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Bustling Shanghai

Daily Staff Report
Special to the Daily/Luc Pols
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Editor’s note: This is the ninth in a series of stories about local resident Luc Pols’ trip on the Trans-Siberian Railroad.By Luc PolsSpecial to the DailyThe first time I went to Xi’an, I thought I was going to a small town of maybe 70 or 80,000 people. Was I wrong! It seems that every city in China, whether known to the outside world or not, has at least a million people. Xi’an is primarily known for The Tomb of the First Qin Emperor. In 1974, a farmer who was digging an irrigation canal stumbled onto a terra cotta statue, but nobody envisioned that the statue was just the beginning. Up until now about 8,000 terra cotta soldiers have been unearthed and can be visited, but there supposedly are hundreds of other burial places still to be uncovered. I must admit that since the first time I visited here five years ago, not much has changed. The only change I see today is a streamlined tourist park. Gone are the vendors who used to line the entrance and the atmosphere is not what it used to be. In the pits themselves, I could not see any changes … no new statues, nothing. Still, it is a sight to behold and definitely worth a visit when you are in China. Another gem in the town itself, but much less known, is the Mosque in the old Moslem quarter. This mosque has been in operation for over 1,250 years, since about the year 740. It is a quiet place in this city of three million and a great place to reflect. When we are there, we see believers come to the services for midday and it is interesting to see that there are not only older men, but also the younger generation worshipping. Xi’an also boasts a City Wall with gates still intact, as well as modern shopping centers next to the old Moslem quarter, where vendors still line the streets. Now for our last stop before returning home to Vail … Shanghai. Once again we take the night train and arrive in Shanghai in the early morning. We are staying at Rob and Sandi’s place, so no more hotels for a while and we can relax. What can I say about Shanghai. If Beijing is “Old China” then Shanghai is “New China.” Here boutiques, like we see in New York, Paris and London, line the streets and these are not just for the “ex-pats.” The Chinese are frequenting these stores more than the foreigners do. There is of course the Bund, the boulevard along the river, Pudong with its famous landmark tower and then there are the famous museums and art galleries, the Music Center and the Center for the Performing Arts and about 3 or 4 million automobiles, all trying to get to the same place at the same time. This city of about 19 million people is a bustling metropolis and has nothing whatsoever to do with the quaint pictures we see of Chinese farmers working the field. There is affluence, but also poverty, like all big cities. We enjoy our time with friends, even doing some formal receptions, this time, however, not as the Canadian delegates, but just as invited friends. Next week, I’ll wrap things up with some statistics and some personal opinions about the trip and I hope that you will read them.


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