From the Arch to the Great Wall

13. Yellow River

Yellow River

This morning, one of the breakfast attendants asked me for my room number before letting me into the eating area. Instead of saying the usual "ee" for "one", I said "yao", which is also one but in a different dialect. I had heard it before in the States and now I was unconsciously using it in China. The people here understand "ee" if I were to say it but it just makes more sense to say "yao".

The first stop of the morning was the hovercraft tour of the Yellow River (Huanghe) - the second longest river in China.. This was my first time seeing a hovercraft and I must say it was pretty cool looking. After the bottom tube was inflated it went over almost everything with ease. The Yellow River stays true to its nameit is incredibly dirty and more of a brown than yellow. The hovercraft dropped us off on a small island in the middle of the river. We saw farmers with horses and some students paid a small fee to ride a horse on an island in the middle of the Yellow River. Before it was time to leave, everyone crowded around a small patch of land that looked firm but had a trampoline-like effect to it. We found out it could be expanded and soon everybody was jumping on it. Surprisingly, the ground did not cave in but rather pushed back. I guess it could be compared to a giant waterbed; the ground held up 24 students while maintaining a springy texture.

After the hovercraft landed back at the base station a lady came out to hand us wet towels so we could wipe our hands. I thought it was really nice to have such great unexpected service. Then we walked to a dam right above the Yellow River. I got to walk around, take a picture of a statue at the top, and sit on a hammock made of wood. Here was where I decided to stop having soda at each meal because I felt dehydrated and somewhat sluggish.

The next stop after lunch was the Henan Province museum. It was built by I.M. Pei and contained the history of the Henan Province along with artifacts and special exhibitions. I didn't know if we were going to Yue Fei's temple so I took a picture of a picture of his temple. Many of the students were getting restless so we did not spend much time at the museum.

Since everybody was restless, we all got a 2 hour break after the museum. I spent a good hour at the internet bar from last night typing out emails. Then the internet went down throughout the city so I left with Joe, Darryle, and Pete to go wait for the bus to pick us up. Haibo took our group to a location that was not on the itinerarya date shop. It was a shop full of goods made from dates such as medicines and snacks. I looked around for a bit and then went to play cards with Michael, Matt, Ryan, Jason, and Darryl.

Dinner tonight was a little more special than other dinners, if only by personal opinion. I ate many of the things I would normally pass up like cucumber, doh chih (bean sprouts), noodle soup, and beef with dong gwa (a type of melon) just as small attempt to get my daily servings of vegetables. I also did not drink any soda in order to not be so sluggish. All in all, it was one of those dinners where you feel full but did not eat too much.

After dinner Haibo surprised us all by taking us to get massages. Tonight we were scheduled to ride the night train and since we had an hour or so to kill, everybody except two students opted for the massages. It cost 120 yuan and was worth that price. There was another option of getting a body massage but I felt that I put more strain on my feet than my body so I got the foot massage. The lady I had was a bit rough but I still enjoyed my first foot massage ever. She basically beat my left leg and foot until it was numb and then did the same to my right leg and foot. At the end I even got a new pair of socks to wear, though I chose to wear my original ones on the train.

The night train turned out to be an awesome experience. Each compartment was about the size of a bathroom but held four bunks, a small table, and more room than expected. Jason and I got top bunks while Henry and Dustin got bottom bunks. Each bunk had a soft mattress, two blankets, and one pillow, plus extra pillows in the storage bin in case you wanted more. I took out the pillows and threw my luggage in the storage bin, wrote a little in my journal, and fell asleep almost immediately after putting my journal away.

Inside the night train compartment



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