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THE TERRACOTTA WARRIORS

I woke up early to go to the station and take the tour to see the Warriors of Xian, the east circuit, the day was great! Me and Denise went together, I regretted taking the tour, we went through several expendable places and could have saved on tickets, since you only pay what you are to visit, besides the transport (USD 1.30) and the guide (USD 1.15), which were cheap, the tickets were expensive! We spent over an hour in a jade shop, despite the time spent no one was interested in buying anything.

The guide explained something in the van, but arriving at the place it had another guide proper to the tourist attraction, anyway we did not understand everything and ended up walking alone. And for the Warriors of Xian it had to pay another guide separately.

The tour was as follows:

•            Lintong Museum, it was waste of money, it could not be worst. The guide tricked us saying it worth.

•            Mount Lishan, where Chiang Kai Shek’s nationalist generals took refuge with the advance of communism, it was reasonable.

•            Xiangyu Barracks, only a few replicas of the Terracotta Warrior statues.

•            Qinling Palace, there was only a palace model and a few things in miniatures.

•            Museum of The Eight Wonders, it was reasonable, with mock-ups of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World plus the Terracotta Warriors, the Eighth Wonder.

•            Terracotta Warriors, the visit to Xian’s Warriors was half-race, the guide gave us only an hour and a half, which left me reviled.

The entry was RMB 90, I paid RMB 45 (USD 5.80 with the student card), it is better to go without much expectation not to be disappointed. There are three sheds, the main one being the largest and with hundreds of warriors. It was nice, but I expected to see the carriages, but there was only one and this one was in a glass, I wish I’d seen it in droves. And as for the soldiers, I expected to see closely and walk among them to see details of the faces, but it was not so. The photos I took up close with the warriors were replicas and were photographed elsewhere.

Altogether there are more than eight thousand statues of soldiers and horses in natural size and more than one hundred battle cars, arranged in regiments of infantry, cavalry and archers, not to mention the generals and officers who commanded the silent army. The pits where they were buried occupy a surface of 20 km², the ones that can be visited were sheltered by an immense pavilion and constitute only a part of the complex connected to the mausoleum of the emperor, which extends over an area of 56.2 km². They were buried about 2200 years ago. In 1974, a group of peasants from Xiyang village who dug a well by Mount Lishan discovered the first pieces of terracotta statues, a type of baked clay, and ancient bronze weapons.

The discovery of terracotta statues contributed to the scholars coming to a clearer conception of the dynasty of Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di. Today it is already known that it was in this period that the standardization of writing, currency, weights, measurements and the width of the axles of vehicles used in transport took place. The emperor is also credited with the beginning of the construction of the first version of the Great Wall.

Qin Shi Huang, his real name was Ying Zheng, was a feudal lord endowed with political and military qualities, cruel and tyrant. He ascended the throne at the age of thirteen, conquering and eliminating six rival kingdoms, founding China’s first unified state, the Qin dynasty, which grouped a large number of ethnicities. He adopted the title of Shi Huang Di (founding emperor) and lived about fifty years, from 259 BC to 210 BC.

Strongly superstitious, Qin Shi Huang believed in the eternal life of his kingdom and dynasty, he began to build his mausoleum soon after ascending to the throne. The works lasted for 36 years and even requested more than 700,000 men, most of whom were convicted and prisoners of war. The tomb itself, stood at 115m high, today due to soil erosion reduced to 70m, and is surrounded by two walls. The complex host a palace where the emperor’s stone sarcophagus was placed, surrounded by objects and statues in silver, gold and precious stones of incalculable value.

The first cesspool contains an infantry battalion supported by horse-drawn cars, distributed according to a precise war strategy; the second was filled with divisions of archers and cavalry; the third reserved for the General Staff. In addition to the military cesspits 1500m from the mausoleum, the complex comprises cesspits with statues of civilians and hundreds of other galleries, in the mass graves were sacrificed the craftsmen who worked on the work – these ditches reproduce the land empire of Qin Shi Huang. The warriors and horses symbolized the elite army that guarded it in its passage to the other world. It is estimated that these statues have been cooked at a temperature of 950ºC to 1050ºC and their quality and resistance reveals well the technological level of Chinese ceramics, more than 2000 years ago.

