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西安
Xi'an

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After an early dinner, we went to the airport for the flight to Xi’an. The flight was late, and we didn’t get to the hotel until after ten. The clover leafs on the superhighway into the city were lighted with colored lights. It looked sort of like Christmas. But, as in the other big northern cities, there are coal-burning power plants, so the beauty is marred by the smog and constant smell of coal smoke. The pollution is an unfortunate consequence of rapid economic development. Xi’an is a city of six million, which was the capital of China for 1,000 years, and the starting point of the Silk Road. It has a wealth of historical and archeological treasures, and is also an educational center. The University we visited the next morning has 30,000 students. One school there is devoted to tourism, and two of the students supplemented our Xi’an guide, who is a faculty member at the Xi’an Foreign Languages University. We heard an excellent lecture on Chinese cultural history and society. Here, as everywhere we went, we heard about the massive emphasis on education. In the past 10 years, there has been a fivefold increase in the number of undergraduates and people with doctoral degrees. In engineering alone, China has over 400,000 new undergraduates a year, and 48,000 with master’s degrees—far more than the U. S. After lunch at the university, we went to the outstanding new Museum of History, where there are art objects from a span of 6,000 years. On the way back, our local guide said that there is a school for Chinese massage near the hotel, and the bus dropped about a dozen of us there for a Chinese foot massage, which lasted 80 minutes and cost $12 apiece. They actually started at the head while your feet were soaking in aromatic waters, and went down to the toes. Then, they gave you new socks for your clean, refreshed feet. We were ready for the dumpling banquet, which had about 20 different kinds of delicious dumplings. - George Ruff

Early Ming Bell Tower     
photo © Lance Nevard

Curio Bazaar near the Drum Tower of Xian     
photo © L Nevard

Annette Rubin sitting in the Garden of the Great Mosque      
photo © L Nevard

Gates and Roofs of the 1260 year old Great Mosque     
photo © L Nevard

Construction worker by the Xian Drum Tower     
photo © L Nevard

Wrestlers in the People`s Square     
photo © L Nevard & Barbara Holt

Tang Dynasty music and dance     
photo © Charles Nygard

More Tang Dynasty music and dance     
photo © L Nevard The next day was one of the many high points. We drove to the Bampo Neolithic excavation site and the Qin emperor’s terra-cotta warriors tomb. The emperor had wanted to have his army buried with him, to protect him in the afterlife. His advisors explained that this would leave no one to defend his empire, and suggested that they make life-sized statues of each member of the army, to defend his tomb. Over 6,000 have been excavated since 1974 when the tomb was discovered. They are displayed as they were found, in sort of a giant field house, in the ranks they would have occupied in a battle, infantry, archers, and cavalry. We bought two (little) ones, which are now on a shelf in the living room. In the evening, we attended a concert of Tang dynasty music, which was sort of a ballet with extravagantly colored costumes. The following morning, we visited the Hui (Moslem) area, passing a McDonalds as we entered the old area, with narrow streets, lined by colorful shops. There is an impressive mosque, surrounded by beautiful gardens. - George Ruff

Yang Hong-Ying, our local guide in Xian     
photo © L Nevard

Freeman, Yang Hong-Ying`s graduate student     
photo © L Nevard

Some of the Terracotta Soldiers Buried near Xian     
photo © L Nevard

The Famous Qin War Chariot - 206 BC     
photo © L Nevard

The courtyard of an Eastern Yao cave dwelling     
photo © L Nevard