Wednesday, June 6, 2007

fourth china post - May 29

So, we are back from Xi'an. It was a really fun trip, and a much different city than Beijing. If I had to compare it to American cities it would be that Beijing is like New York and Xi'an is like Chicago, or maybe even a smaller city than that. Xi'an is the oldest city in China and it was the imperical capital for 1100 years, so it has much more history than beijing. However it is smaller and can be more rural. Our hotel was a REALLY nice hotel, even for US standards, and we were right in the center of town which made the night life rather exciting. (Okay, by night life i mean there was something to do after 7 PM. here, in Beijing, the students either study or go to the internet cafe to play computer games. no joke. so don't picture any kind of sketchy night life or anything like that, considering we are still on the covenant.) now that i have cleared that up for you all...anyway, right next to our hotel was the muslim district, with a market and a few streets with lots of food stalls and restaurants and shops. it was a fascinating area and we walked around there every night, doing some shopping and just wandering around. i finished most of my gift shopping and i am kind of shopped out right now but i am not sure if that will last. we met this painter named David who took us to his upper room and showed us his personal artwork, and it was beautiful. he actually carried a US map in his pocket and i am sure he knows us geography better than I do (not that i am the best example, anyway.) we sat up there for an hour or so chatting with him about economics (of all things, i know) but he was really nice and it was fun to see him a few nights in a row, chatting for a few minutes. we also became quite friendly with one of the stall owners because we bought quite a few things with him and he always said hi to us and also watched out for pickpockets for us, which was so nice of him. he actually was our "friend" unlike the rest of the owners who gave us a good price because they were our "friends."

we saw, of course, the terracotta warriors. it was really spectacular to see them, and to actually be tehre in the "pit", as they call it. they are HUGE and it is overwhelming to see how big the site is and to realize how little they have actually excavated. one of the best things was this theater in the round that told the story of the warriors and the qin dynasty and qin shihuang di (pronounced CHIN), who is the emperor buried in the tomb. we also went to the tang tombs, and the shaanxi history museum, which is one of the most famous museums in china, to look at the most ancient artifacts they have from chinese history. (LOTS of pottery and PLENTY of dings and yus and hes and so on and so forth, sara beth.) my camera batteries died at this moment but FORTUNATELY they sell them in the museum shop for only 1 dollar. that would have been disastrous since i take so many pictures (i have 1700 now i think). we also went to see a tang dynasty show with chinese dancing and instrumentation, which was really fun, followed by a delicious dumpling dinner. the dumplins were in the shape of animals and things. they were really cute, if dumplings can be cute.

on thursday night we went to a meeting with christian young people and it was INCREDIBLE. just incredible...they gave us the warmest welcome, and we sang in english while they sang in chinese and it was an incredible experience and gave me much more of an appreciation for the global church. i'll say more on this later. sunday morning some of them came to our hotel and we met together and that was equally amazing.

last night we crossed this huge roundabout (we almost died...quite seriously. thank goodness for chinese people who cross the street with us and basically are our crossing guards). and saw this huge party at the city gate. seriously, a party. they were playing huge drums and cymbals and about 200 elderly people were dancing this ribbon dance in front of the gate and hundreds of people were watching. this was entirely free, and it happens every night. it's just thrown together. the chinese really know how to party and to have community. i would love to grow old in china, quite frankly.

today we biked the old city wall that surrounds Xi'an. it's 8 miles perimeter and we biked the whole thing. megan and i had the best experience, however, when we used a tandem bike. yes, that is right, it was entitled "cooperate bike." and it was a lot of fun.
we flew back today and now we just have 7 nights and 6 days left. it was a bit like coming home from a long weekend vacation, actually. i can't believe that we come home in a week! i;s altogether shocking to me and i will be glad to be home but i am also still enjoying this time here.

ps. i ate mcdonald's. it was forced upon me i swear, we had little, little time. and it was cheaper and actually better than at home. i just had to confess.

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