Friday, 13 September 2013

On Yer Bikes

Xian will always bring back memories of bikes and cyclists.  I was flabbergasted at the number of people, animals and boxes that one bike can carry.  Babies and dogs in baskets.  Young and old, all without helmets.  Some passengers perched side saddle and others clinging on precariously from behind.  Boxes and goods would be piled high.  And how on earth they managed to steer whilst using their mobiles or smoking was anyone's guess.  We were never safe from the pesky things.  They would weave in and out, even on the pavements.

Across the road from our hotel was a huge indoor market.  Take the whole of Bury Market, multiply by ten and stick a lid on.  There it was.  We took the easy way across the road using the pedestrian flyover.  The fumes from traffic mixed with the smog, did nothing for my head cold.

Once inside, we kept to a strategic pattern of moving through the market.  No more getting lost for us.  Every household item you could possibly require was on sale here.  Bright lights and even brighter coloured goods.  It was an Alladdin's Palace,  No one hassled us but once or twice, we had to jump out of the way of the bikes as they delivered their goods.

Back to the hotel to check out and cyclists of a different sort perked me up, I can tell you.  Well, I will tell you.  The whole of the cycling team from the Basque Country (as they liked it to be called) descended on to the sofa where I was filling out a Saga puzzle.  Hastily putting it in my bag and trying to look forty years younger, I recalled my Spanish lessons and said 'Hello'.  Talk about result.  These good looking fit fellows spent two hours indulging me.  Hubby was over by the piano, in a world of his own, recharging his batteries. My electricity was sparking without any sockets!! I asked one of them if he was the best rider.  He told me he was the physiotherapist.  I offered my leg for treatment but he didn't have his oils with him.  Shame.  As for the group leader - Shades of Miguel from Valencia came flooding back.  Rescued from a phone box with my friend Sue.  Ahhhh!!!!!

Oops back to China.  My little group of cyclists had not enjoyed their Chinese breakfast at the hotel.  I asked where they had eaten.  They had been on the second floor.  Meanwhile, hubby and I had been playing at 'Billy No Mates' again.  The waitress, when asked about other guests had told us exactly the same answer as before.  Three hundred were expected tomorrow.  Does tomorrow ever come??

The cyclists arranged for some food.  Not much was available. They invited us to share their meal.  I wouldn't have been able to get the fork in my mouth.  I was still all a tremble.  They reluctantly left me (slight exaggeration there).  I did have my revenge over the hen party though.

Time to leave Xian.  Our guide arrived early.  He wanted me to check his preparation for his next tour.  A few grammar changes and quite a lot of pronunciation.  Why are 's' and 'l' so difficult??

We wended our way to the station, taking final photos.  We said goodbye to our brilliant driver as bicycles prevented close parking to the station.  Big D only took us as far as a barrier.  He said we would have no problems.  He really did not know us. Thankfully a lady from Taiwan took pity on us, explaining the information board, which was all in Chinese.

Our train number kept creeping higher and higher but was still on red (No Go)
A ticket controller came over.  She asked if we were going to Chengdu. When we said 'Yes', she told us our train had just arrived on platform 2.

We passed through the waiting room door and a wave of humanity hit us.  A people tsunami carried us along, bags and baggage bumping every part of me.  I spotted an exit on the left.  A very old lady stood there.  I held out my ticket.  She looked and nodded, pointing towards the exit.  An angel indeed.  With relief we climbed on board, to be joined soon after by a lovely German couple Philip and Patricia - yes, really, another P. Time to stop now.  Peter Pointer is tired.

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