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Ancient Xingcheng

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I forgot the city bus only ran until 8:30 p.m. when I booked my train ticket to Xingcheng, so I went downtown early, thinking I'd find a restaurant open late nearby. I did not. The directions I had were confusing and it was cold out, so I just bought some apple cider (!!!) at a little shop and went back into the station to wait two hours for my overnight train to Shenyang. When it came I was exhausted from wandering around in the cold, so I fell asleep almost immediately.

I woke up in Shenyang and made it just on time for my next train. It was packed, stuffy and uncomfortable. I had a window seat, so I just dozed in the warm sunlight streaming through the window and listened to countless podcasts until we got to Xingcheng. The scenery was quite boring and not worth mentioning.

I took the bus to my hotel only to find it was closed for the winter. Booking.com found me another place nearby but I still hadn't gotten my refund from last time, so I was a little reluctant to go there. But I had no other options at that moment. The woman who owned it was so excited to see me that she made me dinner for free. The fish was fresh and the salty sauce she poured over it was delicious. It was so great. I found the shower only had cold water, but decided I'd find out more about that the next day. It was already dark at that point, so I went to bed early.

It was 4 a.m. when I woke up, so I had a lot of time to make it to the beach for the sunrise at 6:45 a.m. The pink sky made a nice backdrop for the enormous ocean goddess statue lazing on the beach.
I was already freezing but I decided to go straight back downtown to see the ancient walled city.
It was definitely nothing new. I'd been to Pingyao twice and it was exactly the same, just smaller and emptier. The Lonely Planet said it was less polluted, but that was not true. I walked the perimeter of the walls and then stopped at every sight on my combo ticket.
I found Anonymous!
The drum towerlarge_IMG_0652.JPG
A General's memoriallarge_IMG_0653.JPG
The Confucius Temple, built in 1430, the oldest in the Northeast
Another general's house

That took until lunch time but I wasn't very hungry, so I went on a wild goose chase to find some Sichuan noodles the idiot writer recommended. I walked up and down, back and forth, until tiring myself out and calling this poor noodle woman twice from either side of her little noodle shop. I think I walked by it three times. I realized finally what this guy did. He was staying at the chain hotel "7 Days Inn" and simply turned left. The restaurant had changed owners so the name was different from the book. That's not the writer's problem, but giving directions like "300 m east of 7 Days Inn" instead of "opposite from a dozen flashing KTV signs" would've been helpful. (There are a LOT of KTV signs in China) Also getting the address right would've been great too.

The noodle lady was really excited to see me and used my translation app to tell me the story of how the noodle shop's name changed. The noodles were pretty good, but nothing I would take the time to write about in Lonely Planet. The writer's other recommendation was going to the mall for dinner, but that seemed preposterous.

Throroughly exhausted, I grabbed a couple beers on my way home and went back to the hotel. When I asked about hot water for the shower, they brought me a thermos of hot water to wash my feet with. They said I could go to the bathhouse down the street. Not impressed, I decided to go in the morning after recovering, and also when I would have a better attitude about the whole thing.

Turns out that yes, I did have a better attitude in the morning. I had never been to a Chinese bathhouse before, so it suddenly became an opportunity for cultural education. The hotel owner brought me there in his car and the showers weren't even running yet. The cheery bathhouse manager gave me the key to my little locker and I had a pretty OK shower with an old lady and a 10 year old girl. As people filed into the locker room for their morning shower they stared at the strange naked white woman and all I could hear was them saying "foreigner foreigner" mixed in with other words. I like to believe they were just astounded by my beauty.

The actual bath was way too hot, so I just wrapped my hair up to brave the cold again, packed my stuff up and headed back to the train station. Good ideas come in the shower, so I decided to exchange my ticket home for an earlier one. There was nothing else to accomplish in Xingcheng. The angry ticket lady gave me a bunch of money back because I'd be taking the train with no seat all the way home. Bonus.

Posted by baixing 20:12 Archived in China Tagged liaoning xingcheng

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best travel blog ever!

by steven Torry Rappolee

I think the pictures of the beach area should be blown up and framed for a wall! How gorgeous! Thanks for the laughs, you are a beauty!:)

by Marian Brown

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