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June 4th 2010
Published: June 14th 2010
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Friday June 4th

Maggie, Pete and I flew from Shenzhen to Xi’an airport around 4pm and arrived 2.5 hrs later in Xi’an. We had to take the airport shuttle bus into the city center where our hostel was only a 10 minute walk from the bus stop. We found the hostel and loved it as it was recommended by a few CTLC teachers as a great hostel.

We got a 4 bed dorm room and had a roommate that arrived at 11pm. The hostel was noisy the 1st night but we still enjoyed it as there was a bar and restaurant in the hostel along with great Chinese traditional design. Plus we only paid 20 kuai per person a night. Yes we paid 160 kuai=$23.52 for 2 people for 4 nights to stay at Xiangzimen Youth Hostel that is only 1 block from the South Gate to the city wall. We have seen more foreigners since be in Xi’an one day than we do in a couple months in Shenzhen. Xi’an is a major city for people to visit while vacationing in China.

Sunday June 6th Remembering my Grandpa Carroll who passed away 10 years ago today.

We slept in until almost 9am, showered, ate breakfast at the hostel and then decided today was the day to walk to City Wall around Xi’an. Xi’an is one of the ancient capitals of China and has a famous wall around it. It costs 40 kuai to get up on the wall then you could ride an electric golf cart that carried 10 people, rent bikes or walk. We decided since we have 4 days in Xi’an that we would walk to distance around the wall, 13.75km= 8.5 miles. It took us about 4 hours to walk to whole thing as we stopped to take pictures, have a drink and eat ice cream but it lacks food on the wall. We ended up buying a set of terracotta warriors that Xi’an is famous for. The price started at 280 kuai but we walked out paying 150 kuai, Pete LOVES bargaining. Most important thing about China is knowing that the price on souvenirs is never the REAL price, ALWAYS bargain.

Monday June 7th
It was time to see the Terracotta Warriors and we decided to go through the tour at the hostel instead of figuring it out on our own. It only cost 25 kuai more for the tour and a lot less thinking on our end. So we piled in the tour bus and headed to a factory of course. This is pretty standard that you visit at least one place which a local wouldn’t be caught shopping at no matter what the circumstances. Its basically a feeding frenzy and you have no choice but to go in a check out the store/factory or wait it out in the van.

We visited a factory that produced some terracotta warrior statues. We hadn’t spent any time investigating the prices of these prior as our days were pretty packed, but not with shopping. Had we known it would have gone a little different. Our friend, and fellow teacher, got the short end of that stick. She paid 2,000 kuai=$292 for a fairy decent sized statue which also included shipping, which she bargained down from the list price of 4,500 kuai=$658.

Fast forward three hours and I had paid only 200 kuai=$29 for my statue upon leaving the terracotta warrior museum grounds, granted it was a little smaller. If I had waited a mere five more minutes I would purchased the same statue for 30 kuai. Oh well. It seemed our tour guide was making quite a commission off of our lack of understanding for a competitive price. She even told me that 200kuai was a good price. Literally 30 seconds after telling me this she was slipped a 100 kuai bill, and not so discretely I may add, as they were a mere three feet away from me. I really wasn’t that upset as I have known the rules to negotiating with vendors in Asia for quite some time. Its simple, take the price and divide it by four or five.

Pretty much the Terracotta Warriors are at most a three to four hour event. In the 1970’s there was a severe drought in the area and the local government ordered four farmers to go out and dig for wells. After three meters the farmers discovered remnants of the warriors. After 6 meters they unearthed several heads of the terracotta warriors. Being uneducated three of the farmers fled the scene fearing they would be cursed for what they had found. One farmer held true to his mission and completed an excavation of a warrior head. He delivered it to the local Museum and received much praise. He would become a national hero and be recognized by the central government. He was asked for his signature from the Chinese Prime Minister but was unable to read or write, so instead provided his finger print.

He later was taught to read and write and currently sits outside the Terracotta Warrior venue and collects 100 kuai a pop for his signature, extra if you want a photo as well. It was also reported he was given a house and many lavish gifts as part of his reward. Not to bad for a illiterate young farmer from the Chinese Countryside.

Here are two famous sayings that our tour guide told us about. "If you want to know the 200 year history of China go to Shanghai, if you want to know the 1,000 history of China go to Beijing, but if you want to know the 3,000 year history of China come to Xi'an."

If China was a tree Shanghai would be the leaves, Beijing would be the trunk and Xi'an would be the roots.

For dinner, we checked out the famous Muslim Quarter for food and gifts. We also found some amazing peanut roll dessert.

Tuesday June 8th
Our last day in Xi’an we slept in and lounged around until late morning. I thought our flight was at 8:30pm and was surprised when I checked our flight info and the time was 4:25pm. WOW thank goodness that I checked otherwise we would have missed our flight back to Shenzhen.

Pete and I went to the post office to ship our souvenirs back to the US. We have come a long way that we actually did it on our own. Based on prices we shipped them back on a slow boat and will take 2 months, so about our wedding time the boxes will arrive in Portland.

Additional photos below
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14th June 2010

This sounds like a very interesting trip!! Can you believe it has been 10 years already without Grandpa??? Good thing you checked your flight info early enough! Excited to see your pictures....

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