Xi'an is a big, noisy Chinese city. Central Asia definitely lies to the west. I wander through some plastic curtains in one building, and it looks like Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge (London). One whole floor is devoted to cosmetics. I spin on my heels and get out of there fast, perhaps by fear of seeing how awful I look. What else about Xi'an? Out to see the Terra Cotta Warriors. With 6 million visitors a year, it's a zoo. I can't help but think one good earthquake would knock the whole business over like ten pins. The funniest moment is the farmer who originally discovered the "warriors" back in the 1970s now sits prominently in one of the many gift shops, signing his autograph. He wears a pair of sunglasses that covers half his face. No photos allowed. The other peasants in his village must be so jealous.
An English and a German girl on my bus recognize me from back in Bukhara. We chat like the road hardened warriors we are on what was in Central Asia. Re-entry has already begun.
Ever wonder what life is like in your own country? In keeping with the traditions of the region, in Pamistan I have already declared myself president for life. However, freedom of thought, ideas, and speech is encouraged. Blogger isn't banned (or the BBC news). Inhabitants are as wonderfully open, unaffected, and hospitable as the Central Asians. Anybody else who wants to come needs a Letter of Invitation and a visa, approved by the president. Good luck.
Architecture is as grand as Samarkand's; houses look like the courtyard houses of Bukhara and are carpeted with rugs from Turkmenistan. The spectacular scenery looks like Kyrgystan. Air conditioning is Chinese. Food is imported. All toilets flush.
I do have a few regulations in Pamistan. They are:
Pedestrians may use a swift kick with their boot into the side of any car that tries to run them down.
Taxi drivers or any merchant or customs official who try to cheat tourists will be taken to the nearest stadium and beaten with sticks.
Employees in service positions do not play Tetris in front of waiting customers.
Gold teeth are banned.
I'll think of some more later...
Thanks so much for your comments and e-mails; they're really appreciated! (Home on 18 August)
Out with the guys