10 April 2011
We set off on our own for the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. Not many speak any English at all and we get sent in opposite directions sometimes when trying to find our way. Asking at a hotel is a good way to find things – we have learned from the Amazing Race tv show. Then onto the ancient wall of Xian which surrounds the city. We take a stroll along the top partway – all the way around is about 13 km. Today is Sunday and people are enjoying bike rides on the wall. In parks people are gathered and enjoying kite flying and dancing. The Chinese seem to take great pleasure in these sorts of leisure activities, probably because they work such very long hours. We see the same people at the hotel desk or shop in the morning and late at night.

The other popular pastime is gambling. No one can seem to resist a good game of cards or ma jong. We also find the Chinese very superstitious. Our 31-year-old guide truly seemed to believe that he had to wear the specific kind of jade prescribed by the Chinese doctor. As well, everyone drinks a type of tea that the doctor recommends for your specific health conditions. Different teas are used to treat different ailments.

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