Let me begin this by mentioning the amazing meal we just had at a local restaurant. Our tour guide, “Jane”, recommended this place, and it was amazing. Tried some things that I have never eaten before, like bullfrog (amazing) and jellyfish (not bad, but crunchy consistency which I’m not a fan of). Lots of tofu as well. In China, they prepare tofu far better than in the states, so I’ve actually been getting into it a lot recently.
This morning we went to a Buddhist monastery up a mountain about 30 minutes from Xining. It was very ornate, and the whole time there were dud hits monks wandering around doing their daily duties. There were also a lot of visitors who were there praying, which was really incredible, as they were doing so outside, in about 10 degree weather. The amount of tenacity and respect these people have for their religion is really breathtaking, and made me think about my own beliefs a bit.
I couldn’t get too many pictures, but what I did get was awesome. There was a GIANT shrine made of two and a half tons of silver, lots of gold, and other precious metals. There were intricate tapestries, paintings, and sculptures everywhere. It was fantastic. Some of them were fairly scary two, like the one with eight heads, some on the front, some on the sides, and then one clown/dragon type head on top. All in all a good experience, though it is absolutely freezing here… And this isn’t even the coldest place we are going.
The concert was interesting on this night. We were apparently the first people to play in this brand new concert hall. One thing I have noticed about everywhere that we have played is the amazing lighting systems in the theatre and outside of it. Even in the buildings in all the cities, everything is lit up with bright lights and led animations. It’s really kind of amazing.
The timpani this night were some of the worse I have played yet. I spent about 25 minutes tuning them, and had to keep my foot on the pedal of the small drum (they gave me 32/23) to keep pitches. Did I mention that I was standing the whole time as well? Alas, it was the best concert the group has played yet. We are getting much tighter as an ensemble.
Back at the hotel, we went to a bar, that ended up being a cabaret like show. There was a synchronized dancing group wearing cowboy hats, and then various acts singing and dancing throughout the night. It was almost like we stepped into a Vegas show, except it was on the second floor of our hotel! Apparently a custom here is putting a white shawl on the singer’s head while he is performing if you like him, which some of the girls in the group partook in. We ended up meeting a large group of Chinese guys who were very nice and enamored by the fact that we were American. After the show was over, they invited us out, but we politely declined.
On a plane now to Beijing. Excited about that, but our time here will be cut short by about 10 hours, which is kind of depressing.