A Travellerspoint blog

China

The Hard Sell at the Buddhist Temple

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Yesterday, I took a long walk to the giant wild goose Pagoda in Xi'an. This entailed walking past the old city, past the walls, into the new city. The later part of the walk was boring, and wasn't very nice. But the weather has improved greatly. It was sunny and warm enough to walk around without a jacket.

Once I arrived at the Pagoda, the water show started. This was one of the largest water shows in Asia, with the water in tune to the music (this time Chinese music), similar to what I saw back in Dubai.

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After the water show, i wandered around the complex. I took a nap on a bench only to be awakened by a police officer. I then walked over to the pagoda. This pagoda was part of a temple, which according to the volunteer guide who approached me, whose English was sort of poor, was the first Buddhist temple in China. The pagoda was used to store all of the documents regarding the Buddhist text, and the translation into Chinese.

This temple had a drum tower and bell tower. I learned that the temple has three figured-the main Buddha, whose name is Sakyamuni, and to the left and right. Amitābha sits to the right of him, and Baiṣajyaguru sits to the left of him. The guide said these two figures had the scriptures of the Buddha or something like that, but I am not sure that is correct. As I said, the guide's English was hard to understand, and she seemed to be yessing me.
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She explained that the lion was good look in Chinese, as was the dragon, so these two animals we're everywhere, and there was a lotus flower as well which signified purity.

After all of this, she took me to a large room and wrote my name in Chinese. Here she tried to encourage me to buy a painting by one of the Buddhist monks, and gave kept insisting that the money goes towards the temple. When I refused, we went to another room, where all sorts of jade necklaces we're for sale, and little figurines of lions and dragons. Once again, she kept trying to encourage me to buy something as the money goes to the temple. Finally, we went to another shop with books and postcards. Both her and the sales staff we're sort of pushy.

I walked around, and left the temple. I returned to the hostel-took a nap, and then went to a dumpling and Tang Dynasty Dancing show. The dinner of different types of dumplings was good. I was the only one from the hostel and going, and my host didn't understand that I didn't want to sit at a table for 8 alone-I was able to sit with two newlyweds, and they we're even given a cake to celebrate their honeymoon. They we're from Texas, and since there we're few Caucasians, and few Americans, it was nice to talk to them.
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After that, we saw the show, which was quite entertaining. There we're dances like "dance in springtime", where ladies and men would do elegant dances to elaborate backdrops. After about 8 of these dances, I was able to walk back to the hostel, where I went to bed early,
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Posted by DavidPearlman 16:24 Archived in China Comments (0)

Pu__y in my hostel room and Born to Terracotta

Yesterday I awoke to the sound of paws scratching the bed in my hostel, and the sound of scratching fur. It turns out one of my roommates let the hostel cat in our room. It's a gentle cat, and while I sleeping with a woman might seem unusual, sleeping with a cat in the room feels perfectly normal, as I have had cats for over 20 years.

After waking up, it was time for breakfast. There is a buffet breakfast at the hostel for about $6.00, which seems to much for me, so I took a walk outside, and noticed someone with a storefront with a lady with a giant pot and a spoon, and who was serving sometime of goop to a long line of people-so I had the goop, which was some type of dark chicken soup with hot sauce, for around $1.00 for breakfast.
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Then I went back to the hostel for the tour of the Terracotta warriors. The tour guide picked me up about 10 for the 1 and 1/2 hour trip to the warriors. After getting the tickets, we we're showing three different rooms, one with the warriors in pretty bad condition (just pieces of the torso, heads, and other body parts we're visible), and other parts with the warriors in better condition, and finally the section with the warriors in the best condition. It turns out the warriors we're for the tomb of Qunshi Huangdi, the first emporer of the Qin era. I also found out that this was all discovered by a farmer in 1974 on his land.

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After seeing the warriors it was time for the two must-haves on any group tour:

(A) A lunch at a "bargain price", (where I believe the tour guide eats for free). This lunch, which was the same price as breakfast at the hostel, was actually quite good. There was a lot of different dishes served on a lazy susan, and I was quite full.

