Monday, January 24, 2011


Tuesday, March 21, 2007 XIAN

The train arrived in Xian about 8 am. Everyone was a bit tired from the sleepless night but in good spirits. We hiked out of the train station to the bus and got our first glimpse of Jo’s home city. We're further south and the weather is much warmer than it was in Beijing. She will be our local guide in this city as well as our tour leader. She kept telling us not to expect this hotel to be as grand as our Beijing Hotel but we've found it to be a lovely older hotel built around a garden complete with ponds and two beautiful peacocks that strut around the patio keeping us all entertained. It was appropriately name the Xian Garden Hotel.

Our rooms were ready early and the luggage arrived while we were at breakfast. My lock was missing off of my suitcase but nothing had been taken from inside. The luggage strap that I’d also secured with plastic ties must have discouraged them. But, we’d removed nearly everything except clothes so there really wasn't much for them to take of value. Everyone felt better after a shower and change of clothes.

We all met on the patio for a Tai Chi demonstration and then we practiced some moves ourselves. Not as easy as it looked we soon discovered. We then walked from the hotel to the park where the dancing water display will be held each evening. Discovered lots of toddlers and suddenly realized that their little buns were hanging out the bottom of their clothes. Instead of diapers they leave the bottom open. Looked cold but nearly all of them were dressed in this manner. Their clothes were very warm looking otherwise.

The cameras were very busy trying to capture their faces and backsides!

Also got a view of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda that leans to one side because like Pisa in Italy; they've been using too much of the stored water. Now the policy has changed to protect the ground water and hopefully the damage has been stopped. We’ll have an opportunity on Friday to see more of this Pagoda.

Met the bus and continued over to the Shaanxi History Museum (Shaanxi is the name of the province that Xian is located in) for a guided tour on the history of China. Xian was the capital of China for many years and it has an extensive history that goes back to prehistoric times.

We then drove to a Muslim Shopping Alley located within the old city walls and walked through enjoying the sights and smells (except for one spot where they were emptying “honey pots” into a large tanker truck) and some even ventured to taste the shishkobs that were being cooked on the street. The variety of food was very different; some we could distinguish but others remained a mystery. We walked into a Chinese Pharmacy and had a brief discovery on how they fill a prescription with Chinese herbs. Many different herbs are weighed and put on a large sheet of paper. Those are taken home and boiled for several hours into a broth, then strained before you drink the broth. Each prescription is for three to seven packets and you drink one per day. Some of the ingredients are really wild; for example dried: birth placenta, dog or horse sexual organs, turtles, lizards, as well as every imaginable root, herb and spice. We all decided to stick to western medicine.

We saw the Bell Tower that rang each morning to tell the people that the gates were open and then the Drum Tower that beat to show that the gates were closed in the evening. The government requirement is that no buildings within the old city be taller than the bell towers; exceptions are made if the builder is willing to pay a fine for taller buildings.

Our dinner this evening was very different. We had Mongolian Hot Pot dinner at the City Hotel restaurant. Each of us had a small pot in front of us and we dipped our food into the pot and let is cook before we ate it. A challenge to discover what took longer to cook. Then we mixed our own sauce from a master table for dipping the pieces into before eating them. Lots of fun and no one burned themselves on the hot pots.

Back at the hotel we enjoyed using the internet from our room and Chris came down to read her emails also. Some walked over to see the Dancing Water Fountain at 8:30 and about 8 pm there was a very loud display of fire crackers; a nightly thing we learned. The internet was broadband and not free but only about 30 Yang a day. Much less than using the hotel business office computers that charge by the hour.

1 comment:

Magdalena said...

LOVE the photos! Was is Tai Chi you were doing? You look like an expert! I enjoyed reading your description of the trip as well.