Saturday, June 14, 2008

China Day 15: Good Morning, Xi'an!

Last night we caught a plane to Xi'an, capital of China during the Qin Dynasty, in the 200s BC. This was the first time China had a strong central government with a single emperor at its head (notwithstanding the fact that Qin Shi Huang Di was a bloodthirsty autocrat who went off his rocker in his later years due to his obsessive search for the elixir of immortality and the ingestion of a lot of toxic chemicals in that quest). During its years as the Imperial Capital, the city was known as Chang An, or "Great Peace".

Our flight was not too eventful, though we had a lot of turbulence - I didn't realize, but there are some mondo huge mountains between Chongqing and Xi'an! Going over them was a bit bumpy. During our descent, we looked out the window and saw huge burial mounds
built up over imperial tombs. We also saw one of my favorite airport signs when we arrived here:
I feel that "The Waiting Hall of Connecting Flights" ranks right up there with "The Palace of Gathered Elegance" or the "Five Summits Reading Hut" (one of the buildings at the Garden of the Master of the Nets) for elegance!

On the bus into town we met our local guide, Mark,
who is an old college buddy of our own Fred - Xi'an is his hometown. He seems like a nice fella! They took us straight to our hotel where we luxuriated in rooms which seemed VAST after the boat cabins! Dad is also happy to be back in a full-length bed; the bunks on the boat were a little short for him, plus the room attendants tucked the sheets in so tight that he couldn't get his feet all the way down to the bottom! (I'm short enough that I had no problem.)

This hotel is built around a 16-floor interior light well
that made me dizzy just to get near.

They also gave us something I hadn't seen yet at any of our hotels: a little package of laundry detergent among the toothbrushes and shower caps. This was very practical, and I took the opportunity to wash out some things!

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