Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Off To Xian

As part of my resolve to wash my hands of Beijing, I didn't take this day to explore. But again, not because I don't love the city, but because I have so many things to do. Today was a – shudder – planning day.

I know I've been doing this for eight months now (longer if you count before I left) but I still get nervous when I book flights, and such. Not as bad as it used to be – but that irrational fear that I might book it for the wrong day, or year, or whatever still haunts me. It's hard to spend hundreds of dollars in one go for something intangible (the promise of a flight later on down the road) and just be cool with it.

But that's what I had to do today, and it took hours. I woke up at eight, and then was finally done at 11. Sure there was half an hour of magical free long distance phone calling, but that was it.

What did I need to book? More than I got done, unfortunately – but I have some more stops to do the rest. There was a printer here, and that made it a crucial place to get things going. New Zealand was on the docket. And it took care of itself in some marvelous ways.

I now have a flight in, a place to stay in Auckland, a bus to Wellington (where I confirmed I could stay with a buddy of mine), a flight from Wellington to Queenstown – as it was cheaper than the ferry ordeal... well, close to it, for the distance I want to cover and my time frame – and then a bus to Christchurch, as well as hostels for both those places. I then figured out my flight from Christchurch to Melbourne, and arranged for my Australian visa-ish thing. Not to mention I had to plot out the cheapest ways to traverse New Zealand and then bridge to Australia.

But – yawn – I'm done now, and it seems so much simpler after every thing's planned, printed, and pasted in my book of future travel stuff.

I still need to figure out Australia, and then plot my way to Buffalo in America, where the final stretch of this trip will take place. And – while, yes it is America, it should be a good one. Road Tripping, here I come.

So – planning done I killed time until noon when I could call my mom and wish her a Happy Mother's Day (just flipping past midnight her time). And with that done – I wouldn't want to call while it was still May 8th there, never mind that it's the 9th here – I was treated to a lovely lunch.

One of my host's Chinese friends was here and he cooked up a storm. A tasty delicious storm of stormy goodness.

He also taught me a few things about the written language. I keep trying to pick up pieces of it wherever I can. The more you know, and all that. Also, as I want to learn Japanese, this helps. The characters are the same, though they are pronounced in different ways.

Now I'm just writing emails, surfing some internets, and running down the clock . At five in the afternoon, I'll head to a taxi downstairs, get a ride to the train station, and then spend three hours there waiting for my train to come. Apparently I have a soft sleeper for this trip (that was what the woman at the station, the words of which I could not make out, must have said. She must have said only Soft Sleepers were left.) So I will have a tv in my room. Look the hard sleeper was good enough, this soft one sounds creepy and weird. But there is said to be a better waiting room, and perhaps a plug socket for every bed? If that's the case I'll perhaps get caught up on blog writing – that Great Wall entry you've read? It's not yet written.

Out of order blogging! Crazy!

Well that's that. Time to wait for the train.

Well, there was no lovely seating area – that would have cost extra. But I did discover that for less than a dollar I could get five McNuggets. Many McNuggets were devoured, as was a strawberry sundae. The McIce Cream tastes different and better, over here. I recommend it. I know, I know – more McFood – but it's cheap, and it's there. I had a beef bowl (rice and beef) as well, see so that counts.

On the train I finished reading “Can You Keep a Secret.” Indeed that is another novel by the Shopaholic author (different character) – this book didn't make me angry like the others one do, however, as this character isn't a complete and utter screw up. This one you feel sorry for, and doesn't deserve all the terrible things that happen to her.

With that book done, I was down to one more that I had just picked up from the person whom I was staying with in Beijing. Let me break it down for you – it's about someone who loses their job, and travels back in time meeting up with famous people throughout history. Heroes such as, Harry Truman, King Solomon, and Anne Frank. Uh huh. Anne Frank the hero. Not Anne Frank the annoying little girl who steals boys from her sister and is an all around pain – but because she died during the holocaust and happened to write a book (many people who died during the holocaust wrote books – in fact Anne knew her book was going to be published while she was writing it – that's why she wrote and re-wrote various entries) she is a hero. Don't get me wrong, she's a good character, and had a hard life – but hero? Like Harry Truman (wait why's he a hero?) and King Solomon (uhh... pattern...)

The book itself is painfully written, but it's all I have so I press on. But it's so awful, and laden with religious BS with the dad telling his family they'll make it, and a tear falling by his cheek when he noticed it was 12:01am and that he'd just missed his daughters birthday by being at work and blah blah blah... I tell you, it's as if it were written by the authors of The Watchtower – or whatever the Jewish equivalent of that is.

And having Harry Truman appear as if he was making a good and noble decision for the betterment of all, before eradicating the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians – well that was too much.

Still, read on I will. I want to see how he's going to deal with the fact that he has to tell Anne she's gonna die – or if she'll 'already know,' and that she must just, 'be strong.'

I also wonder if he'll run into her in the camps, or in the annex.

Well time will tell.

And the book could only annoy me for so long, as – after a pleasant chat with an Australian couple sharing my car – a Chinese man came in, lay in his bed, and promptly started to snore.

All through the night.

Curse you Snorflog! Curse you!

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