Thursday, 18 April 2013

From China (10)

Wednesday evening 17 April
After a slightly later than normal start (how great it was to be able to linger over coffee at breakfast, even if only for a few moments), the pace resumed with a visit to the Shanxi Historical Museum which contains a great amount of bronze and other material from the Han Dynasty and many items from the Tang Dynasty era when Xian was the capital of China and the eastern gateway to the Silk Road.

This was followed by a visit to one of the pagodas and a calligraphy "display" (no pressure to buy anything but.....) and then a walk through the main street of the Muslim Quarter (lots of interesting shops).   The latter had an interesting "feel" to it.    I'm probably not doing it justice, but at least until I can think of a better description, I'll just say it still "felt" pretty Chinese but with a slightly "different" touch.   When I get the facility to post some images, I may be able to improve on this description.

Then it was off to the Xian airport for a 6 pm flight to Beijing.    The actual flight time was about an hour and a half, but there was a bit of an air traffic delay before we could take off.     By about 8.45 pm we were loaded into a bus for the transfer though the Beijing traffic to the hotel.  It was well after 9 pm, and the traffic on the 3rd Ring Road was still extremely congested.

While I think of it, I ought to comment on Chinese domestic air travel.   We've been on three different airlines, and the service on each has been good.   On the two daytime flights, we got a drink and a snack, and on this evening's flight we got a hot meal.    The food isn't exactly great, but it's certainly better than the "nothing" you get on the cheaper airlines in Australia unless you pay.   And each of the four airports we've been through so far have been very modern and spacious.    Particularly noticeable is the speed with which your checked luggage arrives on the belt.   I guess this may have something to do with the fact that I imagine Chinese baggage handlers don't have the same pay and conditions as those in Australia, so no doubt there can be more of them!

We're off to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City etc in the morning, so could be another "full on" day!

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