The Tang Dynasty Opera

We got up around 8.30 and one by one braved the smelly bathroom. We have worked out that it’s the water that stinks but although I’m reluctant to shower in it we force ourselves in.. We have decided to make our way into town to a traveller’s hostel that was recommended but unfortunately full and arrange our trip to see the Terracotta Army from there. The hostel turns out to be great with very friendly staff and loads of information. We can’t resist asking for a price and when we find out they now have rooms available for 9 pounds each we decide to sod the expense and move.

We have some breakfast in their cafe and then head back to The Fenghe International Youth Hostel. We pack up our gear, pay them half of the cost of tonight’s bed and check out. The kids are pleased, there were no facilities there for travellers and when I braved the local laundry I was a bit upset to see our clothes return dyed yellow.

We arrive back at The Han Tang Inn Hostel and to the kid’s dismay tell them we have to do some schoolwork. Since the middle of our holiday in Vietnam we have been very slack and I explain to them that we have to crack on with it. They actually do ok and I break them in gently with some literacy (Their favourite lesson). They write out the answers to some questions I set them about China and then write the introduction to a story about the train journey from Xian to Chengdu in the style of a horror writer.

Maisie and I go shopping. We buy a few things and I discard some of our clothes that are now knackered. In all honesty I wasn’t that upset to see them returned ruined, it has given us an excuse to buy some new things! We have a great time practising our Chinese with our trusty phrasebook.

We arrange a night out at the theatre tonight, a huge expense but it looks really great and we’re all excited about going. The Tang Dynasty (610-907 AD) was one of the most splendid periods in Chinese history symbolising China and its vitality and I have read this performance is unforgettable. At 8pm we leave for the theatre and are soon settled at our table eating popcorn and drinking wine-hurray!

The opera is described as an over the top spectacle of traditional dance, music and singing and its absolutely wonderful. I’ve only been to the opera once in England and walked out at half time but this is lovely. So beautiful, graceful and elegant that I cried during some of the dances. My favourite pieces were the masked warrior dance where the fearsome warriors scare off ghosts and demons, the dance of the girls in the spring fields and The Feather Dance. The English announcement explained that the first emperor of The Tang Dynasty was very musical and following a dream of celestial beauties he composed this piece of music and then gave it to his favourite concubine who created The Feather Dance for him.

We all loved it and Simon and I were so pleased that Ali and Maisie also enjoyed it so much. It seemed to me to be, the most Chinese of everything we have done here so far and a completely memorable experience.

Back at our hostel. Sweet smelling bathroom. We arrange to visit the warriors tomorrow, unfortunately the bus turns out to be full and we are informed that we can hire the hostel car for the day instead at a cost of Y300. This may turn out for the best as we don’t like being part of a tour group anyway and it will be more flexible this way. It is slightly cheaper anyway, definitely a winner.

Off to bed now. Feeling very excited about tomorrow. Tonight I feel at last I am beginning to fall in love with China. It has taken a while but I am feeling a lot more comfortable now and looking forward to the rest of our China adventure.