Sunday, December 28, 2008
China Trip Day 6: Bye Xian, Hello Kunming
Once again, we had the pleasure of sleeping in. We woke up and took care of all our packing and then checked out. We left our bags at the front desk and set out to explore Xian one last time. Our first stop was a dumpling shop right next to the hostel. We both grabbed a dumpling to go. It was pretty good and really cheap. Like 10 cents or something. Then we headed over to the city wall to climb it. We were told you couldn't go up the wall via the south gate, which was the closest to our hostel, but that ended up not being the case as we later found out.

Getting up on the wall was costly. 40 RMB. Once up on the wall it was pretty empty. There were a few tourists wondering around but that was about it. One thing we saw that we weren't expecting were a ton of camels and crazy colored statues. It seems that up on the wall they are preparing for the Chinese New Years. So there are all these workers putting together these crazy displays. You can go around the wall by either walking, renting a bike, or renting a van to drive you around it. We were considering biking out way along the wall but it was kind of pricey to rent a bike. 50 RMB which was way more expensive than listed in the lonely planet said it would be. On top of the price, the bike didn't look to sturdy, so we decided we would just walk to a corner and then turn back.

During our walk, we managed to catch a glimpse of the Big Goose Pagoda. The view was a bit hazy from the pollution, but it was still a decent view. We also ended up going into the South Gate. It's sort of sneaky because you can't really tell if you can get in it or not. I just happened to see a couple walking out and decided to go in where they came out. They had come out of what appeared to be a wall from the outside of the gate. Inside was a fancy gift shop and stairs so you could wall around the top floor of the gate. From the south gate we headed back down to street level and headed to the Muslim Quarter one last time. For once, we weren't full and could eat more things than normal. To start we had some spicy lamb skewers, then dumplings, then a fried pita sandwich, some sugar covered dates, and topped it off with a strange sugar soaked bread. We also did a bit of gift browsing. I wanted to get some nice gifts for people back home. In particular I wanted to get my grandma a spoon, but luck was not on my side. I did manage to find some old coin replicas that I think my grandpa would like. The dealer wanted 65 RMB for the set but that was too much for me, so I tried my hand at bargaining for the first time in China. I managed to get the price down to 25 RMB. Not to bad with a starting price of 65. We slowly made our way back to the hostel around 4pm.

Although our flight to Kunming wasn't until 7:45, we wanted to leave well in advance of our flight given our last experience at the airport with all the craziness and stress. We grabbed a cab rather than taking the hostel shuttle as the cab was cheaper and significantly easier to catch than in Shanghai. We got to the airport really early but decided to head straight to the gate anyway. The line for security screening was really long but it was because they were individually checking everyone with a wand. While we were in line, a few people in front of us, there was apparently an attractive man going though the line. Janet told me that while we where standing there,all the ladies working our line were checking him out and saying how lucky the girl doing the pat down (which was really through) was. It was really cute.

On the way to out gate, I picked up some cough drops. I also ate some tomato flavored potato chips that I picked up from the grocery store in Xian while Janet played with my DS. While we were waiting, a big groups of foreigners arrived, all with instruments. After a bit, the group opened up their cases and started playing music randomly, in the middle of the airport! Finally it was time to board the plane, which is not all that interesting, but it was the first time since our vacation started that our flight actually left on time. It's a miracle! While on board, we got an in flight meal of mikan, ham and misc. veggies, an orange muffin, and some local break that looked a bit like a rice cracker. We arrived in Kunming around 10 and took a taxi straight to the hostel. It was super easy to catch a cab at Kunming. Signs were clear and the taxi ride was cheap. Only 25 RMB where as the other taxi rides up to that point had cost more like 80. The hostel itself was a bit too 'hostel like' for my tastes. It was noisy and there were people playing pool and ping pong in the courtyard area. We checked in and asked about getting a taxi back to the airport the next morning at 5am. She said we should be able to catch one on the street and wrote us a little card saying 'please take us to the airport' in Chinese. At this point we were informed that the hostel had no running water as a water main had broken earlier in the day. It kinda sucked as we weren't able to shower or bush our teeth or anything. That and it made the bathrooms smell awful. And they were dirty too. At least the inside of the room was nice and they had lockers with locks provided to keep your stuff safe. Before we hit the sack we paid a visit to the hostel's bar to grab something to eat. I wanted to get some tea, but because there was no water, I couldn't. This is the second time since coming to China that I've wanted to order tea but couldn't. China being the capital of tea and all.....ha!

We shared some potato pasta dish that was really tasty and I got a ginger tea (which didn't need water as they make a big vat of it every morning). It took forever for it to come out. After eating, we crashed. We would be up again in less that 5 hours. Good thing we took care of sleeping in the 2 days prior.

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