(B) An opportunity to buy stuff. This started with a tea presentation, where a lady gave us a choice of ten different teas to choose from (we all chose three), each tea claiming to cure different aliments, such as diabetes, indigestion, etc. And of course, a chance to buy the teas, tea sets, etc. It was somewhat interesting, as the teas we're poured on certain instruments which tell how hot the tea was.
IMG_2916.jpg. Then a special treat: Selling books on Xi'an, was none other but the farmer who discovered the warriors on his land:

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Finally, we went to look at the tomb where the Emporer was buried. We couldn't get real close, or close at all. We we're told he was buried in a hill in the distance, and that we can take a picture of the hill-that was as close as we could get.
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After the 1 1/2 hour drive back to the hostel, i took a short nap. I then walked back to the Bell Tower at the central part of the town, and through a market selling weird types of food. I bought anther serving of lots of fruit, with the guy who cuts up all the pieces, with dance music and a speaker through a megaphone. I then had some type of bread with cheese, and finally spicy potatoes, all from vendors. I looked at the Grand Mosque in the center of town, which was modest compared to those in the Arabic countries I have been to. I made it back to the hostel, and had a few beers with some folks from my room.
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Posted by DavidPearlman 16:59 Archived in China Comments (0)

Xianing the Wall

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Yesterday was the first day in Xi'an, and it was quite cold and cloudy. I

I got out of the hostel early and not sure what to do, I walked over to the city walls which surround the old city.First I passed a park, and saw some middle-aged women doing some strange dance, with kids following them.
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Then, I passed by some eateries. One had a scene where you would sip something (looked like some type of soup), and throw the dish in a pile and smash it. There was a huge crowd doing this and watching it. 90_IMG_2792.jpg90_IMG_2791.jpg

I paid roughly $5.00 and walked up to the old walls. I walked past the old watch towers, and admired the views, and read the signs which described the history of the walls, built during the Tang dynasty, and restored over the past 50 years. The signs described the purpose of the guard posts, and the different weapons which we're used at the time. I also saw folks pose for wedding pictures. The total length of the walls is approximately 8 miles, but I only walked about half of that (roughly 4 miles). As one can imagine, walking the wall got boring after a while, as the view remains the same.

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So I exited off on of the viewpoints, and walked around the city. I found yet another Wal-Mart, which I found some q-tips and deodorant, which I couldn't find the day before. I found cheap places for food, and had some spicy sandwhich with onions, peppers, and some type of meat. I walked back on a pedestrian mall, and heard dance music coming from one store, and saw large crowds. I walked in and saw all types of fruits. Apples, oranges, pineapples, melons, and every other type of fruit imaginable. And one guy was giving out containers for this fruit. After taking all the fruit, a guy would slice it all into little pieces, and give out toothpicks to eat them. There was a large crowd waiting for this. So I took my fruit to this guy and he sliced them up. That was my dinner-a gigantic container of fruit-and it was very good.

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I then walked back to the hostel, and had a few beers with some people there.

Posted by DavidPearlman 15:24 Archived in China Comments (0)

Taking the Fast Train to Xi'an-Low Prices and Living Better

Yesterday, I checked out of the hostel in Shanghai. Shanghai was ok, but nothing special. The temples we're similar to what I had seen in Hong Kong. The European buildings we're nice, but similar to what I saw in Europe. The market selling crickets and squirrels was interesting, though. As we're the stalls selling Chinese street food.

So yesterday I left to take the 6 hour rail journey to Xi'An-home to the Terracotta warriors. The price for flying and taking the high speed train was fairly comparable, but I wanted to see the country, and I was tired of going to the airport, through security, and getting on airplanes.

So I made it to the station about 7:00 yesterday, 1 1/2 hours before the train left. The station was the main station for the bullet train from Shanghai. The station was gigantic, was mobbed, and dwarfs Grand Central Terminal. All of Shanghai dwarfs New York. Shanghai has 3 times the population, and the metro is the largest in the world. 90_IMG_2771.jpg

The 6 hour rail trip was pretty relaxing. The train sped past quite a few cities, with high rise housing under construction. The train made a few stops. One stop was in a town called Zhengzou. I don't think I have heard of it previously-but upon looking it up it has a population of close to 10 million. The city had a modern bullet train station.

