Xi'an Travel Blog› entry 2 of 12 › view all entries
Well, today we all had orientation in the morning then we hit the town for some sightseeing. I must say to GaoLing that I now understand why you don't like to drive! The traffic here is mad. No one pays attention to the traffic lights or signs, and I can't understand how pedestrians and bicyclists survive on these streets. I've taken two taxi rides so far, and they were both terrifying. In addition to the crazy driving, there is the fact that the seatbelts have all been cut out of the cabs, and metal bars have been installed between the front and back seats. So if you do crash--that is pretty much the end of the story. It is much better to take the bus. It is incredibly crowded, but that means that you cannot see how close you are to death at any given time.
The actual city center is great. It is surrounded by an ancient city wall, and nearly all of the historic sites are within the walls. Our time today was limited, so we hit a market area with a lot of open air stalls. This was mainly tourist stuff--a lot of Buddas and Maos. But behind it was a series of alleyways that were not visited by tourists. Those alleys must be very similar today to what they were like hundreds of years ago. I got quite a few stares as I walked through them. I wanted to take photos to show others, but it seemed really disrespectful, so I did not.
I have gotten lost a few times already, and everyone I have asked for help has been very nice and patient with me. I think it is more difficult here to get oriented to the city because I can't read most of the store signs. I guess that is probably the way I normally try to remember where I am. So I need to work on that and pay more attention.
The other volunteers here are great, and we already have plans to all go visit the panda conservatory next weekend together. I can't wait for that!