Riding Around History
Quote of the Day: “Matt, where’s your backpack?”
We woke up to another lovely day in Xi’an. We have been very lucky so far with the weather.
Our students started the day with a few morning classes with some of the 7th grade classes and some 10th grade classes.
At about 10, we walked to the subway station nearest to campus and headed off to the Shaanxi History Museum. (Xi’an is the capital of Shaanxi Province.) Xi’an was the capital of the Chinese Empire from 221 BC to the End of the Tang Dynasty in 907 AD, over 1000 years! During the Tang Dynasty, as the Eastern terminus of the Silk Road, Chang’an (as Xi’an was know at the time) was the most populous and cosmopolitan city in the world. There were people from all across Central Asia and even Europeans living here in the 800s. The Shaanxi History Museum has a great collection of artifacts from pre-historic cultures to the end of the Tang Dynasty.
After the museum, we hopped a bus to the Muslim quarter for lunch and a bit of shopping. There is a large Muslim population in Western China, in part related to the trade across the Silk Road during the Tang Dynasty. In fact the first Muslim emissaries came to China in the early 600s, prior to or just after the death of the Prophet Muhammad.
After our lunch, we headed to Ancient City Wall which still surrounds the inner city of Xi’an. Originally built under the Qin dynasty in 194 BC, the current wall is a reconstruction of the inner wall of the Imperial Tang Palace. It was rebuilt during the 14th century under the Ming Dynasty. The wall is 39 ft tall and 8.5 miles around.
We chose to hop on bikes and circumnavigate the top of the wall. It was a fun journey with lots of good adventures. 2/3s of the group chose to ride on tandem bikes, which added to the excitement of our journey. I rode about half of the wall with Yutaro and it was a great experience (and he didn’t make me tip over, which was even better!)
Because many of the host student’s had a big test tonight (classes run until 9 pm most night), we spent the evening together. We wandered back to the Muslim quarter and then headed to dinner. It was fun to spend a big chuck of time with our kids and we got to hear lots fun stories about moments with their host families. Make sure to ask about showers. I think everyone has had at least one adventure in trying to get themselves clean.
Tomorrow is our last day together before the students head out for the weekend. We will visit a village where a famous farmer/painter lives and have a chance to meet him. Then I think we will come back to campus and get to make some art of our own. Until tomorrow night… (We didn’t get Ali and her host again; we have one more chance tomorrow!)