Monday-Wednesday, April 14-16

Monday, April 14, 2008
By Dave Hale

Thought for the Day: “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding” (Prov. 4:7).

Photograph for the Day: Tang Dynasty is the most prosperous period in Chinese history. This show brings us back to 1400 years ago.

Back to school. Last night Hu Di complimented us on staying safe and healthy. This morning Gael felt under the weather enough to miss class. The three of us soldiered on. This was my first experience with primary students, grades 2 and 4. Having a regular teacher in the classroom for translation and occasional calls to the order was a great help. Peggy’s school gave her a Chinese name, Ke Jing, “lovely respected.” For lunch we returned to the Millennium Chang-An Restaurant.
After an afternoon of varied individual activities, we gathered for a big night out. Hui Di led us to the Shaanxi Grand Opera House for dumplings and a show. We gorged on about twenty kinds of fillings—duck, mushroom, abalone, shrimp, walnut (sweet), and so on. Dinner music was provided by an elaborately costumed woman playing a nine-string lute. The show was a Tang Dynasty spectacle, ten numbers by beautifully dressed dancers and musicians. Frommer characterizes this company as having a relatively “authentic” feel.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

By Gael Entrikin

Thought for the Day: “There are enough resources on earth to meet man’s needs, but not his greed” (Gandhi).

Photograph for the Day: Gael enjoyed the chasing game with the children at Gao Xin No2 School. She did both the hen and the fox in the game.

What a day, you certainly can’t step in the same river twice! Dave read yesterday’s journal. Some small adjustments were made to our schedule and by 8:00 a.m. we were off to Shaanxi Provincial History Museum. The Tang-style museum claims the reputation of being a “shining pearl of the ancient capital and a treasure trove in China.” There could not be a better description. There was mention of Lantion man, a smattering of Banpo-era culture (yes, Banpo Site Museum’s collection spoiled one of us). When one comes to the Qin, the collection expands into a glory of sophisticated art/craft: pottery, gold, jade, and bronze. The very decorative Tang follows. Personally, I prefer early periods, convincing me I would prefer knowing earlier cultures as a general rule. Not that 600 A.D. isn’t early, just not early enough. If all of this is in one capital of one province, what must China hold?

Peggy, who was still making models, joined us for lunch. Today Hu Di introduced us to Mongolian Hot Pot. Our lunch at the Little Sheep was cooked at the table in a divided kettle with spicy and mild broths. Every time the waiters came in we had something new to put in the broth: thinly sliced meats, potatoes (sweet and plain), tofu (plain, frozen, and the “skin”), mushrooms, potato noodles, and . . . lettuce. If you have a granite table with a hole in it, you could try this at home. But you miss the birthday peony unfolding before your eyes.

So finally . . . in the afternoon we went to school. We all had primary today, two classes then outdoor games. David and Hugh played ping pong while Mary and I participated in various “chase” games.

Mary produced divine chocolate cupcakes at dinner; Hugh consistently serves as a fountain of facts—dates, conquests, and expansions for every era. David continues to plan our farewell, and Peggy, he hopes, will soon finish enough models that nothing will have to be repacked.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

By Hugh Ragsdale

Thought for the Day:

Photograph for the Day: Hugh played Ping Pong with his students during their after-class exercise time. The students waited in line to see if they can beat Hugh.

Peculiar incident at breakfast. I left the table to go to the men’s room adjacent to the western dinning room. I found a foreign—not CPR—female there. I told her that she was in the men’s room, and she disputed it. So I invited her to look at the unmistakable image of a male at the entrance. She did, changed her opinion, and was escorted out by Chinese waitresses, who were full of giggles. The nearby Aussies, to whose tour she belonged, loudly denied that she was one of their nationality. In fact, she was Irish.

Morning passed at school conventionally. We had lunch there with the principal and others. Chicken, beef, and pumpkin soup, washed down with Sprite and vinegar, plus beer. Back to the hotel for a free afternoon.

My afternoon rest interrupted by a guy who washed the inside of my windows. The outside continues as before.

[Manager’s supplement. Mary spent the afternoon walking the City Wall, more exercise than she anticipated when she took the wrong direction at the South Gate. Gael went to the La La Shou Center to work with the staff on the pronunciation and phrasing of technical terms. Peggy’s morning at the Center was aided by Peter Chin of Xi’an Peihua University. After lunch, Peter, Peggy, Dave, and Hu Di went east to Gaoqiao village (pop. 4,000). They met with school staff, taught 5th and 6th grade classes, and toured the school. The village is somewhat more affluent that An Shang, but the school was not as modern as Gao Xin School. They briefly toured the Jing Yu Valley and the Red Flag Reservoir.]

Peter also joined the group for dinner at the Laosun Restaurant, a Muslim establishment near our hotel. There are an estimated 100,000 Muslims in Xi’an. Dinner was mutton and bread broth with vegetables and noodles on the side.

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