Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hello from Xi'an

Have you ever seen the movie, "If this is Tuesday, it must be Belgium"? That's how I am feeling and this is only our second stop.

Yesterday, Wednesday, we saw the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. Feng shui was very important in the planning and structure of buildings in the early days in China, which explains the duplication and balance of structures in the pursuit of harmony. This is great until you try to see the entire layout in a very short amount of time and after passing through the 3rd of so gate, you are pretty sure you will never get to the other side. I had to continually remind myself of the age of the structure, 500+ years and the ability of it to withstand time, war, and many other disasters.

After seeing the Temple of Heaven we enjoyed another fantastic Chinese meal before racing to the train station.

The train station was a whole new experience and the best way to describe it was, that everyone trying to catch a train has a type A personality and they were all fearful they might not succeed, so they pushed and ran and squeezed into the tiniest of places to get through faster than we could.

The bullet train was also very interesting but to be able to cover close to 700 miles in under 4 hours was great.

Our guide met us and managed to get us out of the train station unscathed and whisked away to our hotel, where we were fortunate to receive an upgrade. It is very strange to see such an American name as Sheraton in the heart of a Chinese city.

After getting our bearings, we made it down to a market, which was actually a 3 story grocery store, but more like a Wal-Mart. We were on a quest for snacks, bottled water, and me some nail clippers. As usual we stopped traffic but this time I think more people were surprised when Annabel would open her mouth and English, with a definite East Texas accent came out!

We finally found someone to help us find nail clippers after Annabel translated, "where is" then turned to me to pantomime nail clippers. It worked, but was pretty hysterical in the punchy, exhausted state we were in.

This morning's breakfast was the largest buffet I think I have ever seen and you can even have ice cream at the end. There was a station to boil noodles with your selected ingredients, 4 types of congee, a whole section for Korean food, and another for Japanese, then a huge area for breads.

Our guide took us to the city wall and we rented bikes to ride around the top. We enjoyed breezing along and stopping to see the sights along the way, until we realized that we either had to turn around or keep going and both ways seemed like a lot of the 8.4 miles distance was still left. We persevered and made it the entire way around the wall.

From there we visited the Muslim market, which from outward appearances seemed like all other Chinese markets. Then onto lunch at a famous dumpling restaurant where we had dumplings with every ingredient known to man, along with wheat tea.

After lunch, we visited a local elementary school. It was amazing. We sat in on a class learning English of 12 year olds. The lesson today was on giraffes. I wished I had a picture of the giraffe in front of the Dallas Zoo to show. After we participated, then we got to ask them questions.

I asked if any planned to come to the United States, the answer was a resounding no, which surprised me. The teacher asked me what other foreign countries I had visited and she was amazed and my list is relatively short.

Then it was time for recess and both girls got in some ping pong, as well as badminton and basketball.

Tonight is the Tong Dynasty Show but in the meantime, naptime seems more appropriate. Tomorrow is the Terra Cotta Warriors.


 

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