Day 5: Welcome to Xi’an

We started our first morning in Xi’an with our first breakfast at the new hotel. Overall, the choices were pretty similar and tasted just as good as breakfast in Beijing. After I finished my eggs, rice, and dumplings, we took an hour bus ride out of the city and up the mountains. While driving, we passed a ton of farms that mostly produce cherries. It was definitely different to see hundreds of cherry stands all right next to each other selling the same exact thing.

Eventually, we arrived at the Children’s Village. We started this visit with a summary and video about what the Children’s Village is. The Children’s village houses and schools about 50 kids whose parents are incarcerated. The establishment was founded in 1996 by a police officer who constantly noticed children struggling after they lost their parents to jail. At points, the children are as young as 5 and trying to survive by themselves. Watching the video and seeing young children and their parents cry when they finally unite was very heartwarming and emotional. 

After learning about the village, we played some basketball and ping pong with the kids. We taught them the game knock out and it was very evident that they enjoyed playing it. Although we knew a little more about basketball then they did, they returned the favor by teaching us some lessons in Ping Pong. They had five-year olds absolutely destroying our best players. However, this really should not have come to a surprise to us considering the fact that China has won 28 of the 32 gold medals over the history of the Olympic games. One thing I have noticed since being here is how much this sport is a part of the Chinese culture. They have ping pong tables outside most of their schools where kids clearly start playing at an early age. After we finished playing ping pong, we went in and ate with the kids before taking some pictures and departing. 

The next stop we made today was the Wild Goose Pagoda. During this visit, I learned all about Buddhism. It turns out the Chinese Buddhist is portrayed as a fat childish looking figure who is always laughing. His porky body figure is based on the fact that he is never mean. Instead, he keeps his anger in his stomach and ends up digesting it and pooping it out. He is always laughing as a sign of being amused by people who do not honor Buddhism. The Buddhist is also a vegan who refrains from any type of sex or money. The pagoda itself was the tallest building in the city of Xi’an from the year 652-1980. For anyone who has ever been to this city in the past 40 years, they would realize how crazy this fact is. Xi’an is made up of thousands of high rises much taller than the 22-story Pagoda. This attests to how much change China and particularly Xi’an has had in the last 40 years. They are still a developing country in many aspects, but their construction is definitely one of the best in the world. 

After we walked around the Pagoda, we went into a small building where we learned about calligraphy. All of the paper used to write is made from bamboo. A fun fact we learned was the Chinese language has thousands of characters, but only about 20% of these characters are relevant. 

Following this class, we went back to the hotel for about a 30-minute break before we walked to dinner. After dinner, we walked to the cheap bartering shop. The walk itself was a unique experience as the roads were all extremely narrow with thousands of small food shops. This truly was as chaotic as the things you see in movies. Tomorrow brings a new day filled with a visit to the Terra Cotta Warriors, a place I have studied from a young age.

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