Today we flew from DunHuang to the province of Shaanxi and the modern metropolis of Xi'an (say "she on"), the starting point of the old Silk Road. The landscape was incredible as I looked out the airplane across vast desert, then craggy mountain ranges, up to glacier-capped peaks. It was wonderful to see so far because once we got 45 minutes from Xi'an, the pollution obliterated any chance of seeing the ground.
We arrived in The Most Happiness City Of China? Who knew?
We went to our hotel downtown and looked with eager anticipation at the real-live-cushiony-soft-American-style mattress!! We almost went to sleep right then! We tried to catch a cab to visit the Muslim Market we had heard about, but it was a rush hour time when the cabbies were changing drivers, and we stood with our guide for half an hour on the street and could never get one. So we decided to go back to our room. Kirk watched the Beijing Open Tennis Tournament on TV while I went to the spa for a "Chinese Herbal Foot Massage" which advertised "improve circulation and prevent beri beri". (Good thing--I had been worried about getting that!) For 120 RMB (twice the price of my hair cut!), I was subjected to an interesting hour of pain and discomfort. The pain came from her pressing her knuckles with superhuman strength into the soft arch of my foot. The discomfort came from not being able to tell her anything that she understood in English! We just said, "Hello--Ni Hao" back and forth. She would ask me a question in Chinese, and I would just smile and say, "I'm sorry I don't understand." I would have thought in an American-friendly international hotel, the spa personnel might know a few words in English. Even Kirk learned to communicate with his Spanish patients in their own tongue. Three or four sentences, maybe, like "Are you having enough pain or should I press harder?" She also had a cold and had to cough up a lougee (how DO you spell that word?) which she spit in the toilet nearby. (It is not uncommon to expectorate anywhere and any time in China. I even had a student spit during class on the floor beneath his desk!) Anyway, Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, it wasn't.
That night was the much anticipated dumpling banquet. We were served 18 different kinds of famous Chinese dumplings, many of them shaped to represent what kind of filling was inside. Fun!!
|The dumplings are steamed in these bamboo basket steamers.|
|Chickens and pigs (pork).|
|The green is celery.|
|The brown are walnut paste--sweet! They were my favorite.|
We were entertained as we ate. The woman played traditional Tang Dynasty music, along with "Red River Valley" and "My Heart Will Go On" for all the tourists! Pretty funny!
|Much of Chinese theater is military in theme.|
|The 1000 hands Buddha dance.|
The costumes were shabby and well-worn in this show, but the performers had great enthusiasm and seemed to really be enjoying themselves. I could see because I was in the front! The dances were beautiful and told Tang Dynasty stories and traditions. There was even some acrobatics and a "kazoo"-type horn player at the end who could also make his voice sound like a kazoo, and he held his final note for about 5 minutes as he discretely drew in air at the sides of his mouth while blowing out through the horn. It was fun.
We saw the Eiffel Tower from our room window at night--I wonder how many "copies" of the Eiffel Tower there are around the world?
Our soft, real mattress bed was a delightful vacation in itself! Sweet dreams!