January 9th

It was a bright (or rather dark) and early start for us this morning, as we got up as early as 3:30am for mobilization around 4:30. The first step was checking out of our Beijing hotel! We headed to the airport to catch our flight for Xi’an!

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Less than two hours later, we landed in Xi’an (pronounced “she-ahn”)! Xi’an is a city full of rich history spanning much of China’s dynastic past. We drove through areas representative of three different dynasties just riding our bus from the airport to center city. Xi’an is much smaller than Beijing, although still large by our standards with a population of around 8 million.

Our first stop in Xi’an was the old city wall. Xi’an is the only city in China with an intact city wall, and parts of the wall have seen 600 years of history. We got off and spent some time walking around and enjoying the view!

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After a stop for lunch in the city, we went to our new hotel to check in. I think just about everybody on this tour would agree that this hotel and the rooms we are staying in are very classy and nice! Some of us have awesome views, and it feels like we’re living in penthouse suites for two nights!

Our next stop for the day was the Shaanxi Normal University for an opportunity to perform and exchange our culture with the people of Xi’an. After a few setbacks that required some heavy lifting of chairs, stands, and percussion equipment down some 8 flights of stairs, we decided to just break for dinner and perform without rehearsal. Although this could have come back to bite us, we were gifted with an incredibly friendly and encouraging audience! They laughed at all of Dr. McCutcheon’s jokes (in english, mind you!) and kept us after the concert for an encore! They wouldn’t let us leave after we had already exhausted all of our playable repertoire – quite the positive dilemma to be in!!

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For our last piece, “Hands Across the Sea,” we invited the music students of the university to join us on stage to read the piece. We had a handful of students come up, and fun was had all around! We had a chance to do some mingling, and we certainly made some friends:

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Tomorrow, we visit the Terra Cotta Warriors Museum and check out the famous Muslim Quarter of Xi’an, as well as spend some unstructured free time in the city on our own.

For all of today’s pictures, check out our flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/113489266@N06/sets/72157639582375946/

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