaise in the eye's of the Chinese people is more like "America sauce". So its like, its the condiment that American's eat. So slap it on anything you want and presto! Instant Western-style food!

One more thing, I've been valiantly staving off the marauding barbarians of sickness for the past week. Its not working too well. I feel like crap right now. And I hate that I feel like crap, which just makes the crap-feeling that much more crappy. Because the weekends are usually the best time I have to hang out with Cami and co. and have fun times together. But today when I went over, all I could do was dwell on the fact that I felt like crap. So I took some medicine, which made things worse due to the groggy repercussions.

The day didn't start off so hot either, as I was jolted from sleep to consciousness from the sound of a loud banging on the front door. There were some Chinese people out there who said alot of things in not-English and then came in the house. This one guy with blue plastic bags rubber-banded to his shoes opened the kitchen cabinet and mumbled a few indiscernable things to himself, marched right back out and said really quickly, "Si bai wu shi wu kuai". This translates to, "That will be 455 yuan". I understood that much. But what the hell? He didn't do anything and then started barking to me in mumbly Chinese (and yes, I can now discern mumbly Chinese from clearly spoken Chinese, in case you were following the progress of my language acquisition) about how much out of the tush I was supposed to fork over to him. Then this collectively acrimonious lot kept saying the price over and over and holding out there palms for me to commence forkage. So I lied of course and said that I didn't have that kind of money, what do you think I'm made of Mao bills? I think not busters... and bustette! So I called Ms. Wang and several others in a desperate attempt to get someone on the phone to tell them to leave. I failed at this, since it was around 8 AM and were asleep. So I got them to leave the only way I knew how: I knew how to say "go" in Chinese, and just repeated over and over. They could have been legitimate repair folk or something, but how the hell was I supposed to know? So, I just said, "Tso! Tso! Tso! Wo bu kuai! Wo bu kuai!" I'm sure this way of saying "I have no money" was totally incorrect. But it got the point across. I think they claimed they would be back later, but I fled the apartment before I saw them again. Now I'm back and there's no sign of breaking and entering, so everything must be square. Ms. Wang called back and told me, post hoc, not to give money to strangers. Good advice.

So... back to Xi'an.

I just realized as well, that post was completely lost...

This is a huge bummer, I hated writing about the bus ride down there. Oh well, here it goes...

We got on the bus in Beijing around 5:3o-ish and made our way to Xi'an. Once we loaded on, I knew instantly that I was in for a major treat. A sensory Dante's Inferno, if you will. Filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of what must have been equivalent to the nastier parts of Dante's little trip through hell. The floors were wet with some sort of... liquid. And to make the deal even sweeter, we had to take our shoes off at the front of the bus. So if the goal was to see how many bacteria could be soaked into each passengers' socks by the time the 15 hour ride was over, they most have broken some records. The mattress provided also featured an array of several mysterious human stains of some sort. The whole bus could have seriously given even Gil Grissom a run for his money.

So anyway, lucky me, I was on the top-middle bunk. I actually went to sleep around 10 pm. Poor Laura Kavazanjian and Annie barely got any sleep though. They were on the bottom bunk. Around 7 am, I was awakened to a cacophany of lung-hacking, guffawing, snorting, and coughing, accompanied by the aromatic smell of about 10 lit cigarettes in a poorly ventilated environment. Plus, according to Laura, someone spilled a bottle of pee. People were up and playing cards and having a wee of a time laughing and often saying, "Mei guo!" again and again. They were talking about us, like Chinese people seem to like to do. It's like Americans are celebrities and performing monkeys at the same time often in China. So, to add to the excitement, our bus broke down several times along the way. A few times even, a festooned officiall-looking fellow boarded the bus and poked around in a curious fashion. That was definately comforting. I took a peek, and then pretended to be asleep. For some reason I was worried that they might throw me off the bus for being American.


What should have been a 15 hour trip, became a 19 hour trip. It was nearly unbearable, and I can tolerate a lot. I really can. This was one of the first times I've had to just concentrate as hard as I could in order to block out all the bad. It worked, I didn't flip out on anyone. But then again, it wasn't a position I'd really enjoy being in again any time soon.

This is the only picture I have of the horrid thing.

So... we arrived at Xi'an and burst forth from the stinking husk that was the remains of a thoroughly defiled sleeper bus. Then we continued on to find our way to the hotel.

We made it to the hotel, it was a beautiful sight. I indulged myself in what was, perhaps, the most rewarding shower I've had in my entire life.

More to come...

Increasingly better experiences too.


James said...

So, to my knowledge, China, at least the mainland is still under communist rule. So, if my theory that the government is out to kill you Finney, communists woke you up and tried to rob you.

Anonymous said...

No it wasnt the communist's, they have nothing against him. It sounds more like the small capitalist contigency in bejing decided they could trick a stupid american who was used to being swindled by american capitalists, into just giving away money because there were people in his appartment.