Wednesday, April 09, 2008

China day 13

Ok, today we get up, take a shower in the wonderful shower at Bob’s and head off to see the terracotta statues. Myron’s really stoked about this. It’s 40 km away, but unlike Chengdu to Leshan, traveling this distance only costs 6 kuai not 140 kuai. Weird. On the bus, I witness one of the strangest, and coolest things I’ve seen this whole time in China. There is a western, blonde girl who can speak Chinese fluently on the bus, who is leading her group of Americans around (they are also going to see the terracotta statues). She sits down next to a Chinese guy on the bus, and wants to practice her Chinese with him. Turns out, he can speak English, and after listening in on the conversation, I was totally shocked. The Chinese guy was a Christian, and was evangelizing the girl. He was telling her the God-honest gospel, right there on the bus. A Chinese guy. To an American girl. In central, communist China. She was pagan as I’ll get out, and if she hadn’t found this as unusual as I did, she probably wouldn’t have given him the time of day. But as it was she listened the whole way through. Finally the guy got off, but wow… that was amazing.

We finally get to park where the statues are. It’s a big place, and we don’t really know where to go, despite the fact that Myron has been here before. It is also starting to rain. We manage to find the building that houses the main exhibition, before the rain really starts to fall (once again, my student discount saves me a lot of money). Pretty impressive, I guess.

Actually, I found it a tad towards the boring side, compared to the other amazing things we’ve done/seen, people we’ve met, etc. But, here is one totally amazing thing: the steel swords of the warriors had barely corroded. I found this more fascinating than the whole array of hundreds of warriors. They had actually figured out how to alloy the swords with Chromium, so they wouldn’t rust. And this was 250 BC?!?! Imagine seeing a sword over 2000 years old, that has barely rusted. It is very strange. Also, there was a 2000 year old bronze replica of the horse-drawn chariot thingies that they rode win. It looks more like a turtle or clam though, it’s really interesting.

It really starts to pour. We stop at the main museum building, and I have to use the bathroom so I head off to find it. The bathroom is really nice black marble, etc, but it’s disgusting, pee is everywhere on the floor. I slip on it, and tear open my little toe on a sharp pee-stained corner. Crap, I’m gonna get some sort of horrible infection, and I’m bleeding all over. [Background – few weeks earlier, in Sendai, to avoid a car I ran into the curb and made a bloody stump [later note: ok, that's a wee bit of an exaggeration] of the same toe, so this wasn’t a pleasant experience. But, at least I didn’t end up getting an infection.] We head out of the museum, and it is just pouring rain. All these people keep calling to us, trying to sell us umbrellas – for 15 kuai. For some boneheaded reason, we refuse to buy them unless they come down to 5 kuai. They just shake their heads. We finally find the bus back to Xian and it looks like we’ve been through a car wash. The ride back is wet. I am really irritated at Myron, [probably irrationally], and vice versa, but we are gun’mer (our new vocab word) so we can’t stay angry for long. By the end of the ride, our problems are ironed out.

Back in Xi’an, it is still raining hard. Our “soft sleeper” (luxury ride to Beijing – the only tickets we could find, and they cost us an arm and a leg. 400 kuai! Then again, that’s only 50 bucks. In the states, that would have been a real bargain) doesn’t leave until late that evening, so we are stuck in the rain. The kind souls at Bob’s let us leave our stuff there, and open up their recreational facilities to us. First though, we go looking for something to eat. Not bad food, has good Gan bian dou jiao, but the other dishes are only OK. Which, means really really great, but not as great as a lot of the food we are used to by now. We return to the hostel, and just sort of kick around. Really nice guys for letting us stay there during the rain storm. Mari and I play ping pong, and she schools me.

If I had played much ping pong in my life, and was good at ping pong, I’d care, but as it is I don’t. Ok darn it, I care anyway! I get better but she still schools me. Then this other guy wants to play. I’m like, “are you good?” and he says “well, I can play a little” but he says it in such a way that you know he thinks he’s good. He gets up to play Mari, and he totally creams her. I try to help her out by taking pictures, with flash, of them playing right when he’s about to hit the ball. I think this is really clever but he doesn’t like it and asks me politely, in such a way that you know he doesn't mean it politely, to quit.

[Can't you see him getting angry?]

Anyway, we order dinner one more time, and I practice my 3 instruments that I’ve bought so far. Good times. After telling those guys goodbye, we head over to the train station and get on our soft sleeper. Soft sleepers, unlike hard sleepers, are only 4 to the room, and you get your own TV to watch. We couldn’t all be in the same room, Myron is in one room over. Mari is being a total nut, and wants to see me do tricks on the bunk railings while the other two guys aren’t in the room.

She’s a total nut case, and we have a lot of fun, probably to the irritation of the bunk fellows below us. Oh well, they don’t get to sleep in the same room as an American girl very often, so they probably don’t care too much. Eventually, I find the C-pop station, and watch it. Wow… so different. Watching the top 10 vids now… Chinese rap? Just doesn’t seem right. And now there’s one coming on that's about marriage?? Wow this is so weird. They practically idolize marriage in this video. It’s like this great thing where you live happily ever after. Couldn’t get farther from the pop American concept if you tried. Sigh, what a foreign country.

[One more journal entry left.]


Blogger Theologic said...

Wow, you saw the Terracotta Army. I had no idea.

When I was your age, the only thing I had seen was Portland, and I got to go once to New Jersey to visit your Mom and Dad.

9:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ted: Actually it was Connecticut (not New Jersey, but you might have flown in to New Jersey or New York) and it was while we were getting ready to move west. – Tim’s dad

5:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a rumor that a guy outside of the city where my parent's live has a Terracotta soldier that he obtained before they were a big deal...interesting. ~HRB

6:22 AM  

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