Posts Tagged ‘ xi’an ’

On Xi’an

(I wanted to buy this, but it was 50 USD, which, while not very expensive offended my standards for what is an acceptable price for things in China. Illogical in the long run, but it keeps the luggage to bring back a bit lighter. That is one handsomely painted camel though.)

So far, I far prefer Xi’an over Beijing and it probably isn’t because of the charm of the local dialect, though there is something sort of fetching about it. Beijing is great and lively, but Xi’an seems to have more character of its own through the Hui’s halal restaurants, historical sites and older architecture.

To some extent, this is unfair; this attitude conflates culture and character with lack of development and new buildings. When we talk about local flair, it seems like what the tourist wants is essentially either the great poverty or great wealth of older times, just as when we talk about Chinese art, what foreigners tend to value is something that “could only have come out of China.

(Willy Tsao, the director for the Beijing LDTX dance company, once noted that when his company performs modern dance for Western audiences, they’re often put off that there doesn’t seem to be anything distinctively Chinese about the performances, so to please the audience he would have to add in some Chinese Opera masks or some other cliched flair.* These unreasonable expectations for what constitutes culture are offensive, but this tourist admits to understanding.

Tsao, by the way, is an amazing orator able to persuasively speak about complicated ideas in very straightforward language. Orwell would’ve loved him.)