Published: January 2nd 2009December 30th 2008
It’s pronounced “she an” with a lightly pronounced n, but don’t ask me where the accent or tone goes… Day one
is wonderful. With a history that dates back 1000 years B.C., it looks just like what I always imagined China to look like. It is a walled city with pagoda-like roofs on larger buildings and smaller buildings have curved roofs. In Korea, the ornate colorful architecture and traditional style buildings are reserved for temples, palaces, and other special places, but here in Xi’an, this is the look on shopping malls, hotels, and other ordinary buildings. It gives the city a wonderfully splendid, exotic feel. You could take pictures here all day, because at every turn there is something interesting to see. The prosperity that tourism has brought to this town shows in the opulent department stores down the main streets and in the fact that the town is tearing down the old shabby buildings and putting up new buildings in the old traditional style. After the Terracotta Warriors tour, I just wandered around the town for a few hours and enjoyed the sights. Day two
The next day, I walked down to the
city’s South Gate and rented a bike to take and 90-minute ride around the city walls. This has been highlight of my trip so far. The wall is up high so you can get a great view of the city as you go around. Every few feet I wanted to stop and take a picture. The bike ride was especially fun because it was easy, so I could relax and just enjoy the sights.
After the bike ride I decided that I should use my time wisely like a good tourist and see the Big Goose Pagoda. I really wasn’t interested, but I was told it was must-see, so I went. I was walking around and looking at this big pagoda when I felt the weight in my pocket lighten. My camera was gone and no one was around me when I turned around. My day’s pictures of the bike ride and of Xi’an were gone. Aaaaaaaaaa#*!@^&%!!!!! I felt angry, violated, and a little lost. Suddenly, I didn’t know how to go about being a tourist. It felt like China went dark for a while with no way to preserve what I’m seeing, but suddenly my eyes opened and
In the hostel...
the hostel staff were making jokes about my cheap-o film camera and one of the girls snapped a shot of me.
I realized that maybe I should just experience China; not just photograph it to look at later. I sooooooo miss my camera, but now I’m taking it all in a little more and I’m glad I don’t have to worry about it getting stolen anymore. I bought a cheap $14 film camera the next day, which will hold me over until I get back to Korea. Still, I wish my camera thief gets his/her due. I’ve imagined a lot of really awful situations for this person, but in the end, I’ve spent way too much money to get here to let it totally ruin my trip.
…Pictures not bad for a cheap film camera. Day three
On my last day in Xi’an, the hostel staff told me of a department store where I could get my camera. I kept asking (miming) where I could find a camera and the sales people kept pointing me in a different direction or floor. I finally figured out they were just sending me away from their departments because they didn’t know or didn’t know how to tell me where to go. I didn’t find my camera, but I did find Christmas gifts for
my family. It was a real store for Chinese; not a souvenir stand, so the prices were right and the products were what Chinese folks would buy. I LOVED Trustmart!
After throwing all my shopping booty in my room, I went out for a last look at the sights of Xi’an. I found a place to buy my camera and took as many pictures as possible, regretting the lost pictures in my stolen camera. I saw the drum tower and bell towers, which were part of the old city. I wandered through the Muslim quarter, which was interesting. In the center is the largest mosque in China built in 742 AD. I looked for the Mosque but never found it and instead got happily lost in the back alleys and streets of this fascinating area.
While I would have been happy to skip the Big Goose Pagoda and the pickpocket, I loved Xi’an. I wish I had more time there. What a great city.
Now off to Beijing…
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