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Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
Trip End Jan 04, 2012

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What I did

Flag of China  , Shaanxi,
Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Xi'an is a busy place. It's still a little behind the times when you compare it to Beijing or Shanghai as there are street vendors everwhere. To be honest.. everything smells a little bad, and thats not just when you walk past a little nook along the city wall which has been used clearly by some hardy local - but there are some uncomfortable smells and drips which you prefer not to think about. The habits of the people I am becoming more used to, but I don't think thats necessarily a good thing. I comfortably walked through a young child's stream that had been formed on the pavement shortly (a millisecond) after Kate had warned me and I didnt seem all that bothered. I'm just used to it now. Parents happily hold thier children on the pavement and let them go for it to save the hassle I expect of finding a public loo. The same happened when we visited a museum and a small girl popped behind an ancient tablet (outside exhibit) and hitched up her skirt to have a sneaky pee only metres away - it barely registered. Its not that it doesnt happen in the UK. It's just I choose not to go to the areas where it does happen. We're kinda forced into those areas now. Kate is still a bit hypocritical not recognising that we are as bad as the chinese in terms of letting our countries children run ferral - we've been doing it for years and are more than comfortable to allow kids to run riot without any real control. Anyways, mini note over onto the substance...

Over the last couple of days it has been a bit of a culture feast which has led me to remark to Kate that I can't wait for a good old fashioned theme park (roll on Hong Kong). We've looked around on tuesday the Drum tower and the Bell tower of Xi'an - two very recognisable sights in the centre of Xi'an. I however spent most of my time filming some chinese driving around the roundabout that encircled the Drum tower. It was crazy, a minor shunt and the bus stopped in the middle of 'Picadilly Circus' and started wanting photos and clearly phoning his boss. He then (leaving his bus in the middle of the roundabout) started wandering around on his phone oblivious to the hooting and the traffic.
We circled the muslim quarter of Xi'an as we couldn't find the entrance for the Great Mosque (should be retitled the "Great bloody hard to find Mosque"). We found it down some unidentified tiny alley, built for the borrowers hoarded with stalls selling tack. The mosque itself was a highlight displaying some great carvings and religious artefacts as well as being nice and quiet (nobody else could find it, it seemed).
Kate wanted to buy a wooden frog on leaving the hawker stalls (one that ribbited when you ran a wooden stick across its back) but I suggested it was a little early to start collecting spaff in our bags.
On our last day in Xi'an (next day) we visited the gloriously overpriced 'Forest of Steles', of which the most interesting part of the site was a side museum devoted to buddhist sculpture. We found it entertaining due to the amount of large sculptures we could stand and pose next to.
The forest of Steles itself is a museum with hundreds of stone tablets depicting famous writings from Chinese past (the guys with the long beards such as Confucius and what not). It's a little bit like going into a library where you can't read anything and some clever spark has decided that a book is't good enough and what you really need is to take a book and put it into handy stone tablet form. A kindle would have blown poor old Confucius's mind.
We popped into the 'Small Goose Pagoda' - no small geese (only swans) and the pagoda itself wasn't even that small. The pagoda video was interesting and gave some information about how the Chinese 'engineered' the ground conditions beneath the Pagoda to help it stand under lightning strikes. I was in my element and as discussed with Kate it sounded more like luck.

The place was nice though, good park, pleasant museum  but over the two days - cultural overload. Bring on the Pandas.
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