Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Each night at dinner, everyone in the family has to name at least one thing for which s/he is thankful. After our trip to Xi’an, I’m really reflecting on how thankful I am for a lot of things. Yes – I am thankful that we live in Shanghai, which is probably one of the cleanest and most Western cities in China (thus making it one of the easiest cities to live in for us – more on comparisons between Shanghai and Xi’an in my next post). But even more, I am thankful for the opportunities this year abroad has afforded us, opportunities that were on abundant display during our visit to Xi’an.

 Here are some of the things I am thankful for after our long weekend in Xi’an:

Spring Airlines – a budget airlines out of Shanghai. Not only did we get a decent flight at a cheap price, Doug also got his ipad back after accidentally leaving it on the plane on our flight there.

The Terra Cotta Army – despite reading that these warriors would not be of interest to people under 20, all of us LOVED the army. The Chinese call them the 8th wonder of the world (I understand that if you ask an average Chinese person, most of them believe there are 8 wonders); after seeing them, I wouldn’t disagree with that designation.

The Muslim Quarter – great street food along with great bargains. We all ate our round of first street food in China to no ill effect – sesame seed bread, fried bread stuffed with fried veggies, fresh noodles with a spicy tahini sauce, fresh pineapple. What can I say but yummy. The boys also honed their bargaining skills and managed to score two sets of warriors each – for about $5 total for both sets.


Historical sites – Xi’an is filled with amazing ancient sites: the Drum Tower, the Bell Tower, the Small Goose Pagoda, the Big Goose Pagoda, and so on. While I loved the army, I was just as impressed with all of the other wonderful sites in town.  We’ve seen so many of these sorts of amazing sites that sometimes they start to blur together (which in and of itself is mind-blowing to me), but in Xi’an, you can’t help but be awed by the history of these buildings - the youngest of these was over 500 years old I think.

Riding bicycles on the Xi’an city walls – the old city walls of Xi’an are still intact. Originally constructed over 1500 years ago, they were rebuilt over 500 years ago on the foundations of the original walls. On a beautiful day that was over 70 degrees and “sunny” (it’s hard to call it sunny in Xi’an as a thick haze hung over the city the entire time we were there), we were able to rent bicycles and tour around this wall that was “only” 500 years old. Stunning.

And finally – I am thankful for new friends. On Sunday night, we were able to meet up with the Savasta-Kennedy family (both Joe and Maria, who normally teach at UNC, are on Fulbrights in Xi’an) for dinner. We had a wonderful time talking and sharing experiences. Our boys loved hanging out with their daughter Christina, and their 14 year old sons Sam and Tom give me hope for how our boys might (hopefully) behave once they get older.   Regretfully, we didn't get any pictures, but the night was really wonderful.

All in all, it was a truly amazing experience (to give you some idea: we took over 400 pictures in just about three days!), and for that, I am truly thankful.


  1. All I can say is what a phenomenal weekend. You seemed to do so much in such a short period of time. In your last foto posted I see such happy faces and that makes me happy. Love to you all. Mom

  2. Not quite as good as being there as planned but you made us feel like we were. Could almost taste the fried bread and veggies! The wonder of these ancient places never ceases to amaze us. The last picture was so beautiful. Love to all.
    Dad and Judy