At night, we Brazilians ate Moroccan food made by Regiane, we ate with the right hand. The flat and baked bread, called “nan” was similar to a pizza, we dipped the “nan” in the pan to try to catch the meatballs in a red sauce, which was not tomato.

Xian terracotta warriors.            

The next day it was hot. Denise left our city this morning, but maybe I’ll find her again in Taiwan.

At lunch I was going to look for another Cantonese restaurant, but on the way I ended up meeting Henry the Uighur, and we went to eat typical Uighur food with two other friends of his who had not yet adopted a name in English, suggested and they readily accepted: Jack and Tommy, one came to study English and the other French. We ate the chopped pasta by hand and the lamb kebab, which incidentally was something that I ate most in Xian. This time they paid the bill, because I had paid Henry another day. As they were Muslims they had concerns about food, so we did not go to the Cantonese restaurant, they did not eat pork and I think they didn’t want to eat any dish made in the same pot the pork was made either.

I always made a point of paying the bill, because most of the people I knew were students and life here wasn’t easy, but they insisted on paying. Anyway, I always took my friends to a cheap restaurants, so no one would spend too much.

The dinner was also the farewell of Alexandre, who would spend only a couple of months in Brazil. We went to the wonderful Thai restaurant “Banana Leaf”, he ended up paying the bill.

The next day it was no longer hot and the sky was half overcast, the temperature was good. I had a sandwich at home, it should have been the second time I had my meal myself. It was more practical to go out to eat and sometimes it would come out even cheaper when I ate simple things.

I studied Mandarin and took a Cantonese class with Teresa. I went out to dinner with Teresa and Steven at a Cantonese restaurant. Cantonese is the language of southern China, from Guangzhou Province.

I haven’t had diarrhea in a long time, I didn’t miss it. Normally the foreigners had here, Regiane was already a whole month with diarrhea, but Daniela, extraordinarily, had diarrhea once for a whole year. I think I only had about three or four.

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THE IMPERIAL TOMBS

I woke up around 7:00 in the morning. I took a bus to the train station to join the tour. The traffic in the vicinity of the station is always very complicated.

On the highway there was traffic jam and everything was stopped. The cars started to go back in the other lane. My bus where there were only Chinese did the same, returned to the toll site to be able to take the highway on the other side by the opposite hand. I was a little apprehensive, because the cars and trucks came from the front giving high headlight.

Due to the delay, we didn’t go to one of the museums, maybe I hadn’t missed anything at all. The sights I went to were:

•            Maoling Museum, a well-kept place with carved animal-shaped rocks belonging to the Han dynasty (206a. C to 24d. C.), its construction began in 139a.C. It was 40km from Xian.

•            Qianling Museum, was a kind of history museum with wax statues, mockups, reconstruction of ancient scenery, nothing impressive.

•            Qianling Mausoleum, it was interesting, there was an outdoor corridor with some statues on both sides and a hill to climb. Belonging to the Tang dynasty (618D.C. to 907d. C.), had several tombs around him. It was 50 miles from Xian.

•            Tomb of Princess Yong Tai of the Tang Dynasty. At the site there was a tunnel, and at the end of the tunnel was the large black stone sarcophagus of the young and beautiful princess who was sentenced to death at seventeen by her tyrant grandmother in 701.

•            Faman Temple, last place visited and the furthest 120km from Xian, beautiful place with monks, was a Buddhist temple, but after so many temples, it looked all the same to me. There was a thirteen-story pagoda. Outside I ate the “Chinese Shwarma”, the bread was baked on the plate and the meat was precooked before it was grilled.

Surprisingly no one smoked on the bus!

The workers work till late, day and night they are opening or closing holes in the street or sidewalk. Men and women, often ladies, in normal attire often without the use of company uniform. In another city, I saw people paving the road without the machines we know, all manually, for example, without the use of the truck with steamroller. To open a hole, they didn’t use a jackhammer, they hammered with their hands anyway. Of course not every place was like this, in some places should use modern machines.

Chinese workers

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THE MILLENARY CHINESE CUISINE

Today it was a sunny day and a good weather. I looked at the map of the city and took a bus to the monument that marks the beginning of the Silk Road, it started in Xian and ended in Baghdad.

