Friday, 20 February 2009

Xi'an and the Aircraft Egg: Part 2

The draining events of yesterday over, it was nearly time to say goodbye to china’s ancient capital. Before leaving though there were a couple of places left to visit.

First up was the Wild Goose Pagoda that towered over the park which surrounded it. There are two goose pagodas in Xi’an. The older one, which we went to see, was damaged by an earthquake hundreds of years ago and as a result many of the floors are inaccessible and the roof has crumbled. Because of this a new pagoda was built for those who wish to worship there.

Around the base of the pagoda people were gathered to partake in a morning routine of exercise and Tai-Chi. The various groups, each with their own style, were all friendly and inviting if you had the courage to join in.

Some simply performed to music while others tried to keep balls on a ping pong racket or danced with swords.I couldn’t imagine thirty people in London walking the streets with swords and going to a park to exercise together.

The grounds of the pagoda was one of the most peaceful places I have ever been. There was such an air of calmness and gentility that it seemed some magical force was protecting it from all the ills of the outside world. The ceremonial bell inside the grounds rang, the people moved off to work and it was time for us to move on once more. The last stop before the airport was the local jade factory.

In China jade is worth more than gold.You can tell if jade is real by putting it in the palm of your hand. If the jade warms up then it's fake. Jade should always be cold and not warm up. The colder it is the better the quality.

We went on many tours of factories in China (many of which are designed to relieve you of money), but it was well worth seeing some of the magnificent craftsmanship and detail they put into the sculptures and jewellery.

All that was left was head to the airport. We left the home of the Terracotta Army behind and jetted off into the earthquake hit Sichuan basin and Panda country.

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