Team Journal, October 16

Saturday, October 16 – Gwendolyn

Thought for the day: “Hop on the bus, Gus.” – Paul Simon

After Friday’s various health adventures, we were all relieved to wake up Saturday feeling much, much better. All the same, we decided to take it easy.

To that end, we set out to take a taxi to the North Gate – Greg remembered that there was a McDonald’s on the north side that we saw from the top of the wall last week. The only problem was that once we got to the North Gate, we didn’t know if the McDonald’s was east or west from there. The view from the ground was completely different! We asked directions, but understanding directions is still a skill in development.

So we walked and walked. Finally we decided that we should try to hail a cab. No luck. Ultimately, we ended up in a motorcycle cab. He took us through the Muslim Quarter to the Drum Tower and a McDonald’s. Hooray!

After all the tummy troubles yesterday, chicken nuggets and French fries really hit the spot. Greg was thrilled to find a hot and spicy chicken sandwich – something that McD’s doesn’t have in the U.S.

Fortified with lunch, we explored the Market and came away with “qi paos” (Chinese dresses/tops) for the girls and various gifts for family and friends at home.

Then it was time to find a cab to go back to the Empress Hotel. No luck on the main street – not a taxi in sight. We decided to try out luck on a side street and so we walked, making our way toward the East Gate. No luck. By this time, everyone was hot, tired and cranky. Still no taxis. They either had people in them, or were not taking passengers. It was one of those situations where our communication skills were not up to the task and there were rules in play that we did not know or understand. But this time, I was carrying Rebecca. We decided to make our way back to the main road again.

As we rounded the corner, we saw the Hyatt Hotel – a welcome oasis. (Did I mention that some of us where in dire need of a restroom?) We went inside, to use the facility, rest and ask the English-speaking staff for help. Lo and behold, the #8 bus stopped right outside and would take us home for 1 yuan each. Hooray!

Refreshed and armed with this new knowledge we sallied forth to wend our way home quickly and conveniently thanks to wonderful public transportation.

When we got home, we vegged out by watching Spongebob Squarepants on TV. It makes as much sense to grown-ups in Mandarin as it does in English. Then out to a dinner of noodles and fried rice. All-in-all a very good day, if a little more grueling than we had intended. Through it all, we found the residents of Xi’an to be friendly and helpful. It was our own inability to communicate effectively that caused our difficulties. Now we know: Take the bus!

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