June 4

10:09 AM


            I am waiting to leave for Xi’an.  This morning I got up early again and walked to a park where many people (around 25), mostly seniors, we doing Tai Ch’i.  I also saw older folks who had brought their birds out.  Birds are popular pets for old folks.  Every morning, they bring their birds to the park.  The owners talk to each other and the birds talk to each other.

            Later I went to the hotel business center and sent an e-mail back home.  Internet access was 1 yuan per minute [pretty expensive, actually].  I also had a nice conversation with the woman who worked there.  She knew about as much English as I know Chinese; we practiced on each other.  She asked me to write to her.  [Her name was Wang Chen Wei, and I *have* written to her.]


10:54 PM


            I am now in Xi’an.  This city was China’s first capital (then called “Chang an”, meaning “forever peaceful”) and is near China’s geographical center.  Today, it is very polluted.  There is a noticeable odor outside, the visibility is low, and the sky is white. Creatures on this planet have evolved over billions of years looking at a BLUE sky, so it’s very strange looking.

            We had a dinner reception hosted by Wan Ding (the Chinese artist).  He gave us each a bag containing some nice gifts.  Marta had a cake.  She turned 11 on the 3rd.

            The bed in our hotel here is extremely hard.  (Chinese prefer hard beds.)


            Note: June 4th is the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.  It’s closed to the public today.




June 5

1:40 PM


            Today we went to a Confucian temple which had many stone tablets covered in calligraphy of different styles.  The merchants in the gift store were quite aggressive.  The women selling scarves and fans followed me around trying to convince me to buy.  I noticed they offered me better prices than the white folks.  I bought a scarf.

            We also saw the Xi’an city wall.  It was quite well-preserved, though present day Xi’an extends beyond the wall.


A gate at the temple

Writing on stone tablets

Atop the city wall

The view from the wall