I Get Visitors…

Last week, I had some visitors from Beijing. This marks the first time I had anyone stay with me in Xi’an. I hosted my friends, Minnie and former student Max, for three nights during my weekend. For those “unschooled” in the adoption of western names by Chinese, Max, for reasons unknown seems to be a name adopted by females rather than males.

Minnie also used to be a student but was hired by EF because her English was (and is) quite good. When Nancy and Sophie visited me in October, 2016, Minnie was kind enough to escort us around Beijing.

It was great to be a tourist in Xi’an with those who can speak Mandarin. Despite living here, the language barrier can be daunting especially when doing something other than making a simple purchase. At long last, I went to the Shaanxi History Museum. Shaanxi is the province that Xi’an is located in. As it turned out, there was plenty of English to enjoy the museum without the need for interpretation. Having said that, there are many lines that form outside and it’s difficult to know exactly where to stand and as it turned out, tickets for entering in the morning were sold out, so we waited until the afternoon tickets were released. Something so mundane would have been completely lost to me if I had attempted to gain entry on my own.

In other “news”, Xi’an is now well into the “dog days of summer.” That means it’s hot and humid most days. I don’t have any major plans for the summer, at this point. There are a few international teachers here at EF that are leaving Xi’an, including my “bestie” Azara who is off to Spain to teach. I have reason to believe that at least one teacher close to my age will show up sometime soon. I’ve also been appointed “Teacher Ambassador” for Xi’an. This means yours truly is now the two EF branches “welcome wagon”, helping new international teachers by answering questions they have, ahead of their arrival as well as greeting them at the airport and helping them acclimate in the first weeks of their new life here. Yes, Brian Symonds, “PR person, extraordinaire!” BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

See the many photos below to see what else Minnie, Max and I did. “Minnie and Max.” Now there’s a collocation for you!

Post-Script: Today is June 26th. It would have been Ellen’s 73rd birthday.

This street was loaded with bar after bar which I had no idea existed. I also didn’t realize it’s only one block from the City Wall. It was quite a discovery! There are three kitty cafes in this area. Somewhere new to hang out on my days off!

The ladies wanted to visit a cat cafe which suited me just fine. I love “fleabags.”

Minnie and Max wanted to visit Jiaotong University which is top rated in China. “Jiao Tong” means transportation in Mandarin

The backside of the stone has an English explanation for why 1977 was being commemorated

I was amazed that a certain historical event in China was mentioned. It’s not something talked about

Minnie got someone to give up her cap and diploma. For the record, she graduated university about 8 years ago

Note the logo shirt I bought from the university gift shop

We went on a walk on the City Wall which is only the second time I’ve done that

The “wishbone” at the end means “people” in Mandarin. Yes, no more than 110,000 people are permitted on the wall at once. Not sure how they can keep track, but 110K people in China is merely a “rounding error.”

Looking down from the City Wall. What’s wrong with this picture?

Scenes from up on the City Wall

There was a traditional performance in the plaza next to the City Wall

Chang’an is the original name of Xi’an. Chang’an means “Perpetual Peace” whereas Xi’an means “Western Peace”

The next day at the Shaanxi History Museum

Admission is free but the special exhibit will set you back 30 RMB (a little over $4)


The next day we went to the old part of Xi’an for lunch and wandering around

Just outside the noodle house where we had lunch, people were engaging in a traditional way to obtain good luck. By drinking tea and then smashing the cup they sipped the tea from. ” ‘Curiouser and curiouser,’ said Alice.”

For lunch, we stopped at a traditional noodle house

This is a bowl of Xi’an’s famous Biangbiang noodles

This was a guy on a traditional Chinese instrument. It sounded a bit discordant to this westerner’s ear



According to Minnie and Max, this is the most complex Chinese character in the language: 58 strokes. It means, biang biang noodle, the popular Xi’an noodle dish

This is the singer that followed the guy on the Chinese instrument

As we headed to our next destination, we passed the Bell Tower which is a major sight

I live in Qujiang and walked past this bookstore countless times without ever going in. But Minnie and Max wanted to see it. I’m glad I finally went in

Kissinger, understandably, is held in high esteem in China. I just read his memoirs, “On China” and despite what I think of his fondness for the likes of Nixon and Trump, he was an enormously pivotal figure in modern Chinese-American relations

Well, you were expecting Thomas Jefferson?

But of course. There were also other books on Barren Wuffett

Macbeth and Much Ado About Nothing. The ban on the Bard in China was lifted in 1977. Any idea just how many words and phrases were coined by Shakespeare? Find out, here

James Joyce, anyone?

King Lear, Jane Eyre and Hamlet

Most of the books in this area are in English

Here’s “delicious food.” I wonder where the books of “mediocre food” are

The World Cup is on, everywhere around town. This is the Xi’an Brewery which is near where I live. I probably go here more than any other establishment to eat and drink. They serve a decent burger and pizza but I’m not crazy about their beer

A quail egg pizza costs about $6

Xi’an Brewery makes it own beer. Here’s the “sample flight” (cost: 88RMB/$13)