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Photo by Rebecca Davis

A young boy sneaks a peak at visitors in Wei Zhuan.

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While cars quickly become the primary mode of transportation in large cities, the bike is still king in Wei Zhuan.

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A fishmonger in a Xian outdoor marketplace takes a rest in the afternoon heat.

Safety Is as Safety Does

 “You don’t need that,” Xian taxi driver Chang Xumin remarked sharply, as I reached for my passenger seatbelt. “It’s very safe, really.” He apparently took offense at the thought that I might need a seatbelt in his cab, but the prospect of riding beltless in Chinese traffic persuaded me to buckle up anyway. Chang clucked a few times and sped off, narrowly missing an old woman who was slowly crossing the street.

Tai Chi Helps Seniors Live Fuller Lives

Huang Tonxi says the stroke he suffered 22 years ago left half his body paralyzed. Today the 72-year-old moves almost like a ballet dancer as he practices tai chi ball, a variation of the ancient Chinese form of self-defense, tai chi. Huang moves in circles practicing the routines he claims helped him regain mobility after his illness. His eyes, as in a trance, follow the ball that dances on the racquet. He sustains the movements for more than 15 minutes, at times slowing down only to execute yet another swirling circle.

Scenes from a Xian Snack Street

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Streets filled with fruit, vegetable and snack vendors are common scenes in China, which is rich with distinctive sights, smells and sounds. I discovered this particular street, a popular student hangout, across from Shanxi Tiyu University near Xian's city center.

One Big Christian Family

Late one afternoon, our giant charter bus rolled into a quiet town two hours northeast of Xian to explore life outside the urban centers in China. What we found was, in my opinion, a level of hospitality unmatched thus far in our travels. After finishing a delicious dinner prepared by a group of local women, we took a slow stroll to the town’s only Christian church, escorted by the cunzhang, "village head."

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