Guest blogger Tim Parenti reports for the Heinz Chapel Choir as they tour China...
Again, after a long day Sunday, I'm writing this on Monday morning here in Xi'an. You'll soon see why.
Day 6 – Sunday 3 May 2009
After an exhausting day at the Great Wall, we would certainly want to get a full night's sleep to recharge. But we were awakend by our hotel phones at 04:30 to get us ready for our flight to Xi'an in the west of China, which was the capital city for eleven dynasties and has a very rich history.
Though Beijing was chosen as the capital of the People's Republic of China, Xi'an is home to 8 million people and it is undergoing a boom of construction these days, including its first subway system which is due to be completed in a few years. After having landed at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport at around 09:30, which was just opened in 2003, we made our way to a lunch buffet which featured a mixture of Chinese and Western cuisine. While rice is the staple in the east of China, wheat and corn are grown here in Xi'an, so the west of China revolves around noodles. It was very interesting (but also a bit refreshing) to have fish and chips next to my noodles and rice!
Our local tour guide, May, then talked more about the rich history of Xi'an as we made our way to Xi'an Conservatory of Music for the second of our four concerts here in China. The real treat for us was the local women's choir we got to hear perform after us. It was simply splendid! One surprise we had is that they sang a very similar arrangement of Shenandoah to the one we had sung just a short while prior. This particular American folk song is always very well-received around the world, and so it was nice to hear their rendition.
After the concert (and a short rest period), we went to dinner at a Tang Dynasty dinner theatre. There was live music played on the zheng… the kind of soft, peaceful, and reflective music you'd expect to be played through a speaker at Asian restaurants in the States… except it was live. The food was a feast of over 18 different kinds of dumplings, so there was more than enough for everyone to get things they already enjoyed and to try things they never knew were so good, including rice wine.
Dinner was followed by a performance about the Tang Dynasty, which was centered in Xi'an and which is regarded as one of the most peaceful times in Chinese history. I have a lot of pictures from the stunning and breathtaking performance, and though I can only show a few here, I hope you'll please check out the others. We were completely captivated by the show, and after the hustle and bustle from Point A to Point B all morning and afternoon, this was truly our welcome to Xi'an.
Then, it grew late, and we returned to the hotel to catch up on some much-needed rest and prepare for a new day.
There are plenty more pictures from Day 6 here, including several from the Tang Dynasty performance. Check them out and leave some comments!
Coming up: On Monday, we visit the Terra Cotta Soldiers of Xi'an and Qin Shi Huang tomb before boarding an evening flight to Hangzhou.