Emma smiles as she lays in bed after waking up. She’s always a cheerful person, but for the third day she says she has a headache, and Emma is not one to feign or exaggerate symptoms.
Somewhat impulsively, I decide to take her temperature. I don’t really think anything is wrong except a little sleep depravation and maybe a little too much sun.
It’s a good thing I did. She’s running a 103 fever. Shit.
My medical kit
We’ve been fortunate on our travels that no one has gotten severely sick in a long time. In 2005, Emma and I were both pretty sick with a stomach illness in Ixtapa, Mexico. But that was at a resort and there was little consequence except discomfort.
Our time will come, however. One can’t avoid the gods forever. China has a reputation for being difficult for Westerners that need medicine or medical attention, mostly because of the language barrier. But there can be long waits and high costs too, I’ve read.
So I packed a larger-than-usual first aid/medicine kit, including a thermometer, antibiotics and a solid mix of medicine a family might need on a trip. (I have the list somewhere and will post it sometime.)
I’m grateful for it today. Emma is pretty weak. I give her some Advil and Tylenol to start. If it keeps up we’ll start antibiotics tomorrow.
A day at the hotel.
We cancel everything except our evening event, the Tang Dynasty dinner and dance show. We were going to go to the Shanxii museum and the big Pagoda today, but I guess those will have to wait for the next time we are in Xi’an.
Emma and Lily watch films all morning. I always bring a lot of digital movies that they can watch on the computer. There is always a film we remember from each trip because they watched it so many times. In Morocco it was Hairspray. In Peru, it was Ice Age 3. This time Lily is watching Bratz, the movie, over and over.
Today I insist that Emma watch E.T. She has always resisted watching it, because it’s such an old movie and she doesn’t trust me. But I know she’ll like it. Sure enough, she’s weeping at the end and cheering when E.T. gets away.
Trish sleeps for three hours in the middle of the day. I guess she is tired too. Lily and I go out in the middle of the day to get lunch at KFC. It’s our second time eating there in 24 hours, but it’s the easiest place to get French fries, which is all Emma wants to eat right now.
Lily and I cross the square in front of the Big Goose Pagoda. The sun is hot and the pollution is heavy outside at midday. There is another water fountain music performance, identical to the one we went to last night.
KFC has mostly the same menu as in the US, not that we go there a lot. Although there is an interesting ice cream dessert topping that appears to have different kinds of beans in it.
After we eat, Emma, Lily and Trish go downstairs to the massage place and get massages in the afternoon. Emma seems to be doing okay, although she is definitely sluggish. She likes the foot massage, as does Lily. The masseuse cracks up at Lily’s tiny legs.
While Europe was recovering from the dissolution of the Roman Empire and beginning the long period referred to as the Dark Ages, China enjoyed it’s pinnacle of ‘modern’ civilization – a golden age of cosmopolitan culture.
The Tang’s (pronounced more like Tong) capital was Xi’an (Cheng’an in those days) which was the most populated city in the world at the time. China’s ability to grow massive population safely (80 million toward the end of the period) was a massive military, political and economic advantage they used to fend off the Mongols, retain control of the Silk road and extend Chinese civilization to Japan, Korea and Vietnam.
The Tang continued and expanded the concept of professional burocracy, adopted Buddihsm and promoted some of the greatest poets and artists in Chinese history. The Tang period is akin to the renaissance in Europe.
Dumplings commemorate the Tang dynasty.
And so with some embarrassment, we are attending a cheesy music and dance show called “Tang Dynasty” that is supposed to commemorate the greatness of the Tang with a one hour show where they serve goofy dumplings in the shape of the animal the mashed meat is made from.
These ‘Tang Dynasty” shows are a staple for tour groups in Xi’an and are conducted in English and Chinese. They are expensive, almost $50 a person, and are so popular that there are now multiple ‘Tang Dynasty” shows one can go to. Some people on trip advisor say the original is the best, but this might be splitting hairs. I’m pretty sure we are at a knock-off version tonight.
You can order a 6 course Chinese meal, a dumpling meal with 10 different kinds or a show-only ticket. We read that the dinner tickets come with better seats, and that seems to be true. Large tour groups fill the large tables in front. We are at the front of a distant balcony.
Lily falls asleep immediately and Emma shortly thereafter. It’s not great. The only thing of interest are the costumes and the live music. The dancing, as Trish points out, is mostly twirling. She likes it however, because she loves dance. For the money I would not recommend the Tang Dynasty dinner.
We discover on our way out that we (apparently) did not secure a return taxi as part of this deal. And we forgot to get a hotel card with directions in Chinese – a big mistake in China! I know our hotel is close to the Shanxii museum and direct the driver there, so it’s not a big deal. But the drivers in China really don’t speak a word on English, even the major sites and hotel names.
Hopefully Emma is feeling better tomorrow. We fly to Dunhuang, far up the silk road toward Central Asia and have a big few days ahead of us before we go to Beijing for a week on Monday.