Sunday, April 19, 2009

What $23 a night buys in Xian

There's nothing wrong with checking into a chain hotel hotel now and then, especially if it's Ibis, the European chain of budget hotels with several nice hotels n China, including the $23-a-night Ibis inside the old city walls of Xian.

Here's what we're getting: Big, modern double room; TV; clean, modular bathroom with high-pressure shower; free Internet; fake wooden floors; big Chiinese bed; early check-in (9:30 a.m. this morning); and for an extra $2, an all-you-can eat Chinese and American breakfast buffet.

The furniture looks like it came from Ikea. All the staff speaks a little English. Couldn't really ask for more, except for maybe a little more help from the front desk with train information, but we solved that problem the way we usually do - by walking into a four-star hotel, in the case the Hyatt, and asking the consierge. He didn't even ask if we were hotel guests. He asked a bellhop to walk with us to the train ticket office above the bank across the street where he helped us buy the tickets to our next destination - Pingyao- in a few days. This kind of help is so typical in China. He didn't even expect a tip, but of course, we gave him one.

Dinner our first night was at a place next door to the hotel called "How Sunny Life.'' It was packed with families an everything was in Chinese, but lucky for us, they were doing Dim Sum. The carts were filled with little dishes like we see back home. Lots of green veggies, dumplings, and chicken, shrimp and beef stews. We put together a tasty meal of six or seven different dishes plus beer for $6.40 for the two of us.

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