Xining Revisted

Nicholas Quirke was sensing his trip to the west of China was coming to an end on 7 October 2020. Xining was the penultimate stop before they headed back to Beijing and he had to begin preparing for the next phase of his stay. He was feeling a little down and this was not helped by the fact that he had the symptoms of a full blown cold coursing through him. Sore throat, sneezing, runny nose, low energy levels and travelling in this condition was not a pleasant experience. It was another day when they had a flight in the late afternoon which, meant there was time to explore the city. They planned to see the Beichan Toulou Temple, a Taoist site at the foot of a barren hill where there were more cave temples and shrines of 1700 years old as well as a pagoda and amazing views of the city. After returning the car which was really dirty they returned to the hotel where bags were packed and they checked out. Before the temple they went to the restaurant Peng had wanted to try to get a booking, but once again it’s was full and meant waiting. Instead they bought Barley cakes to take away which, were delicious. The temple was free and it soon became apparent why. The caves and the Hanging Temple were closed as much of the site seemed to be under reconstruction. Nicholas was slightly relieved as he was not looking forward to the steep climb in his ailing condition. What they did see was colourful and touching. He also was able to photograph and record some of the interiors for Jess who had been asking what they were like inside. He felt inspired to follow some of the rituals that he witnessed being practiced, encountered a litter of pups running round the Ming Dynasty Linguan Hall, and endured an awkward moment when a groundsman told Peng to wear his face mask but as no other visitors were asked he made a fuss and started telling them to put on masks before advising the culprit that he had helped him let the other visitors know. He particularly liked the reason for the existence of the Lingguan Hall which, was dedicated to a Song Dynasty personage who ‘hated injustice like poison, praised virtue and punished vice, removing evil and magic’. They took a walk along the Huangshui river which they had seen flowing fiercely further upstream but here there had been a variety of creative landscaping solutions to slow the water’s rush into the Yellow River. The temperature was cold, and he had started to feel really down with the cold and though he had been taking some medication it was not helping him recover. After collecting their bags from the hotel and saying goodbye to the doorman who had taken a shine to him, they headed to the airport to get a flight to Xi’an. He was a little disappointed as he had thought he would have more time in Xi’an and was hoping to visit the Opera House and meet some of the people he had met in Suzhou but the time was limited and he was feeling really sick, though he allowed himself once they had arrived to go and see the Tang Pagoda and eat out. As they didn’t arrive till after 8 pm it was a rush and once they were out it was extremely crowded, the worst he had seen it. His memories of Xi’an from 2018 were of packed subways, worse than London at rush hour, and queues to get onto the trains and it felt like nothing had changed. The night sights were good, but Peng realised the mistake in going out as there had been some immense concert in the area they were in. They managed to find cycles and get back to the hotel. Medication had been ordered and he took it as soon as it arrived. His breath was short, his nose stuffed, his coughing and sneezing worse but he still managed to fall asleep.


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