We were tired enough to sleep most of the night: woke up briefly at 2 AM or so, but went back to sleep and slept until 6. Then we uploaded pictures onto the computer and looked at them, drank tea, did various small things. Around 7 we went down to a sumptuous breakfast buffet in a sumptuous hall. Dumplings (both baozi and jiaozi), cooked vegetables, rice porridge, soy milk, cereal, pastries, fruits (including dragon fruit and dried kiwis), bacon and sausage, toast, cheese, hot chocolate, noodles, interesting breads, carrot/apple/orange juices. We ate many helpings until we were quite stuffed full.
Then we took off for a walk down East Nanjing Road, a nifty pedestrian zone that people have begun using in particularly wonderful and ebullient ways.
There was a long row of signs with cartoons on how to be "wenming" (civilized and polite) for the upcoming Expo.
Many were very funny.
Just as funny was this fellow who was gravely examining them.
Here is me hugging a magnolia flower.
After this nice walk, we headed back, checked out of the hotel, and went to the airport for the flight to Xi'an. As before, I was impressed by how even on a short two-hour flight, we got served a sumptuous lunch. Chinese domestic flights are so much more awesome than their US counterparts.
In Xi'an, a bus took us straight to our hotel. We had paid a bit extra for a room with a view, and it does not disappoint.
The Bell Tower, with its ring of flowers, is a magnet for swooping swallows by day and fluttering bats by night. When I am awake at 2 AM (as seems to be a regular occurrence, unfortunately), I like to look at the taxis going around and around the rotary. Actually, they are probably not going around and around, but because all taxis look the same, that's the impression I got.
We checked in and rested a little, then headed down to Lao Sun Jia restaurant for a Xi'an specialty dish called Yangrou paomo. Aside from some little cold dishes, that's the only thing the restaurant serves. First we each got a bowl and two dense white breads. We were instructed to tear this up "small small." We started in, rather naturally, tearing them in halves, then quarters, then smaller.
We had scraps about the size of pennies by the time a guy at the neighboring table (pictured in the background above) peered over and scolded (in Chinese): "Too big!" I said, "Still too big?" And he said grumpily, "It won't taste good that way!" He held up his bowl which had bread pieces about the size of crumbs. His dinner companion, whom he seemed to have brought along to help with the bread-tearing, since she was working on his breads too, was scraping minute pieces off a mostly intact half-bread. Hmm. Pocket of Bolts and I had a lot more work to do.
We were down to about the size of peas when PoB voted for quitting. He said the people at the table behind ME were less perfectionistic about the whole thing, and they seemed to be enjoying it fine. Actually, they were a boyfriend and girlfriend having a big fight. (I couldn't see them, but I could hear them.)
When the bread was torn up enough, we took the bowls up to the front counter and they filled up the rest with a kind of stew, lamb and glass noodles. We had condiments we could add ourselves: chopped cilantro, red pepper sauce, and pickled garlic. The overall effect was surprisingly successful. It tasted like a comfort food, so warm and starchy.
After eating it, though, we were deeply full. We walked around the neighborhood a little bit, trying to drum up some interest in dessert, but not succeeding. Pocket of Bolts: "My stomach is like, 'What? Did you just eat a loaf of bread?'" Incidentally, so far our stomachs have been just fine.
Around 8 I got deeply deeply sleepy again, so we headed back to the hotel where I could barely summon the energy to brush my teeth and get into bed before I was out cold.
By the way, blogger access is blocked here. I can only post this by logging on to the VPN from school. I am curious whether the e-mail-to-post option would work, but a bit too busy right now to find out.