There are many things we like about traveling with Intrepid, and a stand out for us is their commitment to sustainable & responsible travel as well as their support of local community organisations in destination countries.
An included activity for us in Xian was a visit to the Xian Huiling.
Huiling means “Wisdom and Soul”, and expresses the organisation’s “commitment to helping people with learning disabilities to have an active mind and a loving heart”, whilst providing opportunities to develop their personalities and enable them to achieve the maximum level of independence for their individual capabilities. Sounds like pretty good ethics to me.
A wide range of activities is provided including literacy skills, basic maths, housework, learning how to use public transport and using basic tools and computers. There is also tutoring in social skills which helps these people get by in society.
During our visit we enjoyed the privilege of being entertained with a wonderful song and dance routine which had been practiced in anticipation of our visit. Just sing along to “Stayin Alive” while you’re checking out these pics, to get a sense of the show…
|We were enthralled by this group of talented young people.|
|Getting in the groove.|
|Serious business, entertaining.|
This beautiful young woman provided a wonderful rendition of a traditional Chinese song. She really gave us her heart in this performance and we felt very privileged to be there.
With the main part of the entertainment over, we were all surprised to be invited up to the dance floor and join in the Chicken Dance!
|Here we have George, Jing, Jimmy, Dave and Anne getting right into it.|
|Da da da da da da da, da da da da da da da, da da da da da da da da da da da ….|
|It turns out that the Chicken Dance is a universal favourite!|
Besides the Terracotta Warriors, Xian is also famous for its Muslim Quarter. The streets are thriving with action and good food.
Most of Xi’an’s 50,000 Muslim Hui people are located in Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter, and the place was really pumping.
The main street runs for just over a kilometer and is crowded with buildings dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties.
|This was the coldest we felt so far on the trip, and the wettest.|
Best dishes in Xian – stuffed eggplant, sweet & sour pork balls, pork ribs, shredded potato, lotus root. And of course those little bundles of delicate deliciousness – dumplings. Brilliant!
I just loved the descriptions in our hotel brochure. Here are a couple of beauties: “Hotel Lobby. Style serves the parlor resplendent and magnificent, the seat mild and fragrant for you go through enter from when formalities, that style serves the personal steward makes you own honourable dignity and feel just like very much at home.” Then there’s the hotel room: “with the delicate layout enhancing luxury and stylish feelings, stay to experience the warm peacefulness as well as the free coziness ….. Experience our ultimate considerateness, in addition to the exclusive privacy, with our widely-viewing spacious, secure and convenient rooms.”
Xian stands out as a favourite for us and we will absolutely do our best to return to this wonderful city. There is so much more to explore and experience. Xi’an has a rich and culturally significant history, having been the major seat of the Empire from 220BC to the early 1400’s.
We’re now ready for our last transit, being another overnight train journey to Beijing.
We bought a bottle of Chivas Regal and a couple of shot glasses and several of us made good work of it.
A great night in the bunk room with Stan & Kay, Anne and Margaret. Sam also joined in for a while and regaled the group with stories from his Papua New Guinea days when he was Vice-Chancellor of the university in Lae during the student uprisings. They are amazing stories, which Sam shared eloquently.
|That’s Margaret enjoying the view from her top bunk.|
|Anne & Kay with Dave, getting ready for a night of talking and laughing.|
|Loving our last train transit.|
The train journey covered about 1500 kilometers, and took around 10 hours. We were reasonably well rested and ready for our blast into Beijing.
We’ve really been looking forward to visiting Beijing, and especially to climbing the Great Wall and walking through Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.