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The train also passed by country fields, pagodas, farms, before reaching Xi'an about 3:30 pm. At Xi'an, I was able to take the metro a few stops, and find the hostel. (Yes Xi'an has a metro)

The cheap sandals I bought in Hong Kong already broke, I lost a sneaker my sweatshirt-so I wasn't in a good position, particularly since it was cold and rainy out. It was already close to 4:00, and rather then go sightseeing, I decided to go shopping. The guy at the front desk said H&M wasn't too far away, so I walked, past building and a beautiful bell tower, towards that area, which featured lots of shops. I felt like having pizza for a change, so I had an early dinner at Pizza Hut-a durian flavored pizza which was ok. I looked at a map provided by the hostel-a lot of stores and points of interest we're outlined. One I had to look twice, and see if I read it right. It said "Wal Mart". I thought this can't be the Wal Mart I was familiar with-of country western songs, emails poking fun at their customers, and always low prices, but I walked to the point on the map-and sure enough-it was Wal Mart. Even compared to Wal Mart's I was familiar with-it was pretty dingy, but I was able to get some toothpaste, detergent, mandarins, and other stuff. Like Wal Mart, check-out was pretty slow.

Across from Wal-Mart was a giant shoe store, selling cheap shoes at prices with a guy with a megaphone out front attracting people to great deals-(I was able to pick up cheap slippers for around 50 cents). I got some new sandals, sneakers and the new slippers all for around $10.00.

On the way back, I did find H&M, and bought a new sweater for around $10.00. it was still cold and dark, so I found the way back to the hostel.

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:30 Archived in China Comments (0)

Shanghaing Around with Magic Squrrels and a Male Masseuse

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Today was my last day in Shanghai. I didn't have any specific plans, except to "Fill in the blanks", with stuff I haven't done before.

- First of all, I went to the Shanghai Urban Planning Museum, which wasn't particularly interesting. There was a scale model of Shanghai today, which was actually pretty cool. Otherwise, the museum showed some future plans, and also some pictures of old Shanghai, and old buildings, but it wasn't that great. There was a whole bunch of uniformed officers in the museum looking at the exhibits, and that was distracting.IMG_2638.jpgIMG_2635.jpg

- I took a walk around the French Concession, which was a part of Shanghai that was signed over to the French, after China lost the opium wars. I did a self-guided walking tour from Lonely Planet, which was ok. It showcased an old church, different houses, and a nice hotel. It was a nice tour down shaded streets. The highlight was some old mansions which we're turned into shops-I had a coffee and croissant at a Costa Coffee.
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- I then followed some other recommendations in the Lonely Planet. One was for a bird and cricket market. The crickets we're kept in tiny containers-and they we're unable to move-but you can hear them chirp. Their we're many little birds as well, and lots of animals of other types, all in cages. I saw tiny turtles, the tiniest i have ever seen. i guess they we're used for racing or something, because their shells we're painted. I saw dozens/or hundreds of little rodents in fishtank-like enclosures. I am not sure if they we're small rats/mice/gerbils or hamsters. There we're also animals I have never seen. I saw three small animals clawing and moving rapidly in a small cage. I had no idea if they we're baby rabbits, but thought they we're because of their ears. I learned later these we're magic squirrels, which I have never heard of. There we're three of them competing for space. There we're bunnies and worms. A large number of small animals competing for space in tiny cages-it was somewhat sad but also fascinating.
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- Then I walked a few blocks over for the Confucian Temple, which was pretty. I took a break here and sat down. The temple was similar to the Buddhist temple. I have heard that the Confucius predates the Buddhists in China. It was a relaxing place.
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Today, the weather which was already cooler than the previous days, turned colder and windy. I walked along towards the riverfront and to the pedestrian mall. Along the way, I grabbed a cheap dinner of noodles and steamed fish. Before returning to the hostel, I got a cheap foot massage from a male masseuse. I was hesitant about having a man massage my feet, but he had me put my feet in boiling hot water with apple peels (or something like that), and he rubbed them. It was pretty good.
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Posted by DavidPearlman 06:45 Archived in China Comments (0)

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