While exchanging a few dollars in the bank, I began to smell an unpleasant smell, I looked at the sole of my shoes, but there was no indication of having stepped on something unwanted, I noticed then that the smell came from the street, the so-called “stinky tofu”, the fermented soy cheese, a Chinese delicacy that usually emits an unpleasant odor.

From the monument I went to the center (“Bell Tower”), it was very crowded, some foreigners and especially many, many Chinese! The whole week would be like this, due to the holiday week. I finally found the Grand Mosque, which had a half-hidden entrance, but I decided to visit it in another day. Then I stopped by the “electronic mall” to buy a microphone for my computer.

I took a Cantonese class with Steven and last night I had dinner at a Cantonese restaurant, my favorite. I used to go there about five times a week. And always asked for something different in the menu of the day. To order the food, I had to look at someone’s dish at the table near by and point out that I wanted it, or I could read the ideogram of beef to make any request that had that ingredient. The restaurant was small and very dirty, the price was at the average local price, ranged from USD 0.50 to 1.20. And I had to share the table with any local, even if the table was already occupied, like it was in a college canteen, it used to fill up with students. It was in front of the XISU, where the “English Corner” took place, just across the avenue.

The next day once again made a good time. I tried to visit some temples in the south of the city, according to the guide, just take bus 215 until the end, and from there take a “rickyshaw”, the motorcycle cab with cabin, in South Africa it was called “rick”, but no one knew how to inform me anything. Frustrated, I went to the train station at the north gate of the wall, checked the tour package for tomorrow, for the Circuit of the Imperial Tombs, the western circuit. And not to lose the habit, I ended up strolling in the center.

I found a Taiwanese restaurant in the center, near the south gate, where I finally found the “zhong zhu” or “ba zhan” in Taiwanese, in Brazil they call it Chinese “pamonha”, but there is no similarity, the only similarity is the fact that both are wrapped in leaf of some plant. The “zhong zhu” was made of a kind of sticky rice. I thought it would be easy to find this food here in this country.

A funny thing is that sometimes on the city map it had a historical point, a tomb, but it couldn’t be found at all, as if it had been removed.

With so many daily walks, I’ve lost about 3kg in these two and a half months. Excellent, I was getting in shape!

The variety of ingredients and ways of preparing the dishes make Chinese cuisine one of the richest in the world. There are more than ten thousand dishes and about twenty different regional cuisines. In an immense country, with great climatic and landscape differences, there is a wide variety of dishes, dependent on an infinite range of products. Chinese cuisine has strongly influenced Japanese cuisine and many Southeast Asian countries, in addition to Central Asia, not to mention its influence on the world cuisine, after all noodles are a Chinese invention taken to Italy.

The hunger, poverty and wars that marked the country’s history caused the Chinese to set aside food taboos and take literally advantage of anything that could be taken to the mouth. Alongside rice, soy, pork, fish and vegetables, exotic delicacies often appear to the Western palate, such as shark fin, tiger penis, dog and cat meat, bat, snake, scorpion or locust.

In ancient times, the guests used the chopsticks and the spoons. There were no knives on the table because all the food was cut into small pieces so they could be caught with chopsticks. It was inconceivable to cut the food on the table while eating, it was considered something rude.

When preparing a typical Chinese meal, the cook is usually guided by various principles. The main one is the Taoist of Yin and Yang, the two complementary opposites. In the usual round table, where everything is arranged at once, soup, rice, pasta or bread, vegetables, meats, poultry or fish cooked in different techniques usually appear. One dish should be sweet (Yin) and the other salty (Yang); one cold (Yin) and the other hot (Yang); one soft (Yin) and the other crispy (Yang). The final picture is a feast that stirs all the senses. A good Chinese dish obeys four commandments: it has color, aroma, taste and presentation.

The Chinese believe that the meal should be a joint experience and this translate the cooperation that exists between family and friends. People serve each other in small portions.

Although they have a common base, it is possible to separate Chinese cuisine into four major regions:

•            from the North (Beijing), which was for years the capital of the Empire;

•            from the Central Maritime Region (Shanghai), where the handling of fish reaches its greatest refinement;

•            from Sichuan inland, sweet and very characteristic;

•            from Guangzhou (Guangdong), which mixes the elements of all.

