Monday, December 08, 2008

Day 5 - Xian, 9 November 2006

As a group we headed out of the south gate and along the wall of the city. Being in the lead, I came across a group of musicians sitting and chatting in a pagoda. As I started taking photos, they came to an agreement and started setting up. They soon launched into a folk tune and this attracted all the others. There were a few other groups further along the wall. Always older people. There were not very many people in the park at this time.

bamboo pipes

city wallchinese musicmusiciansplaying in the parkmusic group

We then headed back into Xian via the south gate, to the calligraphy market. By this time I had split off from most of the rest of the group and at the end of the market I headed off on my own. This part of town is still quite touristy.


fishchild on a tricyclestatuecalligraphy shoppagoda

I wound my way along the inside of the east wall, and up to the east gate. As I passed a hair dresser's I caused quite a stir with my long, unkept hair. I should have stopped for a hair cut.

tricycle cartage


Passing out through the gate, I wandered through the back streets. I was impressed again to see how far china has come. I saw my first cement truck in China. I remembered many years ago, watching a road be built in Le Shan in Sze Chuan province. There must have been at least 100 men. There were men shovelling the sand, screening and concrete into little mixers, much smaller than the one on a concrete truck. More men, took this away in wheel barrows, while others used trowels to put the concrete onto the road. The white lines were hand layed tiles. It was amazingly labour intensive.

cement mixer

I was now in the real china. I walked a block too far to the north. Here I came across a school, with the children just heading off home. So I was quickly adopted by a few groups of school children. I was very impressed with their english and we played the game of you ask me a question in my language, and I will reply in yours. This is a game that is impossible to play in Australia as children are taught that all strangers are a safety risk.

leaving school

showing offplaying a gameschool boysSchool Childrenschool kids

As I travelled along, I get several positive responses from the adults. Eventually they got a child to ask where I was going. I explained that I was headed to the 8 immortals temple. The child seemed genuinely disappointed. I explained that I was going there to take photos. I did not say that my guide book said that it was the last remaining temple of it's type in China. Though I do not believe this claim. By now the older boys were in on the act and they arranged for one of them to take me to the temple. I had gone a little to far and needed to back track about 150 meters to the temple.

The temple had the usual shopping area opposite with religious items but internally was quite empty and had only minimal upkeep.


entrancehistorical accountcorridortemple doorarch bridgemoon doorrooffront gatestoryurn

Heading back into town, I came across some Chinese playing mahjohng. The old man is delighted and the woman is trying to hide. At the wall there were also some people playing pool.

mahjong players

moatmoatcity wallwallclothes line

Back inside the city, I find this advertisement and have to take a photo and laugh.

"Kermit John"

Kermit John was born in Canberra Australia and 1788 depending on his good sense.
Kermit contracted to explore gold mines. After several years of persistence and hard work, he quickly became the leading gold maker in Australia. Kermit John's motto is premium quality derives from pursuing details. To show respect for his achievements later, people called his as "gold earl".

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

internet filtering

this one is a bit out of order, and I have not been good at finishing the detailed blogs, I have not forgotten, I will get back here to complete the task.

When I was in Gui Lin, I had great trouble with the stability of the links. There was never this problem anywhere else in china, though it did occur to a lesser extent in HK. Basically the TCP links would be reset. At the time I just though that it was due to overloaded links, but then I read that Comcast in the USA was doing this to peer to peer links. I wonder if the chinese were doing the same?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Xian the first time

Strangely my drop down list has the title, thinking that it has been used before. But it does not exist in my blog.

On my first trip to Xian several quite strange and unusual things happened.
  • At the train station a man came up to me. He was a taxi driver. He wanted me to stay at a particular hotel. He was determined to do so. Verily so and so much more so than I have ever encountered before that I took special notice of it. When I told him where I was to stay, he said that I should not do so as the showers did not work. (Well this much turned out to be correct. The showers were cold and had to held by candle light. I stayed somewhere to the north west of the city wall.)
  • At the place where I was staying, this American man was sharing my dormitory room with two girls from Sweden. He said that he had been intending to stay at the hotel where I was offered by the taxi driver but had changed his mind. He seemed out of place in the low end accommodation that I was using.
  • While I was walking the streets of Xian with this man a day or two later, he was talking about having blue balls. Later he told the girls from Sweden that I was safe.
  • At the market in front of the grand mosque (大清真寺), I wanted to buy a green hat. The man at the stall asked if I was a muslim. I said no. He said that only muslims were allowed to wear hats like that. I thought he was being very narrow minded.
I learned quite a lot from this man. He was living in Taiwan and his chinese was very good. Back in 1999 it was still only a month after the nato (to the chinese american) bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. While I was always asked if I was an American and was glad that I could say no, he would say yes. I was somewhat aghast. But there ensured a discussion on several occasions. My chinese is not great, but I was impressed with how well the Chinese understood the one-sided view they are given by their media and the American man would always win the argument by pointing out that every day the (the chinese) threatened to blow up TaiPei and that he lived there. My resect grew enormously.

"Courtyard at the Great Mosque, Xi'an, China" by molas [?]
Courtyard at the Great Mosque, Xi'an, China

Friday, April 25, 2008

Day 4 - Xian, November 2006

For the second time, I arrive in Xian on the Z19 train. This time in the reverse directions. With all the speed up plans for the rail system, the journey is about half the time. I remember it taking 25 hours the time before. Now it is overnight. We arriving in the morning light.
Shaanxi farms the train tracks near Xian rail bridge locomotive

We do an early check into the hotel and then it is a quick orientation of the city. When I stayed here in 1999, I stayed outside the city wall on the north side. This time we stayed inside the wall near the south gate. It was the most chinese style hotel. I loved it, the others hated it.We had yummy pork dumplings for brunch. Unfortunately, I managed to dribble pig fat all over my camera. While standing in line at the dumpling shop, I was a bit tardy in deciding what to have. Some chinese girls got in the line in front of me. They got three dumplings for ¥1. We only got one. So I saw that there was still a dual price structure. But the locals were more discrete here in Xian. They did not know I knew enough Chinese to see what was going on.
tour group dumplings Bell Tower Bell Tower hawkers

We now headed off into the Muslim Quarter. I was quite keen to see how it had changed. I had some good meals there last time. think that there is more variety now. What had changed was that there was more activity. When I was there before, it was quiet. The streets mostly empty. Now it was bustling with commercial activity all the time. Brian and I had a traditional muslim meal with the large round piece of bread and a bowl of food. I preferred the one I had in 1999.
Electric Bicycle street cleaners shops muslim food tea pots bicycle truck changing the coal in the stove butcher firing taxi lunch lunch Making Lunch tourist stuff market trinkets food on a stick lamb on a stick Approriate Parking

In the afternoon we headed out to see the Terracotta Warriors. The whole place has been redeveloped and I was a bit saddened. But it is much nicer. The authorities were trying to stamp out the hawkers from inside the museum area, but with only limited success.
review toll booth Shaanxi Tourism Corporation group bus museum horses metal warriors ranks the end of the line roof repair workstation roof lone warrior ranks of warriors roof support pit no 2 and number 3 terracotta horses generals ornamental cabbages head warrior workings

In the evening, we went back to the Muslim Quarter, for a steam boat. I have to say I was not so impressed with this type of Steam Boat.
dinner food on a stick group dinner

After that we wandered back to our hotel.
muslim quarter photography street sweeping restaurant shuttle cock dried fruit market Main street Drum Tower underpass