|We arrived in Xian, a college city of some 8 million people (including over 1 million students attending over 100 universities and colleges) at 6:15 a.m. and were met at the train station by a bus driver that was known as Happy Buddha due to his big stomach and always cheery disposition. We were taken to the City Hotel which was pretty much in the centre of Xian and were fortunate enough to get rooms that early in the morning. The inner city has a wall surrounding it which was the wall of the ancient city before it expanded to its present size. One can walk or cycle around its 14 kilometre perimeter and view the inner or outer part of Xian, depending on which side of the wall you are walking nearest to. We waited for the rest of the group to arrive and went for an orientation walk after which we had a free day to do as we pleased. Barb and I checked out a local bakery and sampled some of their tasty treats before heading to the "Bell Tower" and the "Drum Tower", two pagoda-like buildings in the centre of the city. We then walked thru a street market to see what all the vendors had for sale. In the evening most of the gang went out to a Chinese buffet restaurant which was very good. There weren't many signs in English as to what was what, so choosing dishes was a bit of challenge but we all managed to get full plates and even went back for seconds (and some of us for thirds)......