Monday, April 06, 2009

Today's Vow

The bus from Xian to my city is terrible and I vow NEVER to take it again.

Today though, I was hopeful that maybe today's bus would be fast.

At the bus station, a bunch of men and women asked us where we were going hoping to find more passengers for their taxis or illegal vans and buses. Instead we marched straight to the information desk, asked if there were buses to Xifeng, went to the window and bought a ticket for 8:30 am giving us plenty of time for McDonald's.

I do not like McDonald's breakfast but thankfully this McDonald's served everything for breakfast so I had a hamburger and a fish fillet while Caitlin had a Big Mac and refillable coffee. Imagine that, refillable coffee. What a treat!

Next we went back to the bus station to catch our ride. As Caitlin was tearing the ticket to give me my half, a crowd of men gathered to catch a glimpse of our tickets. It was suddenly known by the whole station that we were going to Xifeng. Even while we were waiting at the toilets, these two women started having a conversation about us and even knew where we were going.

"You skipped the line. Those two were in front of you."
"No I didn't. Those two don't understand anything."
"Yeah they do."
"She looks Chinese. She must understand Chinese."
"They are going to Xifeng."
"Do they understand us?"
"Nah, they don't understand us."

I just laughed at the whole thing. Caitlin and I had given too much space in the bathroom line in our American way. As soon as the woman cut in front of us, we scooted to the door barring it from any other line cutters. It is important to be first in line in a bathroom coz for some reason Chinese women take like 10 minutes in the squat.

The bus was a nice spacious one, big, nice seats, clean with drapes for the windows, and a flat screen TV playing Chinese music videos.

We left right on time at 8:30 am.
But then....

We wandered around Xian for an hour and a half looking for passengers.
We pulled into a different Xian bus station and waited for 10 minutes.
We drove super slow, looking for more passengers.
We hopped onto the freeway and then got off of it after 10 minutes.
We took the crappiest local roads that had a great need for repair.
Going down a ravine, we got stopped by roadwork. Men dressed in bright orange jumpsuits were laying asphalt.

When they finally ran over the sticky black tar with their big machine with a flattening wheel, they let us pass. But then we got into another traffic jam as two lanes on a narrow curvy road tried to become 4 lanes, two lanes in one direction, and two lanes in the other direction. This caused problems for the big buses around the curves. One bus's wide mirrors ran into another bus's side. We stayed there for a good 20 minutes, watching a crowd of men argue and stuff.

We kept going stopping, letting people off, stopping letting people on to replace empty seats.

I slept the whole way, trying to sleep away the terrible, stuffy, hot, long, terrible, terrible ride!

A 3 hour trip by private car took us a freaking 7 hours!

I think the private car is worth the 50 RMB extra.

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