On Saturday morning we said goodbye to Jia and Beijing and headed to Xi’an. Packing, the taxi to the airport, check-in and security were all uneventful, as was the 2 hour flight. I’ve had a few folks ask about where we stayed, as well as more specific travel questions about transportation and the like. I was thinking I would write more about all that in a final post to wrap up our Chinese adventure.
I recommend the Airport Bus 1, which leaves every 20 minutes between 6 and 6. A ticket costs ￥25 and it takes about one hour to get to the city.
On the number one bus there are no stops en-route to the terminus in front of the Melody Hotel, which is conveniently located at the beginning of West Street near the Bell Tower. As long as there is an arriving flight, there will be a bus, so you needn’t worry about arriving late at night or early in the morning. I think usually the airport bus is the best choice to get to the city, UNLESS you have a of of luggage. Of course WE had a lot of luggage and camera gear and I didn’t want to lug it all from The Bell Tower to our hostel, so we had the folks at The China Guide set us up with a driver. It was definitely not the cheapest way to go, but certainly it saved some brain cells. I think if you are young and on a tight budget, the bus is still the best alternative.
一号巴士不会在中途停车，而是直接去终点站，Melody 酒店的前坪。它位于西街的入口处，离钟楼不是很远。 只要有航班抵达，那里就会有巴士接应，所以你不需要担心因为在深夜到达或者在清晨到达而没有车坐。我认为，大体上机场巴士是去市区最好的选择，除非你有非常多的行李。当然我们有很多行李和摄影设备，并且我并不想从钟楼那个地方再把行李拖到我住的酒店去，所以我们联系了“中国指南”的人，让他们给我们派了一辆车。这完全不是最便宜的方式，但是它省了很多事。我觉得，如果你年轻并且预算吃紧的话，机场巴士绝对是最佳的选择。
I didn’t write about our hostel in Beijing (Leo Hostel), mostly because I was underwhelmed. It wasn’t terrible, but I’m fairly confident you can find better accommodations at a comparable price. We had a four-bed dorm room with toilet en suite. My biggest complaints? The “hot” water took forever, at least 15 minutes, and even then only got to a temperature I’ll generously call lukewarm. In Beijing, in December, you’ll want hot water. To add the the frustration, there was a nice little sign above our western toilet, pleading with guests not to put the toilet paper into the toilet, asking us instead to put the used paper into the trash bin beside the toilet.
Yes, I have traveled the world and have seen this before, but I was hoping for something better in a city that just hosted the Olympics. The beds were also Chinese-hard, which can be tough for older folks. In fairness, I should say that Natty, Nick and Jia seemed to take it all much more in-stride than I did. On the plus side, the staff was friendly and helpful and the location near Tiananmen and The Forbidden city can’t be beat. Like I said, it wasn’t terrible. I chose to stay in hostels in Beijing and Xi’an to save some cash, ensuring the kids could get some stuff to take home for family and friends. Despite hours of on-line research and reading what may seem to be every review available, I’ve found that staying at a hostel can be a bit of a crap shoot.
是的，我游历了很多国家，之前也见到过这个情况，但是我希望一个刚刚举办过奥运会的城市能做得更好一些。床铺也是中国的风格——硬，这对老人们来说可能有些难以接受。平心而论，我应该说Natty, Nick 和Jia看起来比我更加从容。 给旅馆加分的地方是，服务人员非常友好、乐于助人并且旅馆就在天安门和故宫附近，这个地理优势是无可挑剔的。就像我说过的，它并不差。我选择住在北京和西安的旅馆里是为了节省一些现金，保证孩子们能买一些纪念的东西带回家给亲戚朋友。
Conversely, our hostel in Xi’an, Xiang Zimen Youth Hostel, was much nicer. There was an endless supply of hot water with a worry-free flushable toilet.It was clean, with soft beds and hardwood floors and dare I say, ambiance, perhaps the rarest of Chinese commodities. The price was about $33US a night for the three of us, yep $11 bucks a piece. A couple of caveats, if you are allergic to cats, Xiang Zimen probably isn’t the place for you, as there were at least 10 of them running around. Also, while both hostels had free wireless internet connections, the connections were not accessible from our rooms, only from the lobby and other common areas such as bars or restaurants, not so bad, just don’t expect to be surfing from your bed. Below is our room just before they rolled the third bed in and below that, the common area just outside our room.
I had scheduled our third day to be a fairly easy one. I wanted to give the kids a bit of a break after their trans-Pacific flight and the two packed days in Beijing. We took a mid-morning flight, arrived in Xi’an about 12:30 in the afternoon and were settled into the hostel by 2:00. After a bit of a rest, we took a leisurely walk out in search of The Great Mosque, supposedly located somewhere in The Muslim Quarter. We never found the mosque, but did spend a couple of hours exploring the Muslim Quarter on a spectacular, unseasonably warm afternoon featuring clear, deep blue skies. Everywhere we went we came across people preparing food for the evening dinner crowd. Here’s a bit of what we saw…
We eventually managed to work our way back toward out hostel and after an early dinner everybody got caught up with email, the kids called their mother, and I think we were all asleep before 10. Next up, Day IV – The Terra-Cotta Warriors, which I think may have been my favorite “touristy” thing we did during the time the kids were here.
On a sad side note, our little dog has been very sick for a few weeks now. For some reason no one here can seem to figure out, Chewy is riddled with bladder and kidney stones. She’s peeing a lot of blood and is becoming weaker every day. There is no “real” veterinarian here and nothing that’s been done so far has had a positive effect. If we were back home I’m pretty sure she would have been on the road to recovery by now, but here in Liuzhou, none of the idiots posing as vets have been confident in either a diagnosis nor a treatment.
In fact, each place we take her, we get a bit of a different story. It’s tough to see her slipping away and be in so much pain and to be able to do little about it. I am waiting on a reply from a vet back in the states to see if there is something I can do myself. In the meantime, we’ll appreciate any prayers and positive vibes for one of the absolute sweetest dogs ever.