Shaanxi Province: Day 1 (23 Dec)


Its tough to wake up today. Just got back from Taipei last evening, and now I'm at Pudong airport waiting for domestic flight MU292 for Xian. Original plan was to fly there and back by train. But I think I should maximise my time at the destination.


I'm travelling with relatively light amounts of gear. A 45 litre backpack, with a smaller 20 litre backpack inside taking up a third of the space. Need the smaller pack for the night stay up Huashan. So thats checked in. Bringing 2 small camera packs, one filled with nocturnal optics and packed with 10 rolls of film, GPS and other little accessories. And the waist pouch with the D2H and M6 with their default lenses. Nothing more than a 40mm f2 ULTRON for the Nikon D2H and 35mm Summicron ASPH for the Leica. Its already starting to be quite heavy! Was hesitating between the D2H and Ricoh GR Digital. Oh, and the lonely planet guide book stuffed into my Carhartt Arctic Duck coat. This time I will bring along a thermos flask, made the mistake the last trip into a cold region. Temp estimated in the low single digits, maybe even below freezing at night. I'm prepared.


1449hrs: Xian Airport Went through the airport so quickly I did not have time to see what the name of this airport is. An extremely fogstacular day today, in fact so foggy we only got to see the runway on landing path. So foggy that even the luggage conveyor area are foggy. Like the game Myst. mysty airport. Outside the airport, bus stop number 1 has the bus that goes all the way to the drum tower in the center of Xian. Destination seems to be Melody hotel. Price: 26rmb. Frequency: no idea at all. Seems to be rather often. Retrospectively speaking, was a good idea I did not bring more than a roll of colour film. Theres no colour here today. Just fog, or maybe industrial smog. Can't tell, everything here smells of combustion exhaust or cigarette smoke.


1755hrs: Muslim Quarters Checked into the hotel a while ago, staying at the City Hotel close to the bell tower. The airport bus would stop around the corner so it is very convenient. The muslim quarters are close to the bell tower, actually its just next to the drum tower. A whole row of chinese with muslim caps, not sure ifs real. They sell nuts aplenty here. Anything you can think of. Plenty of restaurants selling skewered meat and pancakes with minced meat and vegetables. Am now eating in a restaurant with floors that looks like its never been cleaned. Ordered 10 mini sticks of bbq lamb, a plate of thingy (sorry! My index finger did the choosing) and a plate of cold noodles in peanut sauce. The cold noodle looks a little like udon noodle. Tastes ok, nothing special. Maybe I should try others next time. The meal came up to 10rmb. Anyway, halfway thru the roll of film when it started snowing. More like sleet. The roads become wet and messy, and I cannot remove my camera. There were a couple of nice shots, or potentially nice shots, but I dont think people here like to be photographed. Steam gushing out of woks and ovens, cooks barely visible. Too bad, maybe another day I will get THE SHOT.


1857hrs: Back at Hotel The uncooperating weather forced me to return to the hotel. Melting ice wets everything it touches. At least my camera bag has a weather cover and the new Arcteryx day pack is rain proof! And proven too. Came back with a pack of almond nuts. No idea how heavy, anywhere between 400-500g according to my computation, or guess, and for 20 rmb. Bet I will be nibbling at it during the trips ahead! Anyway, wilk probably make today an easy day, shower and sleep early to prepare for tomorrow.


2130hrs: Hotel, of course At 7pm there was a knock on the door and they were distributing the breakfast coupon and distributing newspapers. Theres something about chinese newspapers. They almost always seem to be distributed in the evening. Of course I didn't take it. Don't read chinese at all. Anyhow, watching some CCTV right now. A live show about drinking tea. The audiences definitely can't hide their boredom! This is amusing.