Monday, March 2, 2009

Farewell Xi'an

We’ve just returned from the farewell banquet hosted by the Head of School, Mr. Liu, and all are (hopefully) busily packing for our return to the States. What a last day it was. We began with a trip to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, built in the 7th Century AD to house Buddhist scriptures brought from India by a Tang monk, by way of the Silk Road. All made it to the top of the Pagoda, including those a bit squeamish about heights, and at least one Gouldie was heard to say “I’m thinking about becoming a Buddhist.”

From the Pagoda it was off to lunch and then a trip to the Ming Dynasty City Wall. Although the Ming established their capital in Beijing, Xi’an was still seen as an important city. In its heyday it was the largest city in the world, bigger even than Rome at its peak. The wall is intact, having been rebuilt many times through the ages, and has a total circumference of over 8 miles. We know because we road bicycles around the entire distance, taking in Xi’an from a very different perspective. After a successful circuit the kids hit the ice cream stand on the top of the wall while waiting for those of us who were a little slower to finish. It was a well deserved treat.

There was still time for a bit more shopping so we headed for the Muslim market street behind the Drum Tower. While some looked for last minute bargains, others had their names done in Chinese characters. The prize of the day has to go to Damian and Evan who somehow managed to get massages while the rest of us were in the market. After witnessing their efforts together on a tandem bicycle it is no wonder they were in need of massages.

We returned to school for another round of English corner and then it was off to the farewell banquet. We each sat with our Chinese hosts and by the laughter coming from the students’ tables stories of the week were being shared by all. What an experience.

We look forward to returning the hospitality in the fall when a group from Xi’an Foreign Language School heads to Maine and we would all like to thank our host one last time for treating us like family. So from Pete, Molly, Kristian, James, Eliana, Ellie, Evan, Jesse, Whitney, Jaimey, Damian and the Whittingtons: Xie Xie Xi’an.

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