DSC04862Thankfully, our guide provided van transportation back to our hotel after the dinner show in lieu of another subway adventure. As an added benefit, we took a few slight detours and got to see a portion of Xi’an at night, including the city walls and the bell tower all lit up!

The next morning, arising as early as ever, I took a moment to reflect on our time here while gazing out our 11th floor hotel window.DSC04867

Xi’an, deep in the interior of China, was suddenly thrown into the international spotlight by the discovery of Emperor Qin’s terra cotta army just 41 years ago. Until then, westerners who paid attention in World History class might only have remembered that it had been one of the four ancient capitals of China, and the starting point of The Silk Road.

If they paid attention.

DSC04866Today it is a city of contrasts, with goats being herded down the busy streets and the ever-present industrial smog. And I do mean ever-present.

The denseness of the smog in most, if not all major cities, is something I didn’t anticipate when I planned to visit this country, and I wonder how much Mao Zedong’s rush to “industrialize” China is to blame.

Strange thoughts to be contemplating the last morning of our week-long China Adventure, but certainly something to consider as I sat and sipped my Coke Zero, and I felt oddly validated for my staunch environmental protection voting record.DSC04869

Our guide got us effortlessly through the two-terminal check-in process for international travel, despite the fact that “CheapO Air,” (I am not making this up!) our original airline, had cancelled our scheduled flight.

There was an outbreak of MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) in Seoul which killed 23 people (all of whom came into direct contact with the original carrier inside a hospital), and travelers were changing their plans to visit Korea at that time.

DSC04870MERS didn’t worry me at all. I was too busy trying to figure out how to pack all my necessary souvenirs into my suitcases in order to get them back to the United States safely!