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MORE THOUGHTS GOING WEST AT 30,000 SOMETHING

sunny 62 °F

Early flight (left hotel at 5AM; aboard China Southern Airline; from Shanghai to Xi 'an - about a 2 hr flight. We’ll have a full day in Xi'an before returning to Shanghai tonight(11PM). Tomorrow, we begin the journey home.

I'm so glad I came. We've seen so much in a short time. Because I'm part of a tour; I understand I'm seeing tourist’s sites; which doesn't translate to normal life. I'm the most impressed with the sheer numbers of the population.

Everywhere we go there are massive apartment complexes - empty. They're being built for the future when the middle class will expand & can afford to rent or lease the spaces. I can't help wondering if this is a "Field of Dreams” - build them & they will come. If China's economy sputters these investors are in trouble. It will make our last 10 years look like a walk in a park. China doesn't have a large enough middle class to shoulder the burden.

Gas - about $6.23 per gallon - not liter.

Travel - among our 5 guides only 2 have left the country & only 1 has traveled to the USA. They all desire to travel to the states but it's difficult & expensive to leave China & even harder to get a travel visa from the USA because of our quotas.

Internet & CNN - still astounded that my blackberry isn't blocked. Fellow travelers with apple are having a hard time - am guessing it's due to the pissing contest between Apple/Google & China. Watching CNN the other night as soon as the commentator made a negative comment about China; there was a blackout. A few minutes later the program resumed.

Birth control - interesting how often the "one child per family" was discussed by the female guide in Beijing & is never mentioned by the female guide in Shanghai. In Beijing, Ling told us the law is now a "suggested law" because there aren't enough young people to support an aging population. A woman is supposed to be married & at least 25. Prior to 25; she must have permission & if it's not granted; she’s expected to have an abortion. According to Ling, in the cities, women mostly pay a fine - only in the outer provinces is abortion sometimes ordered. Ling was very proud of the rights of Chinese women. The information by the Xi'an guide is that if a couple both come from single children families they may have two children. In the country; if the 1st child is a girl; the couple can have a 2nd child.

Marriage 11/11 divorce - 30%. There are approximately 100 females to 120 males...soon too many bachelors.

Corruption - lots of surprise at the outgoing presidents harsh statements about the internal political corruption.

Congratulations re: Obama - yesterday, as we visited a garden we met a European tour group. They started congratulating us on President Obama’s election. Then some people from Africa joined in as did some Chinese. I was surprised; I think everyone in our group was.

Toll roads - 70% of the world’s toll roads are in China & are the greatest single revenues for the government. I was sure this was a joke but our guide says not. This can't be good - it's not new money - only money being recycled. I'm totally puzzled by China's economy. Why isn't exports the biggest revenue source?

Bargaining - I'm really not good & it’s almost mandatory. I'm so bad the sales people start helping me - which is beyond silly. One time I got confused & went up in price. The sales lady looked at me in shock & "oh no Madame, you do it backwards!"

China is land poor - only 7% of its land is arable & it's in the developer’s way.

Posted by ChinaBecky 17:41 Archived in China Comments (0)

XI'AN - DAY 7

sunny 67 °F

My alarm rang at an almost impossible hour - 4:15 for a 4:45 departure to Xi'an. About 1/2 our tour opted to fly
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to Xi'an (Western Peace) specifically to see the Terra-Cotta Warriors. I also wanted to see the area because I've always been fascinated by the Silk Route and Xi'an was the military & trading base for SR. In 755 the city was the largest, most cosmopolitan settlement in the world. Do you have any idea what were doing in Europe at the same time? Not so much.

Given the short amount of time we had, I was annoyed that we stopped at the folkart museum. I didn't pay the extra money to see art - I wanted to see the Terra-Cotta Warriors. To my surprise, not only did we get a brief history of folk art and were introduced to calligraphy.
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My feeble attempts
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After lunch, we again make another stop & most of us are starting to look at our watches as we fly back to Shanghai tonight and the Terra-Cotta Warriors are no where in sight. This time we stop at the city wall or chengqiang (city wall, I think.) The City Wall was built by order of Zhu Yuanzhang; the same ruler who started The Great Wall and the Terra Cotta Soliders.
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FINALLY - we are at the Terra Cotta Warrior pits! Awesome! It's hard to explain the reaction but I felt as tho the warriors could suddenly awaken and the horses begin to run. Thousands of these live-sized figures were created over 40 years by roughly 700,000 workers about 210 BC. Yes, BC.
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What a day - worth every exhausting minute. We returned to Shanghai about midnight and to our hotel at 1:00AM - & tomorrow we begin our flight home.

Posted by ChinaBecky 06:45 Archived in China Comments (0)

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