We have never flown over the International Date Line before. It is an interesting thought process to know you have lost a day, and not just flying either. We left Salt Lake Tuesday morning and after a brief layover in Los Angeles we began our long flight to China. The sun chased across the ocean but never caught up with us until just shortly after we landed in our first layover in Shanghai. By the time we arrived at our hotel in Xian, it was nearly 1:00 am on the Thursday, so where Wednesday went, no one knows.
After a great night sleep we began our China experience with our incredible tour guide Angie, who took us to the Shanxi History Museum and then for a very tasteful lunch at a traditional Chinese hotpot, where we cooked our own food at the table.
In China, time isn’t measured in years nor centuries but rather Dynasties. The Little Wild Goose Pagoda was next on out list and was part of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD). Wonderfully preserved despite two earthquakes, one splitting the top and 100 years later, the other bringing it back together again. You can feel the history as you walk through what was known as China’s golden age. This was a time of exceptional creativity lasting nearly 300 years.
After the Pagoda we arrive at the highlight of the trip, the Star Fish Orphanage owned and operated by Amanda. What an incredible experience to hold the babies, to play with the older kids and to give even a small part of our time to this wonderful lady and her quest to save these unwanted children. We brought items needed and some treats for the children. While there Amanda had to go back to the hospital where two of the children were undergoing surgeries to correct deformities that they were born with and is the reason they were abandoned. For more information on the orphanage and to see how you can help you can go to www.xianstarfish.org
. As we left the orphanage we were held hostage of sorts. An elderly Chinese man was upset with our tour guide who evidently didn’t say hello to him. He stood in front of the bus for about 15 minutes and wouldn’t let us leave until a guard and another man and woman held him aside and let our bus pass. It was very strange and also very sad, as he felt it was a great disrespect not to say hello to him. Once on our way back to the hotel our bus driver got diverted through a very old traditional Chinese village. There were people who set up along the road with all kinds of food and items to buy. It took up nearly the entire road and made it nearly impossible to pass. The people alongside of the road stood in disbelief as they watched this large tour bus come within inches of the venders and people. Our driver was amazing as other large vehicles and what seemed like hundreds of motorcycles passed. It was a true view of China and the people and was the best detour ever taken.
The night ended with a wonderful music and fountain show at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. This is also known as China’s “leaning tower of Pisa”, although it is not leaning its size is about the same. As the music filled the air and the water danced, this spectacular show capped off the end to a perfect day. The drive back through the city at night brought Xian to life in a whole new way. The city walls, as well as the 90 guard towers were illuminated along with many of the historical buildings. This brought a whole new perspective to the city that you don’t get during the day.