This morning we had our final outing in Beijing: first to Tian’An Men Square and then through the Forbidden City. Reed and I also visited both in 2005, and I’m happy to say that the Starbucks has been removed from the Forbidden City. Julia was surprised I remembered it, but I told her it was only because we stepped inside to warm up from the frigid January air (no coffee was purchased as I thought it was awful that it was in the Forbidden City in the first place). The Square is huge and open, but the winding one-way path through the City was very congested. And there are so many temples and so much history within, it is overwhelming (it is my Chinese Louvre!).
A quick lunch and then we headed to the train station. Julia accompanied us all the way to our seats, which Lina had upgraded to first class. We said our heartfelt good-byes, and we were on our way. I was very impressed with the bullet train (300km/hour!), both in its speed and cleanliness. And Abbie really thought we were something going in such style. While on the 4+ hour journey, Abbie began reading the journal I have kept about her since submitting our adoption papers. She loves it and thinks it’s the best book she’s ever read. 😉
We arrived in Xi’an around 6:15pm, and easily made our way out of the station to our local CHI host, Anna, whom we instantly liked. Xi’an is much smaller than Beijing – only 9 million people! – and Anna said the traffic is not bad. Well, maybe the volume is less, but the style of driving is the same. The lines painted between lanes do not seem to apply, and I find it’s best to just close my eyes at times. Xi’an is full of very tall apartment buildings, which Anna aptly called a “forest,” and we are on the 20th floor of our swanky hotel. I think it may be the fanciest hotel I’ve ever stayed in, but the wifi stinks. 🙂 Oh well, we are here to see the Terracotta Warriors anyhow!