My recent days have been filled with random bus rides. Since I am on vacation for the Spring Festival, I finally have time to wander without worrying about making it back in time for a class or a meeting. This has left me free to choose a bus line and a direction, and then to see where it goes. Coupling this with an English language GPS map of the city has significantly increased my awareness of where I am located.
On one of my first bus trips, Jeremy and I rode the number 24 to the Qujiang Bookstore. It took almost an hour, and we were wondering how we would know where the bookstore was when we got off the bus. Once we jumped off the bus steps and looked up, we realized we needn’t have worried. The Qujiang Bookstore was huge, and it was right in front of us. We spent a good part of the afternoon browsing on all the different floors. Of course, if we could read Chinese, our pleasure would have been so much greater. In the end, we still managed to walk out with two books each, two coffees, and a brownie.
The next day, we rode two buses to the Xi’an North Train Station. We started very near our home, but had to follow the GPS to see where we should get off and change buses. This went fairly smoothly on the way out. The second bus was old, and the driver seemed upset. He jerked the bus around and honked the horn for no reason. He let us off at the Train Station which was the end of the bus line. We followed the crowd up to the huge station, and then tried to figure out how to collect the train tickets we purchased online. Even though we did not have directions for how to do this, we managed to retrieve our tickets without waiting too long or having to change lines.
A few days later, we thought we might try to find a mountain park we had read about. We waited for about twenty minutes, and the bus never came, so we decided to get coffee and salamander food instead. Later that afternoon, we tried again. I found Daming Palace National Heritage Park on the GPS map, and we agreed to catch the bus to see what it was like. It turned out that it was a huge park with a pond, three museums, and an IMAX. It also had REAL running trails. We look forward to cleaner air and a bit warmer weather, so we can go there and try running for an hour or two. We wonder why it took us so long in our time here to find such a great park.
Our latest bus adventure was simply supposed to show us where the number 43 bus went. We already knew that it went inside the City Wall and past the Bell Tower. So we stayed on for a while to see where else it went. The GPS said we passed a zoo, but we were not ready to commit to that level of tourism yet. Instead we got off the bus at a place labeled Jinkang Tea Culture Street. Wow. It was beautiful and full of tea stalls. We bought some fruit tea and some buckwheat tea. Many of the stalls were already closed because of the Spring Festival Holiday, so we plan to visit again when more of them will be open.
That adventure ended with a short trip to the nearest McDonalds for coffee and French fries. We also ended our day today with a McFlurry and coffee from McDonalds. We have been here long enough, and we have had enough adventures that we don’t feel like we are cheating to find a little comfort food at the end of a day of random bus rides.