Saturday & Sunday September 11 & 12, 2010

Thought for the day: Whatever you do have fun otherwise it’s not worth doing

Saturday. Team 187’s weekend started with a trip to the Hua Qing hot springs and the Qin Shihuang Terra-Cotta Warriors’ Museum. Our private “WHITE” van was from Raphael’s travel service. We were picked up at the hotel right after breakfast around 8:10. All the seat covers in the van were with a “Pooh” bear design. I thought it was quite cute so I made the comment there was a “pooh” on the cover. My comment gave Claudia quite a shock for she thought it was something other than the cute Pooh bear from Winnie the Pooh. Afterwards all went smoothly during the ride.

The famous Hua Qing Hot Springs were built in the Tang Dynasty. Supposedly one of the most beautiful concubines from the Tang dynasty took her bath here. And this was also where took place one of the most famous incidents in Chinese history during the early years before the Communist Party came into power. Chiang Kai Shek the “generalissimo” of the Nationalist Party was captured by rebel leaders when he stayed here.

The highlights of this place for me are the rooms where Chiang Kai Shek and his entourage stayed. Also, the grafted persimmon trees on top of local Xian fig trees. According to the locals this gives Xian persimmons a unique flavor. All this I overheard from local tour guides explaining it to their tour groups.

There were hundreds of local tourists but only 5 non locals and 4 non Chinese at this place. I don’t think I need to visit this tour site ever again.

From the hot springs we went to the Terra-Cotta Warriors Museums. Thanks to Claudia, we had our own private tour guide. The place was huge! Claudia showed us where we should start our tour — the panorama theater. The show gave us a general history of Qin Shihuang, the process of how these extraordinary figures were made and a simulated re-enactment of life during ancient times. The movie was well scripted and the cinematography was well executed.

Next we went to the second museum building. There in an enormous domed structure were hundreds of the Terra-Cotta Warriors. It was breathtaking. I feel I could spend days in this part of the museum and never get tired of looking at these remarkable figures. It’s the thought of how skillful these craftsmen were. The artistry, the craftsmanship, the creativity and most of all the amount of labor that went into the creation of this masterpiece. Later I learned in another museum building that many workers were criminals, forced laborers who created this enormous and one of a kind work of world-class art.

We were in the museum for so long that the wonderful driver provided by Raphael Travel called twice to make sure we hadn’t left the museum without him. We got back to the hotel around 5:30. 6:30 we met at the dinning room for dinner. We each ordered a dish and shared in the Chinese style. Wally ordered two crispy pigeons since one pigeon were a bit small for 5 hungry people, Tony ordered a whole steamed flounder, Maggie ordered two plates of steamed dumplings because again 12 little dumplings per order are not enough for 5 people. Claudia ordered the healthy vegetable of stir fried asparagus and I ordered a great bowl of spicy noodles. Of course we all had beer to help us top off a wonderful outing.

Sunday, was a free day for all. Tony and I went to walk on the old city wall. It took us 4 hours to walk the complete wall because I was stopping every few minutes to take pictures. To see Xian in the morning when the city is starting its day is fascinating. The market was bustling, shoppers bargaining at the fruit stand, men doing laundry on roof tops, a woman washing vegetables on the street, a barber cutting hair on the sidewalk, a man sleeping on the couch in the open on the side walk, men and women exercising in the park, a man standing on his head in the park, rows and rows of ping pong players in the park, workmen on roofs laying roof tiles, window washers hanging from roofs without safety lines, brick layers laying bricks at the edge of a building on the third floor without guard rails, workmen squatting in a courtyard eating. Amazing sights.

After getting off the wall we went to a gigantic department store near the Bell Tower. The store has 7 floors and was packed. The busiest floor was the women’s shoes department. I believe this might be true world wide. There were so many people inside the stores and on the street it was overwhelming. There were people eating everywhere, people selling things every few feet, people squatting and sitting on the steps in front of the gigantic department, people in front of stores shouting into bull horns, people sitting under trees. It was hard for me to think what it would be like if there were no one child policy in China.

We picked up a birthday cake for Wally because it was his Birthday. Team 187 celebrated his birthday at dinner with a pink lotus flower candle brought by Baoli which opened up with flames on all petals and in the center. It played the happy birthday song at the same time. We were lucky that we did not set the place on fire.

The cake looked so over the top. I cannot describe it to do it justice. All I can say is the cake had tomatoes, parsley, dragon fruit and other fruits on top. Only a photo can capture it.

It’s getting late and I need to end this report. But I can not end this report without reporting that at dinner that Tony jokingly suggested that I should write this report as a dialogue. Such as what we do in teaching our English classes. Claudia humorously delivered a mock dialogue. We laughed so hard at the suggestion that I actually hurt myself.

– Marcella

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