I returned the train tickets to Xian today. Two girls in my room said they thought it had been a disappointment, and still having TD I didn't really feel like being on a train for 2 nights anyway.
I've heard that they had to teach the Chinese people the concept of waiting in line in preparation for the Olympics last year, and I think they've already forgotten. You have to keep a constant vigilance on your place, lest people just step in front of you. I also saw a guy that tried to go right up to the window and bypass the 15 or so people in line. Then they opened a new window and people literally ran to get into that line. The guy that had been trying to cut the line tried to step in front of me so I elbowed him good in the side and said 'you were behind me'! Not that he understood me, I'm sure but he definitely got the message!
So, I'm embarrassed to admit that I broke down and ate McDonalds today. I just needed something my stomach could handle. But perhaps it's good that I did because it was gross and bland, and now I really don't feel like I'm missing anything. One funny thing was that Maria Carey's song 'Always Be My Baby' was on single repeat. I think it's their way of getting people not to linger because I could only take about 6 cycles before I had to get out of there.
Then I went in search of the long distance bus station to get info getting to the less touristed part of the Wall. I had also gotten a refund for this tour from the hostel because I hate being on tours and someone else's time schedule. I found the station but there was no info desk. I was tired so I gave up and took a taxi back to the hostel. After a 2 hour nap I felt a whole lot better!
The Swedish couple and another guy from Switzerland and I all went out to dinner. We accidentally ordered SO much food! I think it was mostly because we wanted to try everything. Since I don't think I'm going to get a chance to have a roasted duck, I at least ordered some duck breast. There was also donkey on the menu so you know we had to try that! Everything was very good - except the donkey, which was dark and strange tasting and my stomach just wasn't ready for too much wild food. This is the first truly Chinese meal I have been able to eat, and it was nice. When the check came, it was only $11 per person!
On the walk back to the hostel I stopped at another hostel that is in the same alley (called huatong) and inquired about hiring a car and driver to wall. They said it would be 800 yuan round trip and with 4 of us that's he same as the tour price. I liked this hostel a lot better and it's cheaper, so I think I will move tomorrow.