Saturday, October 18, 2008

Train from Xi'an

The overnight train was not at all bad....not entirely comfy but certainly better than a plane. The four of us (Zinta, Julie, Roxanne and me) were bunked together. Julie and I were on the top bunks (if you can believe it.) The childhood practice on the monkey bars was an invaluable aid.

We arrived in Beijing at 6:20 a.m. and were whisked onto a bus and off to breakfast. Thank goodness for my beloved caffeine. We visited Tiannamen Square and the Forbidden City after breakfast. We were ready for a break after the crowds and a particularly tight fit in a passageway (think camel through the eye of a needle) with lots of pushing and shoving.

We checked into the hotel later that afternoon and went for a 20 dumpling dinner and a performance of Tang dancers and musicians. The dumplings and the entertainment were equally delightful. I developed a fancy for a walnut dumpling that reminded me of kalockies (the great Christmas cookie production number.)

Yesterday we went to the Great Wall (some of us climbed farther than others) and the Summer Palace. Today, I've opted to hang out a little before our very long and very daunting flight. We will be home soon!

By the way, Jim has been posting regularly as well. His posts are in the comments section of his initial post. He is quite the adventurer--I'd check them out.

Swimming fish into dragon

An old folk tale of a swimming fish transfoming into a dragon is the central theme of Xi'an International University. There is a large sculpture on the cental campus depicting the ideal of education empowering the lives of students. I think that most of us were very interested in what our Chinese colleagues had to say. I must say that I am very, very thankful for our resources and facilities. There is no comparison.

I was able to visit the Provincal Public Library with my two young companions and found that they used the same Sirsi operating system I use at the Plainfield Public Library. I have to say that the public library seemed far better supplied than the university library. From what I can gather, they don't lend to each other. After the campus tour we packed up for the train.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Yesterday and Today

As you are watching the debate this evening we will be meeting with our counterparts at the university (in the morning.) Eileen wasn't able to get to the panda preserve but she did see a zoo on the outskirts of Xi'an and the mountains. The terra cotta warriors were very impressive but even more impressive was the massive shopping/hotel/dining complex that greets you as you leave...more about the gauntlet of beggars, hawkers, and shopkeepers later. We will be taking a the train to Beijing at about 4:00 p.m. and should arrive 6:00 a.m. Jim is blogging with some great stories in his comments section so be sure to check there for more detail. Tomorrow the Great Wall ...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Off to see the Terra Cotta armies

We arrived in Xi'an without incident and I promptly lost my glasses...typical. I was able to purchase a new pair within an hour yesterday for a mere $150.00. We visited the city walls of Xi'an (very lovely) and Big Goose Pagoda yesterday (equally lovely and the temple was sooo very restful) and some of us went on to Xi'an International Studies University and I got a very brief tour of their new library. It is huge! We went out to dinner with some of the faculty and adminstrators and talked a bit about exchange programs. Today is quite the long day with two tours a visit to the Muslim Market, a dance recital tonight. I am very sure that I will sleep well this evening. I am, not suprisingly, an object of interest....but I'm not the only one. Roxanne (of the red hair) is a source of fascination as well. We decided that we should start charging money for all the photos that people want to take with us...maybe finance another trip.

Talk to you soon.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

We Have Arrived!

Our guide George says that if you want to know about China for the last 100 years come to Shanghai. After along flight north (over the artic) we arrived in good spirits but more than a little tired. We went on a river cruise and saw the very neon-highlighted riverfront of the city. Soft pop music was the soundtrack for the cruise--very disconcerting. Our hotel is quite lovely and we are off on a garden tour and a visit to the market today.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Less than 24 hours

I tried to pack last night and each time I put something into the suitcase I took out something and that circle continued for two hours. I took all of stuff out and tried to put only 1/2 of it back. I stopped when I could not decide what 1/2 would stay at home and what half would go. ALl of that will be academic at 5 tomorrow morning when that suitcase heads to the car.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


To all of the friends of participants. It took only a few moments to move me into another century. I hope this will be successful and I am going to write to it each day. This is a once in a life time opportunity. I hope you are going to enjoy receiving this as much as I am going to be sending it to you.