The gastronomy of Guangzhou is the best known, due to its richness and diversity to a historical fact, the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644 when emigration to the south was general. The venerable Beijing cooks and their kitchen equipment from the imperial palace made a long march. On their way they collected the great dishes from the kitchens of the mandarins of the provinces, which were thus incorporated into the Cantonese cuisine. In Guangzhou, breeding animals such as dog, cat, snake and monkey go to the plate. Even in China, this cuisine is considered very cruel. What the Chinese talk about this cuisine is that: “you eat everything that has four legs but the table, everything that flies except the plane, everything that swim but the boat”. There are always people who try to organize movements against this cuisine; but on the other hand, there are a lot of curious people.

Rice is the main item of an Asian cuisine. It is so essential that it incorporated the way of expressing itself, when a Chinese receives a visit at home, he always asks “have you eaten rice?” instead of simply asking “have you eaten” or “have you had lunch?”.

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NATIONAL DAY AND THE SECRET CHURCH

Today was the national holiday of October 1st. The Chinese have been celebrating the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since 1949. The holiday lasts a week because it ends up joining with the Mid-Autumn Festival. It’s one of the most important holidays here in China. There are parades and shows all over the country, but I didn’t watch anything.

The sun came up a little bit and the weather was nice, but with a slight mist. On the Sunday morning I went to visit a clandestine evangelical Christian church along with a Chinese graduate in English – I had a Xianese lunch there. I was anxious because I always heard about these “secret” and “illegal” churches. In fact, as there is a certain restriction on freedom of religion, the faithful end up gathering secretly in their homes. A Korean pastor was expelled from Xian due to his pastoral activities. There is still persecution of Christians and members of other religions and sects, people are arrested, tortured, sent to labor camps and some are “missing”. Every Christian church must join the Movement of The Three Autonomies (MTA), being the Patriotic Church, the puppet of the Chinese Communist Party (PCC), otherwise it is considered illegal, clandestine and in some cases criminal. The policy of freedom of belief is a big lie, it is easy to search on the internet news of persecution against Catholics, Protestants and members of Falun Gong, Buddhists and Muslins in China.

In the second half of 1950, the camouflaged religious oppression began, under the pretext of political reform, called the “Movement of the Three Autonomies”. By virtue of this movement, the Church in China should completely get rid of foreign influence.

The three autonomies are:

•            Autonomy of government, that is, the guarantee of church leadership to the Chinese, without any kind of external interference;

•            Propaganda autonomy, that is, faith should be propagated only by the Chinese;

•            Economic autonomy, churches should be maintained only with Chinese and never foreign funds.

Official statistics say that in China there are 10 million Protestants, all from the Patriotic Association, born of the MTA. The “stowaways” are estimated at 50 million. In 2005 alone, the Chinese government arrested 1958 people among pastors and faithful.

Christianity was introduced by the Nestorians in China in the 7th century (after Christ, of course), as it was the Islam. Buddhism was introduced in the 1st century BC, Taoism arose in the 6th century BC, and Confucianism emerged in the 4th century BC.

In the afternoon, Steven and I went out to walk a little aimlessly and ended up going for a walk in the Botanical Gardens. Bland and ill-taken care of by the way. I was much more in the mood to see the National Day celebrations. In the evening I went to see the fountain show at the Great Pagoda with Kang. There were groups of foreigners excursions, in addition to many Chinese, it’s too many people in this country.

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SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE, BANANA AND RAINS

Today the weather was rainy, as it would be during the next five days. And the heater got too hot!

The lunch was spaghetti bolognese in the apartment of Regiane, it was a long time since I had last seen this dish! Afterward, I took a class with Kang.

Eating in China is very cheap, especially in small towns. I’ve paid up to RMB 2 in small meals, which is about R $ 0.58 (less than USD 0.50). But this is an extreme, on average spent from RMB 8 to RMB 12 per meal, which is between R$ 2 to R$ 3 (between USD 1 and USD 2). Things in Xian were a little more expensive than in Kashgar, but still much cheaper compared to Beijing or Hong Kong.

