Tuesday, September 06, 2005

today: booyao mo'fo!

we woke up early this morning to catch the bus to mount huashan 2 hours away from xian. huashan is one of the 5 sacred mountains in china. it was featured in one of the past "amazing race" seasons, and being a sucker for beautiful places i knew that i really wanted to go there.

so i asked at the reception at the hotel for someone to write the info in chinese script and everyone here seemed to be confused as to how we would get there on public transportation. regardless, we headed out and got pointed to numerous locations. along the way we kept being asked if we were going to huashan, so that we could join their minibuses and probably get conned into something or dropped off at the wrong place. with everyone after us, for the minibuses, an old lady with no hands who wanted our food, people selling maps and everything else, i really got annoyed. it seemed that no amount of "no" (booyao) was enough and i really felt like sreaming and running away. it was bound to happen, of course...

regardless, we managed to find the bus going there. shame on lonely planet for giving such awful descriptions on how to get places. we hopped on the legit minibus and waited, for over 1.5h, for the bus to fill up. see, these buses do not have a schedule. they leave when full, and when completely full only. so at 11am, we decided to give up on the mountain since we did not knowhow much longer the wait would be and francois had to be back in town for his train at 6pm. it was disapointing to skip the mountain but i really did not want to waste a day waiting in a bus for it to fill up and only end up spending 30 minutes on the mountain. and i didn't want to go through the entire thing again that evening.

so instead we headed out to the big goose pagoda, outside of the city walls. the place was very chinese: cold, big, and not very moving. i have to say also that this was by far the worst pagoda i have ever seen. pagodas belong to buddhist temples and they usually represent the 5 elements (what the 5th one is, who knows). this one though looked like it belonged in a military station. it was all made of brick, with no detailing whatsoever. it did not feel like it was meant to be in a temple at all.

the other frustration is that was paid Y25 to get into the site and were beiing asked for another Y20 once into the site to get into the pagoda and get to the top of it. the guidebook said it was supposed to be Y5. i really don't understand why chinese tourist sights refuse to charge an admission ticket that covers the sight. often you find yourself paying and having to pay again and over again. i guess that they can do what they want, since people still pay. but i found the Y20 (about $3 canadian) to be insulting based on the principle and refused to pay it.

afterwards we went for more dumplings (i have been having tons of these lately, i think i might actually be needing a break... and will not be eating them for dinner!) and to the history museum. the place was huge nd had tons of artifacts, which were badly described. most of everything in there was either a "cooking vessel", a "wine vessel" or a bronze mirror. they even had an entire room, gigantic room, filled only with mirrors. talk about imaginative. but it was neet to see where the discovery of gold, bronze, silver, glass and etc occured. and some of the stuff was really pretty.

i am now alone in xian, and have one day left here. i will try my darnest to get to the big buddha tomorrow, located 3 hours away from here. and then, that night i fly into kunming and will arrive there that night, or perhaps, early the next morning, i am not sure. i think that doing a 53h train ride as a 2h flight was my best idea of this entire trip.

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