Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Rainy Day in Xi'an

The very first thing that struck me when we touched down in Xi'an a few days ago was the smell.

Rather... the fragrance.

I took a deep breath upon exiting the airport, and it was... so... mmmmm... clean!  The air smelled so fresh and fragrant, I couldn't get over it!  And take note, this was the airport... what more when we travelled further from here?

The car ride into the city was long, but it really didn't matter... since our company manager Jamey was in the car with me, the work-related conversation kept us mentally busy enough... but once we entered the city proper, I found it to be well planned, well laid out, and very beautiful.  And this was at night.  A lovely, fragrant, clear night.

The next day was our press day in Xi'an to promote Cinderella in the city before we open on Thursday... thank goodness we weren't going to be in costume.  The last two cities we visited for press (Shanghai and Beijing), we had to wear our ball finery. Beautiful, but not always the most comfortable.  So the news that we could just wear our own clothing (I chose a Cinderella t-shirt with diamantes and a pair of jeans) was very welcome.  The press conference was held in the in-progress Land of Lotus. I didn't get a tour or a description of the complex, but from the looks of it, it's a residential community being built by one of our presentors in Xi'an.  It's not far from the Tang Paradise (where the Emperor of China resided in the Tang dynasty) and the Great Wild Goose Pagoda... and we spied this billboard on our way home:

This is somewhere in Tang Paradise

And this one was on the adjacent corner. Sorry about that car...

Yesterday morning, we visited the Immigration Office to get our photos taken for what's going to be our temporary residence certificates... it took all of 5 minutes to do.  Go in, sit down, check all your info to make sure it's correct, take a digital photo, and leave.  A representative from the presentor's office as well as our associate company manager were there to help with translating.  I had my own translator with me as well (her name is Lynn), so there were enough English-Mandarin speakers there.  It was a bit early in the morning to be awake, so my whole day was spent somewhat bleary-eyed.  Two other members of the touring group (our trumpet player Amy and one of the backstage guys Noah) were at immigrations with us too, so we dropped them off at their hotel first.

Since the cast was staying at that same hotel, I thought to alight and see who was milling around in the lobby... jackpot!  I found quite a few people going online (there was free wi-fi in the lobby) so we decided to stay and hang out for a nice long while.  I got the update from Kristin on what was going on in the company... Jefferson's run-in with a bike pedal on the city walls... the hotel peacocks being unafraid of the human visitors... expensive laundry and package sending... and going around and about in Xi'an, complete with Mandarin cheat sheets and plenty of pointing.

We had lunch with two cast members, Brandy and Kristin at a Malaysian restaurant called Melaka.  And yes, authentic Malaysian food!  I had myself some Nasi Lemak... Brandy ordered the most beautiful eggplant and prawn dish I've ever eaten in my life, ever, and the rest ordered some really tasty fare.  Yummy!

After lunch, we dropped Brandy and Kristin off at their hotel, and we then headed to a place whose name translates to "book garden gate".  According to Lynn, it was formerly a school or collection of schools.  Now, it's a place of shopping... stalls that sell all kinds of jewelry, souvenirs and trinkets, and the main stores sell art supplies, tea cups, jade, artifacts, copies of the Terra Cotta warriors, and jewelry.  Here are a few pictures:

And here's a view of part of the City Walls from where we were parked:

Yeah, we'll definitely have to visit that site too...

Today, I finally will get some work done at the theatre... there's a sitzprobe scheduled with our orchestra and musical director, and then I don't know what I'll be doing!  Perhaps I'll ask my translator what would be a good place to visit in the evening.

My stay in China has unfolded another purpose... my husband's great-grandfather was a general in World War II (his name is Chien Ta-chun, or Qian Dajun) so I'm trying to find as much as I can in whatever non-working time I have.  I just found out he had an office here in Xi'an, close to the hot springs, so I'm going to make time to go see it and take some pictures.  I'm sad that Rob isn't here to see this with me, I'm sure he would have really enjoyed this trip.

Oh goodness, it's time for me to get ready!  I've got work this afternoon!  Bye for now!


joshiewoshie said...

Hi ms. lea,
it is nice to know that you are enjoying your stay there in china... china is where my step dad was born and grew up. He always tell us that China is really a great place to go to... :) take care there!! we miss you here in the philippines and enjoy your stay and Cinderella will be loved by the Chinese people...

mitsuru said...
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Badabing said...

The press con photos landed in our Cinderella in China album (51 photos and counting).

The "Bloody Chien" (what Reds named him) has a short article in Time magazine in 1938.,16641,1101380314,00.html

Nic has an interesting lineage - anti-communist General Chien Ta-chun, Mulan, Lakandula...:)

Anne said...

Good morning Ms. Lea,

It's exciting to know that you'll be performing here in Beijing. When is the playdate and where is it going to be held? I have been telling my friends and kept asking me when.

Thanks so much.

arlin said...

if i'll be the one who'll come across that billboard.. i would scream on the top op my lungs "that's ultimate idol!" not so proud eh..

Henry O. said...

Hi Lea. I've followed your career from your Annie days at Rep to your Fantine at Broadhurst (I saw you during Les Miz's last week here in NYC. Simply brilliant.) Congratulations on another career milestone there in China. And break a leg!

piksonline said...

Hi, Lea~
We were just curious: we've noticed that the posters and billboards say, "Tongy Award Winner". Do you know why they say "Tongy" instead of "Tony"? The rest of the English on the posters/billboards is correct. Just curious... :-)
Skip & Loretta

Oliver Oliveros said...

Welcome back to blogspot! Take care and enjoy!

mizgina said...

I'm loving your new blog spot and the accompanying photos, Lea. Thanks for walking us through your adventures in China. Good luck on all your shows there! :)

Warrior119 said...

wow, thanks for sharing all the pics, manang :-)