Friday, July 29, 2005


Between Beijing and Xi'an, China

We are on the slow train to Xi'an with our two Chinese guides, taking a little break from the trying time that was Beijing.

It was difficult to get comfortable there. Despite the occasional helpful student, most of the residents of Beijing seemed to treat us with a mix of wariness and contempt. Since very few of them spoke english, and Mike and I speak no Chinese (Mandarin or otherwise), it made for tenuous local relations. Add to that the heat, extreme humidity, and overbearing pollution of the city, and you can see why we've had a hard time of it so far.

Plus, the OC cameras both took a turn for the worse after Mt. Fuji. "Surprisingly", the high winds, fine dust, and the rapid pressure and temperature changes involved with the Fuji climb didn't agree with the fine motor controls of the DV camera nor the still camera (Fuji-san had one last laugh at our expense). So, we had hoped to get them fixed in Beijing, as the Operation is a bit neutered without the recording devices. We spent two half-days dealing with that business. The Panasonic DV cam couldn't be fixed, but mine was repaired for $60.
Later that night, the recently-fixed still camera, along with it's expensive flash memory card, was stolen in a club.
So, we ended up having to purchase another set of cameras and peripherals, putting the OC back ~$2000. Normally, there are cheaper ways of dealing with these problems, but, when you're on a year-long trip through foreign lands, you can't afford to wait 2-3 weeks to go through the proper channels.
In light of all of the camera bullshit, we didn't have a lot of time to spend enjoying our proper roles as tourists in China's capitol. We were able to take a long, scam-filled tour to the Great Wall, and sample some of the local delicacies, such as Beijing Duck. We also took a quick stroll through Tian'anmen Square, where we goofed around with some visiting Cantonese students (the pictures from this incident were lost because of the camera theft), and we met two fine young Chinese students.

Vicki and Lilli have proved to be the most welcoming part of China to date. Their company has been a pleasant breeze in the otherwise oppressive heat of China. They were a great help through our last days in Beijing. Having two fiery Chinese women speaking on our behalf got a lot more accomplished than our pathetic linguistic flailing and pantomimes.
Luckily, they have decided to join us in our trip to Xi'an.


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