Xi'an page 1 of Carter's China Trip
Saturday, two weeks into the trip, we loaded up for our post conference tour
to Xi’an and Guilin. Our bus
zipped out of town on a toll road to the rather nice airport.
We boarded a China Air Boeing 777.
I sat one seat away from the window and tried to catch glances over my
neighbor’s shoulder. He was a
Chinese businessman. He asked if
I wanted to sit by the window. He
said it didn’t matter where he sat so we changed seats.
Most of my colleagues on the flight did not get to see out the windows.
his should I saw a piece of the Great Wall as we were rising out of Beijing.
I was never able to find it again.
As we flew SW we passed over some rugged mountains and some very dry
areas. As we approached Xi’an I
saw a great number of villages very close to each other.
There was not much farmland between these settlements so you know the
land is used intensively. This is
where so much of the billion plus population lives.
this flight if you didn’t sit by the window you could still see what was
going on because they had a camera in the front of the plane looking down. Much of the time the monitors in the plane showed what the
camera was seeing. We got to see
the plane taking off and landing from the perspective at the nose of the
plane. I had never seen this
before but I liked it. This was
very effective in showing the landscape where it was cloud free.
Of course when the camera was displayed we couldn’t watch a movie,
but so what? But again, I am a
geographer and I prefer looking at nature over movies most of the time.
flight were the colleagues who were taking the post-conference tour to Lhasa,
Tibet. Together we flew to
Xi’an and had lunch together. Then
we got on separate buses but headed to the same hotel.
We saw them in passing in the lobby as we went from one tour to
another. They did things quicker
than we and they headed out for Lhasa while we spent more time in Xi’an.
Surprisingly, there were far more persons going to Tibet than taking
our tour, although the Tibet tour was more expensive.
in our luggage became a great problem, as did the weight of our luggage.
One of the problems is that we were told that things are quite
primitive in China. We were
advised to take toilet paper and many other basics.
I took a small roll of toilet paper and tore off many sheets and
carried them in my pocket. One
colleague brought four rolls of toilet paper and was still carrying them as he
headed off to Lhasa. Yea, there
were places where you needed your own toilet paper but most places were very
a good breakfast at the buffet in our hotel before we left. We had a good snack on the plane, consisting of a roll and
cheese, a noodle dish and meat. When
we got to Xi’an they took us to a restaurant and we ate again.
Three meals by early afternoon. And,
I thought I would loose weight on this trip.
Ha! There may be a lot of starving kids in China but they made
certain we would not starve. At
times I was embarrassed by how much we were fed, but still I kept eating.
tour guide in Xi’an was John. As
we drove in from the airport he pointed out the large conical mounds of dirt
off the in the distance. These
are all mausoleums of past rulers. Xi’an
served for many centuries as the capital or center of Chinese culture and
therefore this is a great area for history.
This is the least humid place we visited.
It reminded me of Albuquerque, New Mexico, in terms of aridity.
It was certainly a comfortable place.
is known for its loess soils. Loess
is a soil made up of wind-blown material that locks together to cohere.
As such, in areas of deep loess you can have vertical faces of soil
that do not fall down. Geography
textbooks usually include a photo of a homes in China carved into a loess
wall. In the Xi’an area we saw
many places where holes had been carved into walls of loess.
John noted that as people have become more wealthy they have added a
more conventional structure in front of the hole in the loess and now live in
both the loess house and the structure in front.
We saw a number of such structures along the bluffs of the river as we
came into town. I should note
that in central Illinois loess soils are common but they are not very deep and
no one lives in soil houses.
is known for its massive
city wall from the past. Soon
our bus passed through the wall and stopped in a courtyard.
We were at the north gate. We
got to explore this area and visit the shops in what were probably barracks
centuries before. We got to the
top of the wall and look down on the city, now extending off in all
directions. Surrounding the walls on the outside is a moat, still filled
|View from atop the Wall looking along
the moat on the outside. This area is well landscaped and well
|Later we passed by the wall at night and saw that they have lights strung along the top of the wall outlining the pattern – I was impressed.||