So I have no pictues to share with you guys this time. I only have a story of frustration and anger. Anger at a country that censors nearly all forms of mass communication and denies the free and fair exchange of information.
ARGHHHHH! Seriously, I'm really pissed. Why you ask? Well a number of reason. The first of which is that I have just undergone the single worse travel experience in my life! So we need to get from Beijing to Xi'an and the cheapest way to get there is by train. First of all the train station in Beijing is a mad house. It's full of locals all clammering their way to the front of the line, cutting in front of anyone who isn't vigilant enough to physically block the offender from stealing a spot ahead of them. It's hot, it's sweaty, and my god don't they have deodorant in this country!
Then theres the language barrier. So there's nearly 30-35 windows at the train station where you can buy tickets. 1 of these windows is dedicated to serving foreign english speaking tourists. You're probably thinking thats pretty convenient right. Well it would be, except that the sign that tells you which window is for english speakers is actually written in CHINESE! Yeah a lot of help that was. So after an hour or so of bumping elbows and yelling at cutters we finally managed to get our tickets.
Unfortunately the only seats available were "hard seats". Now the seats themselves weren't so terrible because I've been on my share of cross pacific flights where I've had to sit in a seat for 12 or more hours. The problem is that when you go "hard seat" on a Chinese train, it means you're sharing a cabin with a ton of locals, all of whom constantly chit chat on their phones, sleep in the aisles, and stink up the place with their constant and habitual smoking habits. There's a sign on every door saying NO SMOKING for gods sake. Seriously there were infants, INFANTS, in the cabin with us. All inhaling that wonderful unfiltered second hand smoke. We endured this for 12 HOURS! None of which we spent sleeping. Needless to say we weren't in a very good mood when we got to Xi'an.
Next issue. Me and Chantra were supposed to go back to the states in June. We chose to extend our trip because we desperately, desperately wanted to see Lhasa and the great Tibetan Plateau. We originally had planned to cross from Nepal into Tibet back in late March. We had our tickets booked, and our guide ready, and everything was go. Except the Chinese government decided to close Tibet to foreign travellers because it was the anniversary of the Tibetan peoples 60 years of peaceful resistance. Well isn't that just dandy.
So now June comes around and we're thinking, well... lets try to get into Tibet from the Chinese side. So we extend our trip, pay all the extra money and fees, and head into China for the sole purpose of going to Tibet. And wouldn't you know it, after 12 grueling hours on an over night train with the rudest people in the world, we arrive in Xi'an only to be told by the authorities that once AGAIN Tibet is closed to foreign tourists! When we asked why, they said it was because of the 90 year anniversary of the founding of the Peoples Communist Part of China, and that they're afraid the Tibetan's might protest. YOU SON OF A BITCH! YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME! Twice denied entry! I hate China. You can all go to hell.