First, if you’re looking for the photos of the trip, check out the I’m with the band – China 2011 menu item. Thx.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 Beijing/Xi’an (B,L,D)
7:50am Arrive Xi’an
Transfer to the hotel
8:30am Check into Grand Noble Hotel, followed by breakfast
10:00am Visit Big Wild Goose Pagoda
11:45am Lunch at local restaurant
1:15pm Rehearsal at the Xi’an Conservatory of Music
3:30pm Visit Ancient City Wall
5:00pm Dinner at the hotel
6:15pm Depart for the Xi’an Conservatory of Music
7:30pm Concert at the Xi’an conservatory of Music as part of the American
Celebration of Music in China
9:30pm Return to hotel
Okay, I still don’t know what B,L,D means. I’ve been back for a couple of weeks and finally have a few minutes to sit down and reflect.
The overnight train to Xi’an was really very interesting. The train itself was clean and comfortable though the common areas were limited to the hallway (tight) and a dining car. That didn’t keep the Chinese in their cabins. On the way to the dining car walking though each car with people seated at the windows and on the bunks. Here’s a look inside the train.
Hallway of the sleeper car
Our cabin on the train
A lot of it was just imagining what all that shadowy landscape was about. That’s the rub about traveling by train at night. You really don’t get to see what the country is all about.
There were a few mysterious stops which woke me up and when I looked out the window without my glasses on the impression I got was pueblos. Not the sort of thing you’d expect in rural China.
From the Bejing to Xi'an train
In the early morning ladies brought coffee to the sleeper car. Sweet no cream. instant.
We arrived at the Xi’an train station at about 7am I’m guessing. After a parade of teenagers and the odd adult (emphasis on the odd and I count myself among them) We loaded onto buses and went straight to the hotel for breakfast, but couldn’t check in until later in the day.
Like many things in China the hotel was a bit of Alice through the looking glass. There were these very impressive chandeliers in the lobby
Lobby chandelier looked like alien spaceship in most of the pictures
and in the restaurant.
The restaurant chandelier was huge
Yet the apartments all around the area had each window and balcony harnessed in a grid of steel. All the people in China seemed to live in cages.
Kids on the street outside a restaurant notice the bars on the apartment behind them.
The breakfast was varied. A combination of eastern and the expected eastern interpretation of a western breakfast. I ate a lot of “French” toast in China. I suspect the wonder bread people have made inroads there. But they had wonderful buns at many of the venues stuffed with a bit of meat and watermelon at every buffet. We ate at a lot of buffets in China. I expect it was expedient given the size of our group. And frankly, what group of teenagers doesn’t descend on a buffet like a plague of locusts?
I arrived late for whatever reason and started out seated by myself by the hostess, but a couple of the other grownups invited me to join and it was a nice meal. Following the food we all lined up again to load on the buses and go to the first tour stop in Xi’an. We passed by the bell tower and the drum tower which were scenic and gave you a sense of what it might have been like back in the day.
one of the towers (bell? drum?) Bell I think.
The first stop was at the big wild goose pagoda (yes, there was a small one), which I managed to screw up and lose all the pictures of. This pissed me off substantially, since it was a pretty awesome place. There was a plaza that we entered after running the usual gauntlet of vendors on the way in. BOO YOW. (don’t want).
A small central tower then a larger pavilion type place that had some very nice drawings. I did get those with the Flip (avoiding flash like a good girl around art works). They should be posted around here in a bit.
Lunch was another buffet which I forget. I suspect it was in one of the many Chinese restaurants in China. Or as they call them there (to paraphrase Mr. Bata) restaurants.
Instead of visiting the City Wall with the group, Chris and I went walkabout and had quite a good time. We headed toward the city wall (having eaten at a restaurant outside the city wall) and it was one of those experiences where you feel fairly safe, but don’t let your guard down. Well at least I didn’t. Sure enough, one of those annoying pick-pockets made an appearance. This was really pretty entertaining. Naturally they targeted me, because I was wearing my coat of many pockets (42 if you’re counting). Yes, a pick-pocket’s dream, but in this case more of a nightmare.
My Scott e-vest tactical jacket has so many pockets that I pretty much can’t ever figure out where I put stuff, so of course The poor little bastard who was assigned to victimize me never had a chance.
First a really annoying adult with a bamboo stick kept circling around me dragging his annoying clicky bamboo stick on the ground. Presumably to point the unfortunate trainee in the right direction.
The poor kid was maybe 12 though he looked more like 8. I felt his hand in my pocket and I turned around and yelled at him…”it’s not going to do you any good, all the good stuff is in the inside.” in retrospect, perhaps not the best response, telling him where my valuables were. But the poor bastard couldn’t get to them anyway. I’m pretty sure he didn’t understand any English anyway.
So, then we got away from that tricky pair and headed into the city wall where we shopped at a tea store that was lovely. in spite of the language barrier Chris and I managed to purchase some really nice Jasmine tea and sampled both black and green teas as well.
Then we moved along and found a street that was populated by mostly calligraphy supply stores. This was fascinating. There were more brushes than you could shake a stick at. We bought a few. Chris tried to play a musical egg, and we watched a woman make baby hair paint brushes. That was fascinating.
We wandered through an art gallery alleyway mall kind of thing and finally ended up in an open marketplace where calligraphists (is that a word?) painted signs and displayed their wares. It was very interesting.
We decided it was time to head back but happened across a shopping mall and of all things Chris was intrigued. It was full of teenagerish clothing, mostly cheap goods, and very crowded and very colorful.
It came out near a Walmart. We thought for a moment we had returned to the mothership. Until we tried to purchase something there and discovered that American credit cards are apparently not accepted in Chinese Walmarts. Very strange.
We managed to find our way back to the hotel without being mugged. ( we employed the walk fast and act like you know where you’re going method.) this was not a sure thing.
Dinner with the Chinese students who would play that night just before our kids did. That was a story in itself. I think I’ll end here and save the rest for another post.