Day 10â€“ Xi An to Beijing Â I was too tired to upload photos after the terra cotta soldier trip yesterday but here is one. Â Those of us on the panda express started early.Â It was a tough choice â€“ sleep in late (a luxury) or pay about $25 to travel to see the panda reserve.Â 20 hearty souls chose to be checked out of the hotel and in the lobby by 7 am to beat the rush hour traffic and get to the pandas when they were their most active.
We headed out of Xi An and got on a toll-way on our self titled Panda Express mini bus.Â By the way, just because itâ€™s a toll-way doesnâ€™t keep the locals from crossing with their cows, children or vehicles that are difficult to describe.Â Â I do hope to capture some traffic video â€“ weâ€™re still not used to it. We arrived in a small town and parked.Â The reserve is for all types of rare animals â€“ we saw peacocks (including an albino) and Golden Monkeys in addition to the pandas.Â Hannah wrote about visiting the cuddly bears so I wonâ€™t.
First place weâ€™ve been without a gift shop â€“ the place must not get many foreigners. Â After a wonderful visit, by the way, we were the only visitors and our guide said it was the most bears heâ€™d ever seen, we reloaded up for the journey back to Xi An.Â We met up with our regular buses at the Shaankxi Museum â€“ a free museum of the province.Â It was full of artifacts and paintings and unlike other â€œmuseumsâ€ we have visited it was a real museum.Â Museums here seem to be an opportunity to shop.Â We enter, get a short lecture about pearls, jade, terra cotta and then you enter an enormous gift shop.Â The running joke among the chaperones is we canâ€™t wait to get back to the Park Meadows Museum.Â The shops have done well â€“ you can look forward to heavier suitcases at DIA next week.
After we visited the real museum it was off to lunch.Â Â Itâ€™s usually either served family style or buffet.Â To make us feel welcome, French fries were served along with mild Sichuan food.Â We had a chef making us fresh rice noodle soup, kung pao chicken and many other familiar dishes.
Todayâ€™s â€œMuseumâ€ was the jade museum.Â Fortunately most of the kids were restrained at this one â€“ too expensive for our students.Â Or theyâ€™re shopped out although I doubt it.Â Â Then off to the Wild Goose Pagoda Park.Â This is a major pagoda with modern fountains in front.Â It was a very nice place to hang out and some of our students played their violins in the park.Â That attracted a large crowd and local police kept an eye on the situation.Â Â Â Itâ€™s the first time we know we were being watched.Â While we attract plenty of attention, usually it is local girls wanting photos with us.Â Â Then off to another meal before we hit the airport.Â Not that we needed it â€“ but teenagers do like to eat.Â Air travel is very easy here.Â Our guide negotiated a group baggage check in so we didnâ€™t have to show id to check our bags- they were lined up and fed onto an x-ray machine.Â At every airport so far, we have had our own baggage carrousel.Â This is very nice.Â Iâ€™m on the flight now and we were served yet another meal for a 1Â½ flight.Â Half our group is on China Eastern and the rest on some other carrier.Â Â We arrive into Beijing after 11pm so itâ€™ll be a late night.