Tuesday, January 10, 2012

West to Xi'an – 29 December 2011

Another three-hour flight to the west took us to Xi'an where we landed in the worst pollution we have seen so far. Beijing was not good, Shanghai was bad but Xi'an was terrible. When the pollution haze is discernible inside the atrium of the hotel and the local shopping mall you know there is a problem. Consequently attempting to take photos of the Small Wild Goose pagoda, our first stop after lunch, was an exercise in futility.

Although the lunch stop had an impressive name and was beautifully decorated we decided that the proprietor had invested his money in the wrong areas as the food was very mediocre.

The pagoda has had a chequered history and although it began life with 15 stories it lost a couple in an earthquake in 1556. According to the plaque, and verbal history, the tower has split and rejoined three time over the centuries as a result of earthquakes. If this is true the rejoins have been extremely precise.

Although we had free time in the late afternoon the outside conditions were not that inviting, but it was fun dicing with death crossing 8 lanes of traffic outside the hotel. There were white bars painted on the road surface but these only appear to be there for guidance as to where to walk, they have no relevance whatsoever to cars, buses, or the ubiquitous electric scooters.

How a busy intersection with 8 lanes of traffic entering from three compass points plus pedestrians works without traffic lights is a mystery, but the locals seem to cope with a minimum of fuss.

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