Student Blog: The China Ten - Business Study Tour of China
A Shaky Situation in Xian:
Another Earth-shaking Stop for the China Ten
by Brad Ross '09
We could not have began our trip to Xian any better then with the smooth flight from Shanghai. At the airport, we met up with our Xian tour guide Lucy who wasted no time to get us loaded on the buses and off to our first destination, the Xian history museum. On the way there, Lucy told us a little background about the oldest city in China and how Xian's main attraction, the terra-cotta warriors, have helped put her on the map.
Once arriving at the museum, Lucy led us through the packs of tourists to the central building to begin her walking tour. Even though Lucy was very knowledgeable about each exhibit we passed, I personally enjoy wandering about on my own, picking and choosing which exhibits I want to see. Group members Robert Van Geons, Sheri Keithley and Angelica Frescia also preferred to stray away from the group to explore on our own. So we four took a separate route and conducted our own museum tour based on our personal interests. As we made our way to the second floor of the building, our interest in the museum's offerings began to taper off. Sheri and Angelica were abbreviating the tour by just snapping photos and moving on while Robert began searching for the nearest refreshment stand that sold Tsing Tao. So with little to salvage of the experience, I began to follow suit with everybody else until something very unexpected happened.
Everybody around us on the second floor began pushing towards the stairs. Museum security guards dashed into our room and started yelling in Chinese while motioning to leave the building. So with little understanding of what was happening, Robert and I kept the girls close and vacated the building. Once we reached the courtyard outside the museum, we joined back up with the rest of the tour group. Looking a bit nervous, I asked Lucy what was going on. From what she had heard, there was an earthquake aftershock that hit a nearby city and the seismic waves were felt in the city of Xian. As all the tourists waited inside the courtyard, museum guards ran inside the building in search of remaining tourists and began forming a human barrier at the entrance. Chinese tourists seemed the most concerned of all, with many of them crying and grasping nearby loved ones. Soon after, the museum was officially closed for the day and we were escorted off the premises.
Experiencing the overall sense of urgency and fear that the Chinese expressed helped put into perspective how the country was coping with the aftermath of the May earthquake. Because the May 12 th earthquake caused so much physical and emotional damage throughout China, the country has come together to help rebuild. Many large cities such as Beijing, Xian and Shanghai have opened up their hospitals for earthquake survivors to receive medical aid and shelter. Also, major housing projects have been initiated to help accommodate the 4.8 million people who were left homeless after the disaster. We would later be informed from our tour guides that the aftershock we experienced hit the city of Dujiangyan, which was about 300 kilometers away from our location. The tremor destroyed 71,000 homes and injured over 400 civilians. There was some talk amongst EF tours to cancel the remaining duration of our trip, but this would only occur if there was continuing seismic activity.
After experiencing such a shocking event, the rest of our first day in Xian was pretty much lost. In an attempt to ease the worry, Lucy arranged for us to have dinner at a traditional Chinese hot pot restaurant. Resembling a fondue style of eating, a boiling pot of water was placed in the center of the table for diner's dip in and cooks various veggies and meats. While I personally enjoyed feasting on the various fresh meats such as lamb and beef, many of my group disagreed with my opinion. Sheri, who sat beside me, became frustrated with the whole chopstick dipping routine and resorted to eating fried rice with her soup spoon. A few seats down, Robert was struggling with appreciating the hot pot and began referring to it as "Chinese Fondon't."
So after a long day of emotional highs and culinary lows, the China Ten retired to our hotel. Lucy recommended everyone to get a good night's sleep because we were visiting the terra-cotta warriors in the morning. She also highly recommended everybody to review their room escape routes located on the back of their room doors. With much to think about, I settled into my room and eventually fell asleep, hoping not to be awakened during the night by the floor shaking!
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