The Educated Haggler

Day 7:

Today started out a little hectic, my new roommates phone was vibrating a lot last night, so when I finally had enough of it I got up and set it to do not disturb. Since we do so much in a day though I was able to go right back to bed and slept like a baby the rest of the night. The day then began at 7:30 when I got up for breakfast. The breakfast at the Grand Dynasty Culture hotel is very good. The only thing it lacks is dragon fruit. I really love dragon fruit. Following breakfast, we made our way to Sun Village. This is a place that takes children whose parents have been arrested. If the children are not rescued by this village they will most likely be put out onto the street to fend for themselves. The children live in little dorms with 16 kids per dorm. 8 kids share 4 sets of bunk beds. It is a nonprofit organization that lives solely on donations from outsiders. The kids are responsible for their own maintenance. Surprisingly everything was very clean. When we had free time, we went to play sports with the kids. At first, we were to play basketball but 3 of us including myself played basketball in high school. They saw the 3 of us dribbling between our legs and hitting threes and they instantly did not want to play anymore. Instead they wanted to play ping pong. I swear to god we saw this little 12-year-old boy was the best ping pong player I have ever met. In the end it was a valuable experience to meet kids with unlucky backgrounds and still see how positive they had been.
Upon leaving the village we went to the Great Wild Goose Pagoda. This is a famous Buddha temple in Xi’an. We learned about the Buddha and how Chinese Buddhist religion came to be. Xuan Zhuang rode from China to India and spent 17 years there studying and learning the Buddhist language. After the 17 years he returned and brought Buddhist scripture back with him. He then translated the writing into Chinese scripture and spread the word. The Chinese changed up Buddhist culture making there 6 stages of life instead of the original 3 that the Indian people had. Some of the stages have complicated names so I cannot remember them, but just know that we are all in the human stage. We did not get to see into the temple but from the outside it is beautiful. The courtyard of the temple is cluttered with tombs of past Buddhas. Overall it very pretty. The last we did in the Pagoda was learned some Chinese script. We learned how to write Xi’an and discovered that it means long peace. Some people bought stuff there, but I think that most of the stuff was overpriced. I saw some of the stuff in Beijing for much cheaper.
For dinner, we went to a restaurant and were hosted by Dr. Li himself. He taught us about Chinese meals, and the traditions behind them. For example, hosts and guests are both more courteous in Chinese culture meals than in America. Chinese hosts constantly ask their guests if they are okay with everything, and they make sure to cook enough food so that there are leftovers. Guests on the other hand make it their goal to eat all the food provided to not show any disgrace towards the food. It was a very good meal, and a various donation by our host and professor.
Even though that one particular shop inside the Pagoda park was expensive the rest of Xi’an is not. Tonight, we explored the Muslim quarters again, but this time we actually bought souvenirs. Bargaining was hard since we don’t speak mandarin, and we are tourist, so they know that we are coming to Xi’an with money. I was able to talk some people down slightly, but since most of the shops have comparable items they tend to have pretty set prices. Whatever talking down I was able to achieve, I must give most of the credit to my sidekick Jane who was ruthless in fighting all of the stubborn locals.  Oh well, I will probably only get to be in Xi’an once, so I need to buy while I still can.

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