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:
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!