I caught a cold. I had lunch at a Uighur restaurant and in the afternoon I had Cantonese class with Steven, then we talked about random subjects to spend time since it was drizzling. He was a Christian, rare to find in this country.

Some Chinese locals compared me to a banana, that is, yellow on the outside and white on the inside, because I have the physiognomy of an Asian and inside I think like a Westerner.

I slept about 12 hours in a row, because of the cold I was very tired. I took a Cantonese class with Teresa and went out to have a dinner with Flavio, Regiane, Aaron and Steven. I almost didn’t study today.

In this country I’ve seen funny things, such as:

•            Seeing Chinese going out simply in their pajamas. The women in colorful pajamas, vermilion or pink, I came to see a man in ceroula! In Brazil I also go out in pajamas, since I sleep in sweatshirt or shorts and T-shirt, but I think it’s different, isn’t it?

•            Watching restaurant staff dancing and do stretching exercises in the morning in front of the restaurants, as if it were a military order, they probably thought it was weird for me to photograph them.

•            Dance in the parks in large groups, mostly women, especially ladies. Someone took the speakers and the crowd dance synchronized to the rhythm of the music, in the late afternoon and evening. On other occasions I have observed social dance for couples.

•            People bought takeout food and took their food in plastic bags, rather than styrofoam or aluminum packaging or lunch boxes.

•            They also bought juices, soft drinks, teas and ice coffees in plastic bags and drank with straw while they walked. Later I would realize that it was something common in Southeast Asia.

….

Today was the fourth day of unrelenting rain and cold, unlike other days when there was no cold. Today I got all wet, just walked with the raincoat, did not like to wear umbrellas, from the thigh down I was soaked. All I had left was a long pair of pants and a pair of dry boots, these pants I used to sleep too!

The Mandarin class with Kang was at her college where she was doing grad school. I went on foot and came back by bus.

I did a little cleaning at home. Then I had dinner with Flavio, Seal, a Chinese and a beautiful and friendly Korean in a Cantonese restaurant, whose food is typical of the South.

I had to buy an umbrella for RMB 10 (USD 1.30), you could find for this price in Japan too, the only thing in Japan that is cheaper than in Brazil.

….

On the fifth day of rain the cold was more intense! According to the weather channel forecast there would be ten more days of rain ahead, after that there was no forecast, but it should be rain. Today the rain was a little weaker.

Here in China one should be very careful with the goods, after all I was in the “Land of Pirates” and I had bought a fake iPod, flash drive and backpack in Beijing, only the backpack was still functioning. Here things are made not to last, all of the lowest quality, it is included in this list even home plumbing, Flavio says so. It is very rare to find original DVD, in relation to the quality of pirated DVDs, they are very good being difficult to visibly differentiate between copies and originals, sometimes the recording was in the cinema theater with subtitles of any another movie. The government has stepped up actions against DVD piracy only. Here you can also have a sandwich at KFC or KLC, and have coffee at Starbuck’s or Starduck’s. Even cars and airplanes are cloned.

I took a class with Teresa. Cantonese is funny and I’m finding it a bit difficult, but not as much as Japanese, since it bears some resemblance to Mandarin and Taiwanese, due to phonemes, whose languages I already have familiarity, but it is totally incomprehensible among people who speak only one of these three languages.

At lunch I ordered a dish of noodle with meat, the woman got it wrong and brought me rice with meat.

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VOLUNTEER WORK

Day of mild fog, weak sun and pleasant temperature. I had lunch with several foreigners (Australian, American, French, Colombian and Brazilian). I don’t know why foreigners had a habit of ordering a plate of corn only! They were all Chinese students and knew how to order various Chinese dishes, which I didn’t know, but they never dispised a dish of corn.

There are foreigners and backpackers who do voluntary social work outside their country of origin, regardless of the creed or religion they follow or practice. There are those who live in the country doing permanent work, and there are also those who do temporary work (in the case of backpackers).

Lok (already mentioned in Kashgar) was going to do a work in Africa. Laetitia, quoted in Xining, was in Vientiane (Lao’s capital) for work. Oriane was in Cambodia. And here in China I met some foreigners doing social work.

