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November 11, 2010

Seven six-layer days – Day Four

Back by popular demand and because I can’t stand your whining.

We were awakened very early (at 4:30) since we had to be on the bus at about 5:30 to catch planes to Xi’an and Shanghai. The hotel had prepared lovely box lunches for us. Actually they were in very nice gift bags and were hearty and satisfying. Eleven of us went to Xi’an (pronounced) shee-ahn and six went directly to Shanghai. It was hard to say good-bye to Brian. He has been such a wonderful guide. I think he is a natural teacher. We had reviews of what we had learned the day before, every day. He had a wonderful sense of humor as well. Our flight to Xi’an left Beijing at 7:30.

Our flight was late in arriving but our guide was there to meet us. I think somehow we expected another Brian and we were somewhat surprised to be met by a beautiful young Chinese woman, who told us that her guide name is Mai (or May). She is knowledgeable and efficient and soon herded us all on the bus, counted to make sure we were all there and off we went. We were surprised to find that she has been married 11 years and has nine year old twin girls. She told us several times that she was married to “a lawyer and a liar”. The girls go to a private school so that they learn English. They go all day every day! And, of course they complain. Mai told us that she and her husband just purchased an apartment. In China one buys just the four walls. The new owners have to put in the utilities and the partitions. We discovered that we liked her just as much as we did Brian! She shared a great deal with us. I was saddened when she cheerily announced that she had no faith or religion. Much of what she told us was straight “party line”.

Mai and Jan – China 2010

We toured a Buddhist temple, a lacquer furniture factory and climbed the city walls of Xi’an. It was very interesting to see how much building and repairing of the streets and roads is going on. They certainly need it. There is a lot of smog, as well. We are fortunate that we have controlled our smog to a great degree.

Buddhist Temple – China 2010

Jim and Janis on Old City Wall – China 2010

We ate a couple of times and in the evening, we went to a special performance of Tang Dynasty music and dancing. Mai told us that she used to be one of the main character’s attendants. I am sure that she was good. She is certainly very lovely. The performance was great and the costumes were gorgeous. We were all tired and I had a hard time keeping my eyes open at times – in fact, at times I didn’t!

Tang Dynasty music and dancing – China 2010

We got back to the hotel about 9:30. The traffic here is horrendous and it is best just not to watch. The hotel we are staying at is older than the one in Beijing but it is five star and nice. The staff is very helpful. It was very cold all day and we were warned that it will be even colder tomorrow. I am amused by the rug in the elevator that tells us in English what day it is. An interesting tidbit about China that you may not know is that even though it is such a large country, they have only one time zone.

The group is very compatible and we don’t feel like voting anyone off the island. I am glad that I came but this may be the last strenuous trip that I do. The men are very generous and keep handing me in and out of the bus and watching that I don’t fall down steps etc. There are more steps here than at home and often uneven.

And it was morning and it was evening the fourth day.

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