Day 22: The Muslim Quarter (Saturday 19 November)

I have been a bit down today because two of my best friends are getting married in Melbourne and I can’t be there to share the day with them. I have been in touch with them by phone and text throughout the day but of course it isn’t the same. This wedding has been nearly ten years in the making so it was one that I really did not intend to miss. I sent my “telegram” to be read out which was faithfully delivered, following an extremely witty speech by Ben. The happy couple demonstrated excellent taste and bought Louis Roederer champagne for the occasion. I just hope they saved a bottle so that we can celebrate together when I am back in Australia! Rachel and her groom (who issued an edict that he not be mentioned in this blog) have been great friends of mine for many years. They are always there for the highs and for the lows that life has to offer. Together we’ve found that there is little that a Chelsea pizza can’t fix. I hope there will be many more good times to come for us all. Happy wedding to Rachy and her red-headed mystery man.

Mozzies

In the middle of summer in Perth, by the water, I expect to be eaten alive by mozzies. It’s normal; par for the course during summer. What I don’t expect is to be eaten alive by mozzies in a hotel room in the middle of winter in China!!! I woke up in the early hours of this morning to find myself scratching my hands and arms because I had been attacked by a mosquito. Unbelievable. We’re not exactly sure how they got in but it was probably when Brad had the windows open trying to get some fresh air into the room. Just another trial, but at least it was a minor one on the scale of things.

Am I an alien?

When I woke up this morning I was wet through again from the nightly fevers. I touched my skin to see just how much sweat I had excreted and instead felt something very strange. I don’t mean to sound like too much of a freak but what I felt wasn’t sweat. It was more like slime.  Actually it had a similar consistency to ultrasound gel. Gross. I don’t know what’s going on here but that’s not normal. My body has reacted to many medical treatments over many years in many different ways and excreting slime is definitely a turn up for the books. The gel was only around my sternum, not under my arms or anywhere else where sweat normally gets produced. Guess I am going to have to see what the doctors have to say about that one tomorrow! (PS – they assured me it was just sweat).

Free day

We mooched around the hotel room for a lot of the day and finally got organised to go on an outing after 2pm. I felt OK today and didn’t have any more fevers and had a reasonable amount of energy. We decided to head into the town centre and check out the Muslim quarter. We weren’t sure how successful we’d be at getting the taxi driver to drop us where we wanted to go but the sun was shining upon us today and we got it right first time.

We spent a couple of hours slowly wandering around the streets in the Muslim quarter and investigated the different types of food for sale that we hadn’t seen before. It seemed like every second shop was selling walnuts and Chinese dates. Brad read today that the pomegranate is the official flower of Xian so it was fitting that we both had a pomegranate juice while we were out. We stopped for a late lunch at a little place that served us a mutton broth with glass noodles, little bits of something green and tiny squares of something that was a cross between pasta and gnocchi. On the side we got whole cloves of pickled garlic and chili paste. It was a very tasty soup but neither of us could finish a whole bowl. I watched in awe as other patrons sucked down the garlic cloves whole and spat out the skins. I really wouldn’t want them breathing on me.

After lunch my energy waned quickly so we went back to the main road and got a cab back to the hotel. We thought we were really splurging today by getting a taxi instead of the MRT, but the cab fare was only about $3 each way so we’re obviously a lot closer to the town centre than we realised.

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