Today I accompanied a group (English and Chinese) to distribute soup and bread to beggars on the street, it is a rewarding job in personal terms. Helping others, poor and needy people, unfortunately is something that a few do, even less practiced by the Chinese, after all most have no religion and many only think of themselves. For security reasons, I didn’t take any picture. We went “hunting” the beggars in the city center of Xian to offer food, a few refused but others accepted with a smile on their faces. Those in need lay on the ground, both in public streets and in dark alleys. With the cold coming we took a couple of socks too, it was not uncommon for some beggars to die of cold during the harsh winter. As we distributed, some Chinese simply watched and surprised the rare scene of helping others, even more performed by foreigners. Some said: “They are Christians!”. The foreigners had made friends with some of the poor in the region, who were always happy to see them.

Here in China you don’t see street children, because they’re either kidnapped to be sold or enslaved, or they stay in orphanages that are far from the center, strategically away from the eyes of tourists. And the orphanages here are sad!

Right after the food distribution, I stopped by the English Corner to see my friends.

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THE “ENGLISH CORNER”

The weather was bad and I had no hot water. Flavio and I went to take a shower at Jade’s house. And at night I went to the English Corner with Regiane. The “English Corner” takes place every Thursday night in the square of XISU (Xian International Study University). Hundreds of Chinese students gather there to practice English or simply to have a contact with some foreigner, others wanted to show off before colleagues. I was glad that Regiane was with me, so she attracted a lot of Chinese, although I wanted to practice my Chinese not English, it was fun. It is was possible to contact a Chinese who worked in the auto parts industry and wanted to expand operations to Brazil.

When the Chinese saw Regiane, a foreign women, they soon began to coalesce around her, like moths vying for their space around a lighted lamp. So, Regiane had attracted enough people not to be able to answer the hundreds of questions and they saw that I was next to her not facing her, and every now and then I talked to her in Portuguese. Then they started talking to me, because I also answered the questions addressed to her to realize that I was from the outside. Then another circle was formed around me, which expanded a little more, like cells in division during mitosis, I no longer could see Regiane in the crowd.

The students were mostly girls, students of foreign language or simply people graduated from another course who wanted to learn English. Sometimes even a child would show up to practice or just to see a foreigner. We arrived between seven and eight o’clock at night, Regiane was tired and left before, I stayed until about 11pm. Next Thursday I would go again to have fun!

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NO LIGHT AND NO WATER

Today I had no electricity. Since the water heater was solar, all I had to do was hope for the sun to shine, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to shower or would have to take a cold bath or go to someone’s house with a gas heater.

In the afternoon I went to the post office downtown to send some postcards.

Since it was dark, we suspended the private class at night and went for a walk on Kang’s campus, I hitchhiked on her bike. Kang and I always had good conversations about religion and politics, but because my Chinese vocabulary was limited, we always talked in English. I loved provoking her by criticizing communism, Chinese habits and the controversial issue of Taiwan. She had a friend who wanted to play soccer with me, just because I was Brazilian, but I didn’t play football. The Chinese think that all Brazilians play soccer, just as Brazilians think all Chinese practice kung-fu. I didn’t practice either, much to everyone’s frustration.

The next day it had no water! So in the morning I went to the KFC’s toilet, about fifteen minutes walk from home, it was very clean but it had to squat. I took the opportunity to study right there, at the KFC table (not in the toilet). In the afternoon I slept at home and then studied, now I knew a hundred Chinese ideograms. I had class last night. I remember when I was a child and in São Paulo sometimes lacked either water or electricity.

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THE IMMORTALS

I went to Ba Xian An Si or Taoist Temple of the Eight Immortals, by the way they were all dead, it was at east of the East Gate (of the City Wall). Being the only Taoist temple of Xian, it was built in the Song dynasty (960AD–1279AD), but restored several times in successive subsequent dynasties, the main structures today were built in the Qing dynasty (1644AD–1911AD). There was no attraction in this temple, I’d say the visit was a waste of time. Outside there was a market with shops and stalls selling antiques or common objects in ancient eras, such as fans, bronze mirrors, porcelain, coins, brushes for Chinese calligraphy. I also passed through a park, the Yingqing Park, equally monotonous.

