We had lunch near the train station. The other day we ordered two meat dishes. (Well, mine was shrimp.) This time we ordered a chicken dish and a vegetable dish to share. The chicken is in a sweet sauce with shallots and peanuts. The vegetable is green beans that may have been cooked quickly on a hot griddle (?) with peppercorns and other spices. Or maybe it was different kinds of peppercorns. It was delicious.
We paid a little extra to be first class (that’s one of the middle levels, not the top) so we were disgusted to find our seats faced backward with leg space shared with the people in the next row—not enough to stretch out at all. The Australian ladies across the aisle were in the same position. They made a stink, and we were delighted to find that the seats could be easily reversed. That did mean finding other places for all the luggage people had stored behind the rear-facing seats. They rose up from their seats, wanting to know what we were doing with their luggage, but once they knew where it was going, everyone was satisfied.
The land was amazingly flat and uninteresting for most of the trip. We only stopped in one city, which had an incredible number of abandoned buildings near the tracks as if a section of the city had been declared uninhabitable. Smoke poured from distant factories, so China hasn’t solved their pollution problems altogether.
Now we are safely ensconced in Hotel Sofitel in Xi’an, too tired to find dinner. We’ll have to make do with granola bars, nuts, and a shared apple. This room has a tea kettle as well. Hurray for a tea culture!