On the bus Lynn the tour manager let everyone know that it was my birthday, and they all sang Happy Birthday. Lynn presented me with a book of papercuts of pigs, as I was born in the year of the pig. Our Chinese guide then told us that it is a Chinese tradition to eat noodles on your birthday for longevity, and that we would be able to have some at lunchtime.
We went to the Small Wild Goose Pagoda. There were lots of people doing Tai Chi throughout the different areas of the park. I climbed the pagoda with some of the others, and just about gave up close to the top when I started to feel really claustrophobic, but I’m glad that I persevered as the view was well worth it. My legs ached later, though!
The park the pagoda was in was beautiful, but the toilets were not! I really had to go, though, so I had to crouch over a Chinese style toilet behind a half-height door.
We went on to a jade factory where I treated myself to a jadeite laughing Buddha pendant. We then had a look around the Shaanxi Museum. I wished that I had taken my sketchbook into the museum because I would have had plenty time to sit down and draw.
When Lynn told us that we were going back to the Tang Dynasty Theatre to have lunch, I had some idea of what to expect after Freda’s birthday. After we had eaten a buffet lunch (including some noodles for longevity, of course) I heard Happy Birthday being played and saw a huge cake being brought in. It was decorated with pink flowers and crystallised kiwi fruit. The waitresses cleared space for the cake in front of me then added a plastic lotus blossom which when lit opened up to reveal the candles for me to blow out. I cut the cake with the large knife then had my photo taken with one of the girls who had brought it in. I was also presented with two sets of souvenir drinks stirrers.
In the afternoon we went to the city walls of Xi’an. We were lucky to be visiting when the walls were decorated for the lantern festival. There were dozens of brightly coloured lantern installations. We then flew back to Beijing and spent the night there.
The following morning we were off to the airport again. We had a little time for shopping, and I was delighted to find two types of Guerlain’s Cherry Blossom perfume.
We landed at Heathrow at about 2.30pm, and I had a long wait for my flight to Edinburgh which was due to leave at 8.45pm. But due to high winds there were long delays, and I eventually got on the plane at 10.30 and it took off an hour later and arrived in Edinburgh at about 12.30. My parents were waiting for me at the airport, and by the time we had waited for my luggage and driven home it was 2am!