We’re now at the second major destination of our trip: Xi’an – the cultural capital of China. While it is located quite far inland, away from all the major coastal cities, it contains a significant chunk of China’s historical sites and artifacts – Xi’an was actually the imperial capital of China for 13 dynasties, Beijing wasn’t the capital until much later.
All quiet on the morning of arrival.
Rain. It was raining when we arrived, which is more unusual in Xi’an because the city is located on the edge of the Gobi Desert. The climate here is typically dry and dusty. Now rain doesn’t seem to deter the crowds of China, rather they just whip out crowds of umbrellas.
One thing I noticed here is that the taxi’s all have cages built into them. We asked a driver once, and he told us that this is a measure implemented for their safety. Apparently, some taxi customers can get quite belligerent. Hmm.
George! It’s good to see you again. Everyone, George is alive and well. Here he’s even sporting a nice Chinese hairdo and the obligatory sino-spirit-fingers.
The next day we made a trip out to see perhaps one of the most world-renown cultural artifacts of China, the Terracotta Warriors. They were built by the first emperor of China, Qin Huangdi. He is the powerful man credited with conquering and consolidating all the various warring factions into one unified Chinese empire, for the first time. However, he faced the looming prospect of death, just as any other man, and sought to secure his eternal position of power by building himself an army of warriors to accompany him into the afterlife. That is what you see here. Incredible.
We made some new friends that day. Actually, we made hundreds of new friends that day.
I bet this dude never counted on having to face Johncai in his afterlife.
Johncai and brother John (yes same name). He’s been koinonia-ing with us during our visit to Xi’an.
For lunch, George brought us to eat some really distinctive Xi’an style food. This is a kind of flattened, packed bread that you break into little pieces with your fingers, and then pour it into a bowl along with lamb broth. The food of this region is influenced by the Muslim Chinese desert peoples. Quite delicious.
In contrast, there’s KFC – an American chain that is wildly popular all over China. There are some slight differences between KFC here and back in the states. First of all, KFC is higher class here. It’s relatively expensive and people consider it a real treat, to the point where it is a popular destination for first dates. Customer service here (and generally in all China) is much better than in the states. As pictured here, employees are literally drilled in providing quality customer service (however, it looks like one girl forgot her uniform, haha). George says that employees of most chain stores have to meet for store rallies on some mornings, to reiterate store values and what not. Interesting huh?
Much more coming soon. There’s another general Xi’an post with reports from more places we visited. Additionally, we’re preparing at this moment to leave for an intense hike up Huashan, the steepest mountain hike in China. The trip takes five hours and we’re going to start at around 10pm with the intent of hiking overnight. People like to get up there in the evening when its cooler, and then enjoy the beauty of sunrise. Johncai and I are hopefully in good enough shape to make this hike without problem. You know, we’re strapping young men after all. 😛