June 14

8:35 PM


            Today all we did was fly from Urumqi to Xi’an.  We are in the same hotel as before.

            I will try to go to an Internet café soon and maybe buy a phone card also.  [The Internet café was closed (permanently) and the phone card vendors didn’t know what we were asking for – they didn’t know how to do business.]




June 15

2:48 PM


            This morning I sent another e-mail home.  I tried to phone also, but no one was home.

            Shortly after, we went to see Emperor Qin’s army of terra cotta warriors.  It was very impressive, and there were many more warriors than I thought – hundreds or thousands, in several different pits.  Each has a different face.  They bear no emotion – reflecting Mencius’ statement that “the state [was] soulless.”  There are warriors, generals, and horses.  Photos here were not allowed but I and others took them anyway.


Terra cotta army


It was dark, and hard to get a good close-up.


            Our guide here is Alexandra.  She hasn’t spoken much, though her English is good.  She’s new at this.  [She turned out to be a horrible guide.  All she seemed to do was dress pretty.  I'll give her slack, though, because she was new.]

            By the way, since our first stop in Xi’an, we have been accompanied by Mr. Fan, a government agent for some foreign affairs agency.  At first I thought he’d be a prick with a uniform, but he’s a nice, normal guy (wears normal clothes, too).  He is not with us so much to keep us out of trouble, but to make sure the security at airports and etc. don’t give us trouble.  He and Wan Ding are friends.



            I suppose I should take this time to write about the eastern-style toilets.  They’re squat toilets.  In our hotels and other new areas, toilets are western, but everywhere else they’re squatters, and most of them are not flush-toilets.  Basically, you have to squat over a hole in the ground.  The cleanliness at these varies wildly, from better-than-U.S. to really shitty (pardon the pun).  Signs marking a toilet often say “W.C.”, from the British term “water closet.”

            If you are called in your hotel room by a woman offering you a “special massage,” it’s not a massage.

            The prices on almost any goods or services in China are negotiable.  You should never pay the sticker price.  If you like something, offer to pay no more than half on your first offer, and work from there.


            These observations I learned very early in my trip, and I’ve been taking them for granted, so I am just now writing them down.


10:04 PM


            In the afternoon we went to a museum of relics.  Mostly pottery, a few weapons.  Not very interesting because our guide was not effective (we got no explanations of anything we saw).

            For dinner we ate Japanese food.  I didn’t like it.  I entertained myself with my bowl of “soup.”  It had some particulate matter that sort-of-but-not-really dissolved when you stirred it.  After stirring it and then letting it sit for a while it would reform into a ball in the center.

            I finally got caught up on my Chinese homework.

            Today was the first day we saw rain in China (at Qin’s warriors).




June 16 

5:08 PM


            This morning we went to the remains of Banpo Village, which was a thriving community about 6000 years ago.  It was a matriarchal society.  (John said that makes it just like today’s.)

            In the afternoon we visited (another) Buddhist temple.


A golden Buddha


            Then we went to the Wild Goose Pagoda. It is seven stories tall and is now slightly leaning.  We climbed to the top.


The Wild Goose Pagoda

Looking down from the top of the Wild Goose Pagoda


            I am starting to miss some things about home.  I wish I could call or e-mail more easily.

            For dinner we will be eating nothing but jiao zi (dumplings).  [We had over 20 varieties.]


11:06 PM


            Tomorrow we will go to Hukou, which is 500 km from Xi’an, 4 hours by bus.  I’ll probably have a Chinese lesson on the bus.  We will stay in Hukou overnight.



            At most restaurants, vegetables are fresh, brought in daily.  You can also pick your seafood out of an aquarium on-site.