At 9am, we meet Jason and Joe, our guide and driver, as today is the first day of our tour with Bike China, a day set aside for seeing more of Xi’an. We spend about an hour chatting with Jason, who’s 25 years old, and a 1500 meter runner, as well as an aspiring entrepreneur. He went to a sports university in Chengdu, having travelled by train by himself for many hours to get there from his home town, in northeast China. He started working as a touring guide for Peter Cao, the owner of Bike China, in his sophomore year. He’s now graduated, and moved to his girlfriend’s house in Guilin, where they run a business selling souvenirs to tourists. She runs the business while he is away on tours like this one. Joe is an ex-army young man from Chengdu, even younger than Jason, who is using his Jinbei van to escort trips like this one.
Today we visit the Little Goose Pagoda, we cycle around the Xi’an walled old town, which takes about an hour and a half with the old beat up bikes you rent there, and we also visit the art district of XI’an, which has artists, art supplies, and other things to sell. Tali gets a stamp made for her paintings, we stop twice for tea and iced coffee, and we continue chatting with Jason. This part of Xi’an is quiet, with lots of greenery, and feels really calm and peaceful. How different than the CBD, just a few blocks way, yet clogged with endless traffic, smog, and noise!
We ended the day with a 90 minute foot massage, where my whole body, not just my feet, gets pounded, twisted, pushed and pulled – it’s supposed to be restful, but really what I’m mostly thinking is, “When is this torture going to be over?”