The two times we took a taxi in Beijing we never got our change back, despite our protesting. In the end both the driver and we knew there was nothing we could do. We mention this as a backdrop for our arrival to Xining, where we took a taxi to Lete Youth Hostel. The bill came to 25 Yuan and because we only had a 20 and a 10 we were certain that the bill would really turn out to be 30Yuan. We were delightfully surprised to get our change. This, coupled with friendly smiles and waves from two Muslim women food vendors when getting into our taxi, was a nice way to start our Xining experience.
Our 20 minute ride to our hostel included high rise upon high rise under construction. It was actually quite incredible. It makes Calgary look like a kid’s sandbox. Rows and rows of concrete blocks with cranes on them in what can only be described as a dirt playground lacking in color and adding a grayness to the air. From where are they expecting so many people to fill these concrete apartments?
Keeping with the high-rise motif, even our hostel was on the 16th floor. Due to the ever present MSG in the food, which kept giving Ligeia headaches, we were very happy that our hostel had a kitchen we could use for a small fee.
This of course meant going to a supermarket which turned out to be a very interesting experience. They had a variety of already prepared food in large blue and white porcelain pots with glass lids so you could see what was inside. There were vegetables that we didn’t recognize and were curious about. An example of this was a bunch of green stems and at the top it looked like beans before they turn into a bean. We also saw something that later we learned was called asparagus lettuce. I had never heard of that before but it tasted very good.
There was a huge variety of pasta in package-less bundles tied with plastic bands. They came in all sorts of colors and thicknesses.
We were most amazed at the egg section, having never seen so many choices. The varying sizes and colors makes our choice of white and brown seem quite boring. They’re were blue small ones and black and white marbled ones. It was like Easter Sunday afternoon!
Our favorite part of the shopping experience was finding foods we recognized in what seemed to be the “ethnic” aisle. We felt so cultured buying penne pasta.
In other news, Ligeia has discovered that after getting used to the squat toilets, she actually prefers them. Mindy, on the other hand, will stick to her familiar sit down ones thank you very much.
Also in Xining Mindy discovered to her horror that nhl.com is blocked in China. Please someone email her and tell her how her Leafs are doing.
We take an over night train to Lhasa tomorrow in the hard sleeper class. We got 2 middle bunks again which were not our first choice but we’re just happy to be on the train. Mindy got sick while in Xining, which naturally lent itself to becoming quite homesick. Hopefully she’ll feel better soon.
Ligeia and Mindy :):)