To the ancient city of Xi'an

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May 5th 2011
Published: May 8th 2011
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For our May break Helen and I decided to visit Xi'an in Shaanxi province. We left on Saturday night and took a night train into the city. The night trains can be quite comfortable as the gentle rocking of coasting on the tracks can be calming, but upon our return we had a less favorable sleep. We were traveling with Andy and Chang; Andy a fellow teacher at the school and Chang his girlfriend. The owner of the hotel chain we stayed at (called Haunting) is actually a internet millionaire who runs the Chinese airline booking site

On Sunday we started out by traveling around the many markets. In the afternoon we visited the Beilin Museum. There we watched some calligraphy artists and looked at some historical relics dating back to the teachings of Confucius.

Monday was a packed day as we took a tour bus to many destinations. We didn't follow any of the tours though as my comprehension level was minimal. We started out with the Bampo Historical museum. There we looked at Buddhist sculptures and some relics of the oldest structures created by humans. En route to our next destination we stopped by a cute "museum" filled with replicas of famous historical monuments housed inside an Egyptian pyramid mock-up building. Our next destination was the Huaqin Hot Springs. There we toured the premises that was rich with ancient history and important 20th century history including meetings of the Democratic Party of Jiang Kai Shek during the civil war.

Following that was a tour of the Terra Cotta Warriors excavation site. We decided to pay for a tour guide in English this destination as the compound was large and we wanted to see and learn as much as we could. The tour was quite informative as we toured the Qin Dynasty excavations from 4 sites on the compound.

On Tuesday we had a less scheduled day. Our other friends Anne and Matt joined us as we toured the bell tower of the city and toured the oldest standing city walls in the world. We looked at the Goose Pagoda in southern Xi'an in the afternoon. In the evening we had some exotic fish and insect for dinner. Matt and I tried frightened the ladies by trying some cooked cicada and moth worms that we previously scooped live from dishes moments earlier.

Wednesday was our final day. We visited the Shang Xi history museum filled with Terra Cotta sculptures, Buddhist monuments and ancient pottery. That night all three couples, Andy and Chang, Matt and Anne, and Helen and I boarded the night train again. The train ride, as mentioned earlier was a much bumpier ride as we were on the bottom, weirdly enough more expensive bunks we found it a little too bumpy. Along with the previous distraction we had the loudest snoring old man on the bunk directly above us. In the morning on Thursday though we spoke with the old man and some other fellow travelers and had good discussion. The old man, Mr Luo, was a delightful fellow when awake. He is a signer and entertainer for a local steel company in Wuhan.

This trip was a memorable one and as we continue on our adventures they become less complicated and more fun. That being said upon our return we had pressing matters at hand including dealing with Helen's reapplication for a previously denied visa. We have a professional adviser helping us with this reapplication so we should know in about a month if Helen can visit in July.

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