Day 8

We packed up our bags and were on the buses by 8.  We went to a pearl museum.  We first got a brief lecture by a guy who gave the same lecture to Hillary Clinton.  Then we were ushered into a large room with a runway.  The music started and models entered parading down the runway modeling pearls and various evening gowns.  After that it was off to anouther room – the shop. Let’s just say there was something for everyone – lots of shopping opportunities for us to take advantage of.  There were both freshwater and saltwater pearls to choose from – we’ll have a large collection to show off.  Surprise – the shop took credit cards – the first I’ve seen for that!

After lunch, 1/2 of our group headed to the airport for their flight to Xian. The rest of us went on yet another river boat cruise.  This time we saw Guillin by boat and the town symbol – the Elephant Rock Formation.  The fresh air was terrific. 

We got to the airport and got thru security very quickly.  Our group flew on China Southern.  Given our group flew during the 5 pm hour, we were served dinner.  The flight as about 11/2 hours.  The leg room was equivalent to United Plus – for the first time in years, my knees didn’t hit the seat in front of me.  It was a great flight.  During the flight, the inflight entertainment included meditation exercises!  We joined in.  Our luggage arrived on its own carousel again.  That made our trip very smooth.  We were on our bus to dinner within minutes of arrival.

Xian is a small town of about 4 million according to my guide book.  The climate is cool right now and it is very dry.  It was quite a change from the wetness of the south.  We are in the center of China.  We were greeted by a very charismatic guide, Benny.  He’s very colorful.  We drove about an hour to reach a restauarnt that served us dinner.

Notice we are always eating.  We do something then eat – this cycle repeats several times a day.  It’s usally a buffet or family style dining.  The best meal we had was at the school but almost all have been great.  Some make an effort to serve familiar food – last night it was both mashed pototatoes and french fries.  We sometimes see eggs.  Often there are dishes we don’t recognize but they make a huge effort to label everything. 

This time we were in a large hotel wiith a huge buffet.  The cuisine is more Sechwan – more noodles, less rice and some heat.  The heat is on the side.  The kids are tasting everything.   often the head of whatever is on the plate - our more adventureous eaters partake.  

We arrived at the hotel about 8:30 and Benny suggested  a local activity – foot massages.  About 13 of us were game so off we went at about 9:30. We drove to another hotel and were placed in 2 rooms.  My room happened to have 2 other chaperones and Keynes.  The other room had 2 chaperones and the rest were kids.   We could hear them giggling.  After a good soaking in rose petal water, we were pampered and our health was assessed.  Seems I need to eat more vegatables.  My masseuse spoke some English and was very curious about our visit.  There is another youth symphony in town – he worked on them yesterday.  Keynes translated some but mostly we just relaxed.  They worked on our arms, legs, feet and a bit on our backs.  It was just what we needed.

It’s 5 am here and I can hear singing.  This part of China is very different from the South.  The people are bigger and more outgoing.  Today we leave to see the terra cota soldiers and a Ming tomb.  We will have free time tonight.

It’s been and will continue to be a very fast pace.  The kids are doing great- they are excited and willing to be a bit adventureous.  No major illnesses yet – a few respiratory issues – but nothing major.  The air in Guillin was wonderful – XIan, not so much.

Posted in China Trip 2010.