August 28, 2016
I am shocked as I ride from the airport to the city.
On both sides of the modern highway, clusters of recently-constructed apartment buildings provide the only scenery.
Each cluster contains twenty high-rise towers.
Each tower is forty floors high and each floor contains sixteen apartments.
I estimate there are one hundred of these clusters between the airport and the city!
I first traveled to China and the Ancient City of Xi’an in the winter of 2008. The population of Xi’an was 4.5 million, a modest city by Chinese standards. Now nine years later, the population is close to nine million.
On my first trip to Xi’an, I visited the obligatory tourist attractions: the Drum Tower (1380) and the Bell Tower (1384) and the Great Wild Goose Pagoda (652), and the Muslim Quarter with the Great Mosque (742), one of the largest mosques in China. Of course I traveled out of town to see the Army of Terracotta Warriors – an extraordinary collection of sculptures dating back to 210 BCE.
This year, over the next month, I anticipate a lengthy journey heading west from Xi’an. So I decide to wander around the Xi’an neighborhood adjacent to my hotel.
Here I find the “daily life” of ordinary Chinese citizens: professionals, food vendors, and noodle shops. (I leaned later that every noodle shop prepares its own noodles from scratch.) In Xi’an I take lunch in a shop that specializes in spinach noodles.
Of course, in a big city like Xi’an, a few International food brands have entered the market. However, they don’t seem to be very popular. After all, the locally prepared food is fresh, varied and delicious.
Nevertheless, a few of the fresh food items I observe are, shall we say, “shocking?”
By the way, before I left Xi'an, I visited the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi (188-141 BCE), also known as the Han Lang Ling Museum. This is a worthy stop and well worth the effort to travel there.