Yesterday was quite a day. Let’s just start with the fact that the temperature got to 110 degrees Fahrenheit!!!!!! I have never sweated so much, and I mean sweated ( as opposed to the more refined perspired) in my life! One Chinese phrase that I have down pat is: eee ping shway ( one bottle water) which I purchase any time I can. We learned that the Chinese government is reluctant to post the real temperature b/c if the temperature reaches 100 they have to send everyone home from their jobs, paid for the day. The official temperature yesterday on government sites, did not post 100+ temperatures. Anyway, we started the day out yesterday morning with a 9 mile bike ride (!) on the ancient city wall of Xi’an, the foundations of which were built during the Tang Dynasty ( 618-907 AD). Xi’an is considered the ” cradle” of Chinese civilization- and the eastern terminus of the Silk Road. Today, it is a huge city with huge construction cranes ( called the ” birds of China”) all over. It hadn’t reached 110 degrees yet but it was hot!! We then went back to the hotel to refresh ( take a shower to rinse off rivers of sweat) and then lunch- another delicious assortment of about 20 dishes we all share placed on a lazy Susan and then off to a Buddhist temple and pagoda ( Cheng’en Temple and the Wild Goose Pagoda) – we saw the Buddhist monks ( and nuns) chanting in the temple- very accessible – we weren’t allowed in but we could stand outside to view and were allowed to take pictures. Five of our group of 16 climbed the pagoda – ( nine flights of stairs?) but the rest of us chose to opt out. The heat was brutal- the climbers are masochistic, but heroes! Then we took our air conditioned bus, thank god- back to the hotel where some of us continued the itinerary ( including me) and some chose to retreat to the air conditioned refuge of our hotel. We went to the Muslim quarter of Xi’an to view the Green Mosque- a beautiful peaceful oasis in the middle of the city. Xi’an’s Muslim population is quite large. We finished our day shopping in the adjacent Muslim bazaar, an astounding warren of alleys chock full of vendors selling everything. On our way back to the hotel ( within walking distance) we came upon a police raid of vendors who weren’t licensed and it was chaos! People yelling, throwing their wares on their carts, covering them with blankets, and then > rolling them in a panic through the crowds of people. I was in a group of four, but the melee separated us. By the time we got back to the hotel, it was around 9pm. Exhausted – a Big Mac ( McDonald’s is right across the street)- to bed. Today, we are packing to return by overnight train to Beijing ( 12 hours). We are all praying that the train will be better than the last one. We’ve been told it is air conditioned which is an immense relief. Before we take the train we will visit one of China’s most famous museums here in Xi’an – the Shaanxi. Incommunicado on the train- and when we arrive in Beijing we have to go to language class almost right away.