Breakfast at hostel. We tried (among other occidental stuff) the ‘rice balls’. Not great (‘soggy balls with a kind of peanut paste inside).
It’s raining this morning.
Isabelle goes to the train station to buy our tickets from Shanghai to Shenzen and then to visit the Drum Tower and the Stele Forest museum while we stay at the hostel. We try to listen somehow to the feedback from the kids who said that they needed more relaxing day in between the ones when we move a lot or when we have hectic programme and also that they would like more activities “for kids”. So we stay a bit longer at the hostel and we also plan to go and do a 9D virtual experience that was highly recommended to us by our Belgian ‘world tourers’ friends.
We first do a session (usually 1h30) of Dutch. It’s the only ‘class’ that we (I) can teach to the 3 of them simultaneously since they have the same level (absolute beginners). It’s quite useful for me too… We start at 12:30pm and finish around 2pm when the pizza that I ordered arrives. It’s probably one the worst pizzas I’ve ever had. I’m a bit guilty since I ordered a ‘fruit pizza’ (to please the kids) but I didn’t expect to receive a (micro-waved) lukewarm pizza with a can of fruits on it, just covered by cheese.
We then walk to a metro station to go to the 9D experience. I could see on a metro map in one of our guidebooks that the line 4 brings us directly there. The problem is that this line 4 is still under construction… They could have mentioned it in the guidebook. We thus changed to another line. It’s a bit more difficult without Isabelle (we usually blindly follow her) but we are very proud to find our way (and the kids greatly help me). We reach the square in front of the Big Goose Pagoda. We can’t find immediately the attraction. I go to the tourist information booth and show the picture of Mica “on” the attraction (I received it from our Belgian friends via our WhatsApp ‘Belges du bout du monde’ group). Quite useful since the girl shows me the direction. We wouldn’t have found it: it’s in a small room.
Jules and Ludivine start first. They can choose among 10 different ‘movies’. They choose ‘roller coaster’. It’s amazing to see them react during the 5’ movie. They scream and move as if they were really scared although their seat hardly moves… They enjoy very much. Right after, while Florence and I were hesitating about doing it, the guy showed us the next-door attraction, which seems to be included in the tickets that we bought for Jules and Ludivine. It’s an 6D attraction where we are all together (each with our VR mask of course). We are on a space vessel, participating in a race. It’s quite impressive and what amazes me the most is that we really feel (inside our body, not only in our head but also in our stomach) the same sensations as in a normal (real) attraction.
We then take the metro to go to our 5pm appointment with Isabelle on top on the South gate, on the ramparts. We walk a bit on the ramparts. Xi’an is indeed one of the few cities in China where the imposing old city walls still stand.
Then we walk to the Muslim quarter with is very animated, especially at night. Nice atmosphere, a lot of people. We eat many different things, each of us choosing his favorite stands (mainly pomegranate and coconut for Ludivine, potato chips stick and cotton candy for Florence, pomegranate and potato chips stick for Jules and various skewers).
For info, Xi’an is a big city; it has 9 million inhabitants.
At night, back in the hotel, Isabelle and I have a positive (but painful) discussion with Ludivine, who has been acting a bit like a prima donna recently, on top of her bitchy behavior with her brother (although he also bears his share of responsibilities).
As a side note, a few words about the ‘Belt and Road’ ambitious and bold programme of China. We can indeed see many ads (in the subway) for this programme.
It is a development strategy proposed by China’s leader Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries. The strategy underlines China’s push to take a larger role in global affairs with a China-centered trading network of railways, roads, pipelines, and utility grids (there are three overland routes and one maritime which extend between China and Europe) that would link China and Central Asia, West Asia, and parts of South Asia. Launched in 2013, it involves China underwriting billions of dollars of infrastructure investment in countries along the old Silk Road linking it with Europe, in order to create the world’s largest economic platform. The ambition is immense. China is spending roughly $150bn a year in the 68 countries that have signed up to the scheme. Hailed by Xi as a “project of the century”, the plan fits into his bigger narrative that China is setting an example of globalization, filling the void left by the US under Donald Trump’s “America First” policy.
Sunday 17/09 (1/2)
Departure at 7:30am from the hotel.
A lot of traffic for a Sunday morning!
Quick visit of the Tomb of Emperor Jindi on the way to the airport (we asked the hostel to organize a private transport). We arrive there at 8:30am, at the opening.
About this site:
Much influenced by Taoist precepts, Emperor Jingdi based his rule upon the concept of wuwei (nonaction or noninterference) and did much to improve the life of his subjects. The contents of his tomb are interesting, as they reveal more about daily life than martial preoccupation – a total contrast with the Terrocotta Army.
The site has been divided into 2 sections: the museum and the excavation are. The museum is beautiful; it holds a large display of terracotta figurines (more than 50,000 were buried here), including eunuchs, servants, domesticated animals…
We stay one hour over there.
Then we continue with the car to the airport. Our flight to Guilin is at noon. We try to find a breakfast. We get good fresh juices but cannot find anything else except a chocolate brownie with ice cream at Burger King for the kids…