Today was our first day in Xi’an! Yesterday we met our new tour guide Kevin and our program coordinator Liliana when we got off the bullet train. The bullet train had amazing views of smaller cities and huge mountains. So far Xi’an is more like what I expected Chinese cities to be like before I came here. It is more of a traditional looking city with red lanterns along the sides of the roads and lots of markets and street food. we were told not to eat the street food though especially anything on a stick because they reuse the sticks after people eat of them and throw them out.
The first thing we did today was go to the Sun Village outside of the city. Sun village is a place for kids whose parents are in prison and have nobody to care for them. They have nine locations across China and have helped thousands of kids. We brought them some donations and chocolate kisses to hand out. Some of the kids filled every pocket had with chocolate. We also performed baby shark for the kids, and it was a complete fail. They were all either confused or laughing at us and when we asked if they wanted us to teach it to them, they said no. Then we got a tour of the whole village and saw where they eat, sleep, and play sports. We played soccer and basketball and taught them how to play knockout which they loved. They ended up being better at it than us. We also had rice and cabbage and tofu for lunch in their dining hall.
Then we went to the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda which is a Buddhist pagoda. The story that gave it its name is that one day the monks had no meat, and then a goose flying overhead lost its wings and fell to the ground for them to eat. Inside the structures there are Buddhist statues that people were praying to. We also had a calligraphy class at the wide goose pagoda where we learned about the Chinese strokes and characters. They also had pretty paintings for us to buy which a lot of us did for our moms.
For dinner we went to a restaurant that was only a short walk from our hotel. We tried Chinese burgers which is Xian’s most popular local food. I think what we were looking forward to most today was going back to the market to buy some fake brands. I spent more money at the market than I’ve spent on this entire trip so far and we were all there for hours. I was kind of nervous about having to bargain here but its actually kind of fun. the walk to the market was not too fun though. The streets were so busy with street vendors and cars and bikes and people walking. It was very hectic trying to find our way back to the hotel through all of it. I definitely almost got hit by a couple cars.