China 1999

Written by Al Wong (Write to me)

This is my experience in Beijing, China in the Summer of 1999. If you came to this webpage first, it's better if you start from the beginning of the story.

Tuesday, July 20th
Shaanxi History Museum,
Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Today's activities include:

    [Museum Admission Ticket]
  • Shaanxi History Museum. This museum is quite close to the hotel. About a 5 minute ride. It contains about a billion artifacts of Chinese history according our tour guide. Kind of like the Smithsonian for Chinese ancient history. I didn't ask how they keep track of a billion artifacts. I have several thousand personal artifacts and I can't keep track of them.

    We visited the first two floors. I understand there are four floors in the building. The displays we saw went through the various Chinese dynasties in Xi'an from 2100 BC(!) to present day.

    There were all kinds of stuff on display and it was very impressive. I liked the artifacts showing the beginnings of the Chinese writing system. It was very interesting. We were given only 1.5 hours in the museum and only saw a small fraction of what was on display. I wish I knew more about China's history. I'd like to go back and spend an entire day there.

    In the gift store near the entrance, I almost bought a jade ring that I thought looked cool. It was translucent with green swirls. I was advised that I could get a better deal in the jade factory we are going to visit later today.

    [Big Wild Goose Pagoda]

  • Big Wild Goose Pagoda. This is one of the oldest pagoda in Xi'an. It stands at 64 meters tall and has seven levels. The pagoda is part of a temple complex for Buddhism.

    We walked around a bit and some people decided to climb the pagoda. I passed on this because there wasn't anything to see inside the pagoda other than the outside view. Also, I sprained my left ankle about 4 days ago and it hasn't had a chance to fully heal yet.

    [Rectangular Incense Burner] A thing that interested me in this place was the large incense burner! I have never seen a square or rectangular incense burner before. Usually they are round because, supposedly, round incense burners carry better feng shui.

    There were a few stores in the complex. The friendship store is the more interesting one. There were souvenirs galore.

  • Jade Factory. This was supposedly a well known jade factory in Xi'an. We were taken through their work room and given an introduction to the types of jade. Then we were taken through various display rooms. According to our tour guide, Huang xiao jie, we can get very good deals here.

    I thought the prices were very high for most of the items but, since this was a jade factory and they certify that they are selling genuine jadedite (the hardest type of jade), I thought I should buy something in real jade. I ended up with a female buddha icon at 65% off!

    This icon is supposed to turn greener with age. I had a friend who has a similar jade stone and described this happened with her stone. She said when she first got her jade stone, it was completely white. Now it's all light green. This took ten years.

    My jade stone is nearly all white with a little green in it. I'm looking forward to seeing it slowly turn green with age.

    Doing some background research, I discovered that jadedite has copper in it. As you wear the jade, presumably the copper rusts from skin perspiration and slowly turns green.

  • Random Thought.

      The average income of a person in China ranges from 1,200RMB to 2,000RMB per month. Yes, I did ask people about their income. In China, it is not considered rude to ask how much you make. Of course, the cost of living is much lower here than in the USA.

      An average 3 bedroom/2 bath house cost about $300,000RMB. This is a bargain! Actually, depending on what type of work you do, the government may subsidize your housing.

The Next Day China 1999 My Writings Al's Wild Web Page

Write to me
Last updated : November 8, 1999
Copyright 1999 Al Wong, Los Angeles, California, USA
All Rights Reserved