Today was our first full day in Xi’an and it was packed with things. First, we went to the children’s village. The children’s village was home to fifty-five kids who had parents that were incarcerated. The goal is to provide a home for kids that either are forced to live on the street or are taken care of by ill grandparents. The village was very nice and in good condition. While we couldn’t exactly talk to the kids, we played soccer and basketball with them and gave them Hershey kisses. We also played ping-pong with them and also against each other. Previously, Dr. Li had challenged us all to play him and try to beat him. After playing a few games I was feeling pretty confident, so I challenged him and beat him. Honestly, I think he may be better than me, but I quit while I was ahead.
After ping-pong we ate lunch in the villages dining hall. Following lunch, we had to perform for the kids, so we decided to do the baby shark song. That was interesting, but they clapped even though they had no clue what we were saying. We took a group picture with the kids and then it was time to leave.
Our next visit was to the Wild Goose Pagoda. The Wild Goose Pagoda is a Buddhist temple. It was the tallest building in Xi’an until 1980. The temple followed the typical, traditional Chinese architect.
After we walked around for a few minutes, Kevin showed us the 14 Chinese astrological signs; these rotate once every fourteen years. I was born in 2000 which is the year of the dragon. The dragon is the most powerful symbol in Chinese tradition. After seeing these, we went into an art studio where a calligrapher showed us Chinese writing. After a brief presentation, we were able to shop. He wrote my name in Chinese on a sheet of rice paper and also “fortune” on another piece, for me. According to Liliana, when “fortune” is hung upside down, it shares a pronunciation with another mandarin word that means “to arrive”. So when “fortune” is hung upside down, it means fortune has arrived. I also bought a painting depicting the spring season.
After this, we went back to the hotel. Tonight, we went to the Muslim quarter. We were there last night, but we just walked through and didn’t shop. The Muslim quarter can only be described as absolute chaos. The sidewalks are covered with vendors selling mostly food, but also little, touristy items. Since the sidewalks are covered, you have to walk in the street. The only problem with this is that the street is home to crazy scooter/rickshaw drivers and the occasional car. It was fun walking and looking at all of the stores while dodging scooters. Unsurprisingly, we passed a little accident that involved four scooters and a rickshaw, but it didn’t look serious at all.
Also, side note, someone didn’t tell the Chinese that not all translations are accurate or even exist. One store was called, “Cat Uncle Explosion Cheese Durian Pie”. I know, appetizing, right?! I don’t know which would taste better, a cat, maybe cheese, but probably my uncle.
After making it through the massive crowds of pedestrians and scooters, we finally made it to the shopping mall that sells fake apparel. Bargaining is a part of shopping in this mall, and I was all for it. I bought most of my souvenirs here because there was also nice things besides the fake things. My favorite bargain was a fake Louis Vuitton belt that started at 220 yuan, but Jake and I bought it for forty yuan. I bought a fake Louis Vuitton belt and a fake Supreme fanny pack for a total of $13 USD. After shopping for nearly two hours, we headed back to the hotel. Once again, we had to walk through the streets. I am thankful I will never have to do that again, but it was definitely worth it.