|Today is our last day in Xi'an - we leave tomorrow to go back to Pingliang. The next two weeks are very busy so we should be seeing lots of interesting sights on our way to Beijing.
We visited the Muslim Quarter again today and had a look around the Folk House, originally the home of Gao Yuesong who was a bureaucrat from many years ago and is now an art gallery. Our visit started with a tea ceremony where we could try different types of tea, then a guided tour around the house. It has been well restored and it was quite interesting to see all the old artifacts around the place. Our guide spoke good English too.
After this we went on to the Great Mosque, one of the largest mosques in China. It has a huge Chinese influence - the minaret in the centre actually looks like a pagoda - and all the buildings and the gardens have a distinct Chinese feel about them. The mosque was apparently founded in the 8th century and is still in use.
This evening we took a bus trip out to the Big Goose Pagoda, outside the old city walls. This pagoda was built in 652AD to store the Buddhist manuscripts brought back from India by the monk Xuan Zang. Those of you who are not too young may remember the TV series Monkey Magic - this was based on an old Chinese book about Xuan Zang's travels to India and the three disciples who protected him along the way, one of whom was the Monkey King.
After spending an hour looking round the pagoda and gardens we found a restaurant and had something to eat before heading to the many fountains on the approach to the pagoda for the fountain and music show. The fountains were synchronised with the music and coloured lights and it made a spectacular display. It was fun just watching, also watching the Chinese who started dancing in the fountains and got soaking wet! That's one way to cool off!
Now we're back at our hotel for our last night (and last western breakfast for a while). We leave on our new truck at 10am tomorrow for a big drive day.