Tuesday July 24 Today was a day to relax. We had most of the day to ourselves, while Wladyka was at work. We slept in, and took advantage of the fact we could do our laundry at his apartment! After two weeks of washing the bare minimum in the sink, that was a welcome change. Once Wladyka was back from work, we headed out for some dinner and then tried out the Changshu clubbing scene. The place we went to was completely different than I was expecting – mostly tables set up where you can kind of stand around and dance and share drinks with friends. Still, there was a little dance floor and a couple of girls convinced me to join them there. It was definitely a weird experience for me – yet again my height made me something of a novelty. Lots of people came over just to say hi and see how they stacked up (the highlight: a guy who put his hands on my shoulders and then jumped to get eye to eye with me). That is beginning to wear thin (really, I’m not that tall!), and I was ready to go after a while.
Tuesday July 17 We grabbed an airport shuttle bus from the Xi’an railway station to the airport, and then took a flight to Chengdu from Xi’an. They loaded the plane, and then due to an “air traffic jam” we had to wait on the tarmac for about an hour before we were cleared for take-off, and eventually we made it. Mike’s friend Kai, and one of his employees, Weilin picked us up from the airport, which was great. Mike was wondering if he was going to be able to recognize Kai after 8 years, but we found him no problem. They had set us up with a hotel and already checked us in, so we just dropped our bags off in the room and then went out for a delicious dinner with Kai’s wife, and Weilin’s husband Tao. It was pretty cool to meet them all!
We spent our first week in China in Beijing and Xi’an, and saw many world-famous sites!
Monday July 9 We arrived in Beijing and took the airport railway into town (another city with airport rail!). We dropped off our stuff in the hutong hostel, and then after a quick nap decided to walk around to find a city map and something to eat. We headed down to ‘tourist central’ – Wangfujing street and its surrounding area. We asked for a map at the tourist information centre and got one of the area with most of the touristy stuff. After taking in the sights (scorpions still moving on a stick, anyone?) we played it safe and got some dumplings at Donghuamen snack street, and some roasted corn on a stick from Wangfujing snack street.