Xi’an – Day 1, Part 1

This post is long.
The day did not start well.  Almost instantly we were fighting with our guide about how the day should go.  First cut, Victor says we’ll spend a couple of hours looking at the city walls and the Wild Goose Pagoda.  Then go back to the hotel to wait for the Tang Dynasty Show at 2030.  Terra Cotta Warriors tomorrow.
Not very likely.  We want to see the Great Mosque and because tomorrow is Saturday, we want to make sure it will be open to visitors.  This took a lot of convincing, but finally he called his agency and confirmed that the mosque would be open both days.  We want to go today.
We saw the great city wall of Xi’an.  Impressive indeed.  Built over 600 years ago, the walls still encircle the inner city in an unbroken face  14+ kilometers long.  The wall top is a huge promenade, well over 50 feet wide, sporting parapets and battlements and niches for shooting arrows out of.
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But we also got treated to the Feng Shui shopping spiel almost as soon as we entered the place.  Most of the shopping pitches are actually good and informative, but they take away time we could be using to do other things, and 3 weeks into this trip we’re not interested.  PERIOD.
At the next stop Wild Goose Pagoda we almost instantly received the strong arm to visit a pottery factory on the way to the Warriors tomorrow. No pottery factory!!  And we continue to get an argument.  I end up being Chinese and yelling at him.  Sometimes in China the one who talks loudest wins.  And he should defer to me anyway.  He’s 21.  I’m old enough to be his grandmother.
But the stately pagoda and its accompanying temple and monastery are calming and pleasant.
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I was able to purchase some incense for Katharine.  Victor, bless his heart,  came running over to make sure I didn’t pay too much.
Then we discovered the peony garden.  Although many of the blooms were already fading, the fragrance was intoxicating and the flowers lovely.
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Here, we told Victor we wanted to visit the mosque TODAY and that we wanted to find a restaurant for lunch near there.  He worried about eating in a small place “might not be clean enough,” and that we “might not like the food,” and tried to get us to eat at the hotel.  Ugh!  Anything to get us back to the hotel.  We stood our ground and he took us to the Muslim quarter.  See Xi’an – Day 1, Part 2.
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