I had dinner with Linda and Susan (English), Regiane and Flavio, at Susan’s house, the owner of the pizzeria where we ate on August 2. Linda’s food was good, pasta in funghi sauce, but the English don’t seem to have the habit of repeating the dish.

The next day I took a Mandarin conversation class for the first time with Kang Li. I asked her to buy Lonely Planet from Southeast Asia over the Internet because I couldn’t find it in major import bookstores and it was getting worried about my next part of the trip.

The dinner was at a Japanese restaurant with Alexandre in a mall in Xian, who wanted to import Brazilian coffee. It also dined with us Daniela, the girlfriend of the soccer player Vicente (I can not remember which Brazilian team) and Flávio. Alexandre was annoyed when the waitresses held the beer bottle by the body, instead of holding it by the neck of the bottle, and I got angry when there was no cold soda. The Chinese didn’t mind drinking hot beer or soda.

The next day was beautiful, I took more pictures of Tang Paradise Park where I went to study. In relation to my studies I used the Flavio’s books, I was self-taught. I went to the TV tower near Flavio’s house but unfortunately it was not open to visitation.

I slept late every day. I kept updating my late blog day and night. On Vicente’s birthday, the Brazilians went to his flat. There was coxinha, pastel, chicken and meat pie, “brigadeiros” and “beijinhos”, all made by Daniela. Among the guests, in addition to the Brazilians, the were a Croatian blond soccer player and his family, and another black player from some country in Africa, all of them playing in teams from China.

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THE PAGODAS

Today I have updated my blog, it was another beautiful day. I met Kang Li, a graduate student in automation engineering, she was 26 years old and smart, a bit plump and wore glasses. She was going to give me some private Chinese lessons, just conversational. It was Flavio who introduced me, she taught him too. I was looking forward to starting studying right away.

I had lunch at the cafeteria of the college where Flavio was studying with him and Aaron, an Australian guy. I found it a little messy, like any cafeteria of any college, there was only Chinese food as expected and had to eat with chopsticks, the food was good as well as Flavio’s dinner, the fried noodles.

The next day would be the independence holiday in Brazil (September 7th). I had lunch with Flavio, Regiane, Jade (the chubby Korean-English), Jeff (the obese American) and Caroline (the beautiful Sino-Filipino-Canadian), all of which were studying Chinese here.

I went to visit the Dayan Ta (the Great Wild Goose Pagoda), the area was very beautiful and well maintained, I almost felt in Japan. The pagoda was built in 652 AD, in the Tang dynasty, no one knows why it has that name. Pagoda is a type of Buddhist or Taoist tower, and this was 64m high, you could get a good view of the city from the top.

In the huge block north of the pagoda there was the show at the water fountain, the largest in the world, which took place every day, day and night and it was crowded with many local Chinese. The show synchronized music and splashes of water, while some people had fun running and trying to escape the water jets, it was occupying a block divided into four or five blocks. Next to the Dayan Ta, there were two well-wooded parks, the eastern one attracting attention for being themed, possessing giant theater masks, sculptures and artistic statues.

Xiaoyan Ta (the Little Wild Goose Pagoda) was built in 709 AD, with 45m high, it was 2km from the big pagoda, also south of the city wall south gate, but I was not interested in visiting this one.

Later in the afternoon I went to Tang Paradise Park, a theme park and very beautiful. Opened in April 2005, the park was intended to showcase culture during the Tang dynasty (617 AD to 907 AD). It has several pavilions and buildings in the style of that time and a large lake with thousands of colorful and hungry carps, as well as statues, music, dance, souvenirs, food and smell of incense, all to convey to our five senses the essence of the grandeur and prosperity of the Tang dynasty.

I bought the annual pass for 150yuan (USD 20), since the entry was 50Y (very expensive!). I stayed until the evening, at 20:30 there was the exhibition of the water film, but before it began with a parade, a staging with the costumes dressed the old-fashioned way. The aquatic film was fantastic, it was projected in the waters of the fountain, giving the impression of holographic or three-dimensional projection. It was a story with the legendary monkey Sun Wu Kong as a hero, there was the dance of the waters, laser beams, fireworks and music.

Here in Xian the student card is well accepted, unlike other cities, I used my graduate student card to get into the pagoda and the wall with discount.

Written by Traveler Ni

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