In the Spring of 1991, my childhood friend, Cheryl met me in Hong Kong, where she spent the last of my three week business trip with me, and from there, we began our China adventure to the cities of Shanghai, Beijing and the ancient capital, Xian. I kept a very detailed journal from start to finish of my awesome journey, nearly twenty-five years ago, and decided this would make a great travel series for Travelin' Cousins. Over the course of the next several months, I will post chronological segments of my journal on my respective Throwback Thursdays. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed re-living my trip! - Elisa
Today has been a very exciting day so far. We are traveling through the ancient city of Xi'an. This city is the capital of Shaanxi province, located in the northwest of China positioned in th center of dthe Guanzhong Plain.
Just a little history. Xi'an was formerly known as Chang'an before the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) and is one of the oldest cities in China. One of four great ancient capitals of China, Xi'an held this position under a number of important Chinese dynasties including Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui and Tang.
After a mind-blowing visit to the Terra Cotta Soldier Museum which houses the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, we continued on with our day and our Xi'an tour guide, Lee. (Please click on THIS LINK for more information about this amazing museum).
The outside markets in and around Xi'an generally consist of very simply constructed "booths." Most consist of some bamboo sticks with cloth tied over them. The "merchandise" rests on nothing more than a wooden case located on the ground or a blanket. Cheryl and I enjoyed the novelty of walking around these very primitive shopping markets, which felt so quintessential old-world China.
The next stop on our agenda was an Embroidery factory. We first had to stop back at the hotel to pick up the airline tickets so the Lee could confirm our flights for tomorrow. Why he didn't ask for them in the morning is beyond me.
At the embroidery factory, we saw tablecloths being made by hand and by machine. The factory workers, most of which were women, were also making beautiful silk Japanese wraps that were so intricate that it could take one person up to six months to complete.
Next to the work area, there was a shop -- right up Cheryl and my alley! Products offered were both embroidered and tie dyed silk items. This store visit was literally the beginning of the end for me and Cheryl as far as our relationship went with the other tour members.
The rest of the trip, she was not as into the bargaining as I was and it can be time consuming since it's a bit of an art. Needless to say, time slipped away.
Everyone boarded the bus prior to us. Cheryl had a smile from ear to ear, so proud of her purchase. But upon our arrival on the bus, one by one, the other people on our tour gave us a dirty look as we walked towards the back. By the time Cheryl sat, her smile had faded. Lee, our tour guide was laughing. Apparently he thought it was funny that everyone was mad at us and ultimately, it was a result of his incompetence. We heard Janice, who we had toured with since our arrival in Shanghai, and was sitting in front of us say in a very annoyed voice, "Oh, sure he stinks it's great, he hasn't had it for a week!"
It was at this point that we became aware that we were obviously getting on their nerves longer than we knew. Cheryl and I got annoyed that we were being talked about in such a blatant manner. We decided to write notes to each other instead of talk out loud so no one could hear us talking about them. Very childish, but I suppose if cell phones were around, we could have just texted one another.
That night, there was a "farewell" Peking Duck dinner and Cheryl and I decided right then and there on the bus, that we were going to "boycott" the group dinner since we did not want to be in anyone's company.
Our next stop was the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. No one was interacting with us, but we managed to laugh about it and not let it affect us. This time, however, it was Janice, who rushed us through the tour since she made it clear all day that she wanted to get back to the hotel in time to soak in the hotel pool before dinner. Another tour mate, Mamma Keefer, was very adamant saying "there was no need to even look at the Pagoda!"
In the end, Cheryl and I only got two pictures of this site, and that angered us. Throughout this trip, Cheryl and I developed a real affection for the pagoda. Cheryl noticed that the only word that truly rhymed with pagoda is "Vigoda" as in Abe Vigoda from the '70's sit-com "Fish." So, we decided to refer to this Chinese site from that day forward as the "Big Wild Abe Vigoda Goose Pagoda" which to this day makes us crack up.
Our final stop on our last day of touring in Xi'an was the City Wall of Xi'an. We took a few pictures and got one with Lee. The rest of the people on our tour were either rude to us or just ignored us. When we arrived back at the hotel, we just hung out. Cheryl took a nap; I read my book about Pu Wi (The Last Emperor). We decided to go to the hotel restaurant to have dinner, which was not the greatest -- a swiss cheese with butter sandwich (we never asked for the butter) and chicken soup for both of us.
It was an amazing trip!! Truly an adventure of a lifetime!
Thanks for following my 13 Part China Throwback Adventure!!
If you missed any, please catch up on Elisa's China Adventure!
One of my favorite stories from this amazing week-long China adventure was during our time in Xian.
It would be fair and accurate to call us ugly Americans at this point in our lives. We were loud, impatient, consistently late, young and spoiled. So it's no wonder the entire bus load of our fellow travelers hated us by the time we arrived in the third and final city of our tour, Xian.
Of all the cities we visited, Xian was the least developed and Westerners were still a novelty.
Throughout the trip, I was the one making all the souvenir purchase