With enough dirt embedded in our riding suits that they could be used to support plant life, the time had come to get them washed. Since we’re in China, there must be a Chinese laundry nearby. In an alley near the hotel we found one. The husband shook his head as he examined the stains and filth covering our suits while his wife wrote up a receipt. We did our best to demonstrate that we didn’t expect perfection, just the removal of about two pounds of dirt.
Number one task accomplished, it was time to play tourist. Most of our travel companions were on a bus headed to see the famous Terracotta warriors. Since Larry & I had seen them five years ago, and Larry back in 1988, we used the day to see what else Xi’an has to offer. Tipped off by Kevin, we headed for the calligraphers’ and artists’ area. The shops selling art brushes were amazing! From extremely fine to 4” diameter, these creations of horse hair were art work in themselves. My Grandma Ruby, an artist, would have been in awe of the selection. If she were alive today, I’d be bringing her some paint brushes from here. Calligraphers in action lined the streets.
Always keeping our eyes open for a treasure to bring home, Larry noticed a hallway with many wall hangings decorating the walls. A woman was tending her shop. A young boy, possibly her grandson, was practicing his characters. Every square inch was covered with layers of paintings adorned with calligraphic messages. One featuring plum blossoms in just the right colors for our Georgia living/music room captivated both of us. If, and this is a big if, it survives the 8,000 mile voyage tightly wrapped in my pannier(saddle bag), it will be visible whenever I practice trombone.
Xi’an is an old, walled city. Larry & I had heard about rickshaw rides on the top of the wall, around the city’s perimeter. An older couple led us to the wall’s access point. As have been most Chinese, these folks were very helpful and eager to help. Their age had us thinking of the seismic changes in their society that they have experienced during their lives.
When we saw large golf carts available for tours, we abandoned the rickshaw idea. Little did we know, the golf cart would be packed as tightly as my panniers. All locals, or at least Chinese, including a couple with maybe a granddaughter, were our fellow riders.
Marketing messages translated into English can bring chuckles as did this one where Larry gave me a muscle pose. For the first time in our lives, we saw a waiting line to enter a Pizza Hut restaurant. Four shopping malls surround the Bell Tower intersection. We explored a seven-story department store. It seemed like a Chinese version of Macy’s.
A couple of day’s ago, Larry experienced abdominal pain that he had not had since recovering from chemotherapy. Since we will be going ten days without being in a city with significant medical care, Kevin recommended that he get checked out. John, our Chinese guide, went with us to the hospital, the same hospital where Martin had gone with John after breaking his collar one and ribs yesterday. The same ER doctor attended both patients. I wonder if John was able to negotiate a group discount!
American health care could learn a lot from the Chinese: speed and cost. Within 15 minutes of entering the ER door, Larry had seen the ER doc and was in the sonography room next door. Two sonographers probed, palpitated, and printed out the results. Although Larry had feared appendicitis, the tests showed Larry to be normal. I think this is the first time he has ever been described as such. Total cost for the ER, doctor, and sonograms, $13.
Chinese health care could learn a lot from Americans: privacy and cleanliness. The ER was swamped with patients and everyone was hovering over the ER doc(guy sitting at computer), listening to all sordid details. Whomever pushed their paperwork in front of the doctor seemed to get the attention. In the hall, gurneys with ripped covers looked like germ havens. Larry stuck his head into the “Injection Room” and promptly decided that he would have nothing to do involving needles in this hospital.
Our riding suits turned out beautifully. We’re ready to head west tomorrow morning.
19-Jun Xi’an rest day
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