Our last day in Xi’an snuck up on us rather quickly. After many days of rain, we had the most gorgeous day of sun and a cool breeze. We started the day by visiting a wild animal preserve in the foothills of the Qinling Mountains. We saw several pandas roaming around and munching on greens. We also had a chance to see other exotic animals, such as golden monkeys and peacocks (who put on quite a show for us).
After the preserve, we headed to the town of Huxian, which is the capital of Hu County. This area is know for its “peasant paintings.” These are brightly colored folk art paintings that often depict images of rural life in China. We visited a gallery of peasant paintings and met two of the artists who work on them. We were mesmerized by the colors as well as the simple patterns and images that depict some often complex issues and themes. Needless to say, many of us walked home with reproductions to add to our own art collections.
At the end of the day, many teachers visited the Xi’an city walls which offered an amazing vista of the city. Some participants even biked the entire perimeter of the city, soaking in one last view of Xi’an before our departure. Other teachers went to a cooking demonstration/class to learn some Chinese cooking techniques. We watched a noodle making demonstration and even cooked a sweet potato dish ourselves.
Tomorrow, we leave for Shanghai where we will begin our final leg of the trip. Two cities down, two to go (Shanghai and Suzhou).
Today’s Interesting Tidbit: the word for panda in Chinese is xiong mao, which literally means “bear cat.”
Photos: 1. Panda at the nature preserve, 2. Peacock at the nature preserve, 3. Sample of a peasant painting, 4. Noodle making demonstration.