Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Monday, August 08, 2005

Xi'an. I finally left Urumqi this morning. I was supposed to leave Saturday morning, but I didn't feel well, so I went to the office of China Southern in Urumqi and found that it would only cost me 100RMB to change my flight. I delayed it a couple days and then went to bed.

This morning, I forgot to ask the person at the China Southern counter to give me an aisle seat. Turned out to be a good thing, because the view of Urumqi from the air is impressive. Last summer I traveled to the Southwest. The Southwestern part of China reminds me of the Pacific Northwest in the United States. But Xinjiang Province reminds me of the American desert Southwest, except that it is in the northwest part of China. It's not exactly the same, of course. Urumqi doesn't have mountains like Camelback and Squaw Peak right in the city. But the tens of thousands of quite obviously irrigated land in the middle of a vast, empty desert is not quite like any other place in China. It reminds me of Arizona.

The airport is about 50 kilometers from Xi'an, but the shuttle system is very well organized, and the ticket is only 25RMB, which isn't bad. When I got off the bus in Xi'an, I walked to the youth hostel by the South Gate of the old city, but it was packed, so they sent me to the new, overflow youth hostel. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise (most blessings are), because this is one of the nicest dormitory type accommodations I have had in China. The location is convenient, and the youth hostel restaurant is right down the hall from my room on the fourth floor. I can get a lot more work done if I don't have to walk around looking for a place to study every time.

This evening, I walked into the youth hostel restaurant, and a Dutch couple started talking to me as if they knew me. He is an art historian with the National Museum in Amsterdam. He asked me if I had just come down from the north. I told him that I had just flown in from the West. He said, "You look just like someone we were with a couple days ago!" I did not waste the opportunity:

"Was he very good looking?"



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