We landed in Xian after dark only to find out that the airport was another hour & 1/2’s drive in from the boonies. Next thing you know, we were herded onto a military style transport bus crammed full of shady, disheveled characters in ill-fitting cotton padded overcoats. I was a bit disoriented to say the least…thinking I’ve just been abducted on mountain patrol somewhere up in Kekexili. I strained my sleep-deprived red eyes over the sea of bad haircuts & spotted little William dwarf in between two dirty and weather-beaten scar faces at the front end of the bus & was just as relieved with the absence of Tibetan antelopes or any other critters on board.
As the suspension less bus grind its way along the dilapidated roads, I nodded off intermittently but would awaken abruptly thinking I’ve been robbed blind & left by the road side stark naked only to catch glimpses of surreal frontier storefronts like those from old Kurosawa films passing through the fogged up windowpane. In relief, I settle back in for the long uncomfortable ride ahead while clutching on to my money belt & passport.