The past three days have been a whirlwind. On Wednesday morning I lectured to Sun Yat-sen University School of Law graduate students about “Climate Policy and U.S.-China Relations.” We covered topics such as both countries carbon footprints and similar dependencies on fossil fuels, the recent international climate negotiations in Copenhagen and Cancun, cooperative efforts between the U.S. and China to improve energy efficiency technologies, and the domestic political limitations of both countries that hurt efforts for an international climate agreement.

After my lecture, we took a taxi to the airport and flew to the Xi’An. The airport is actually in Xianyang, the capital of the Qin Dynasty and home to the Chinese wedding that we attended. Upon arrival we had a wonderful dinner with the bride, groom, and bride’s parents. The food was excellent, including a noodle dish that certainly was the best I’ve ever tasted in my life; handmade noodles, egg, tofu, greens, onions, and a very spice sauce that was the key ingredient. (The Northwest Chinese cuisine was all around fantastic.)

The wedding banquet itself was a delightful experience held in a hotel banquet hall, and, while the event was celebratory, the experience was also heartwarming and emotional. The parents and children were extremely moved by the moment in a beautiful way. What we didn’t realize was that our family (the only foreigners at the event) would play an important role in the event. Our daughters were the flower girls, and my older daughter was also the ringbearer. I was asked to give a short speech as custom dictates that someone from both the bride and groom’s employer attend and say a few works. Since the bride and I are colleagues, I was the official Vermont Law School representative. I was honored.

On Friday, we woke up early to see Xi’An. It was a windy, cold and snowy day. We left the hotel at 7:30am for a drive into the countryside to see the Terracotta Warriors. We were the first to arrive and had noodles at a local noodle shop before seeing the amazing underground life-size Qin Dynasty statues. The scale is really unbelievable. We then went to see the X’An City Wall which was beautiful. Unfortunately it was too cold and windy to walk around too long. We drove by the Wild Goose Pagoda, and finally found a fancy hotel restaurant for lunch; all before returning to Guangzhou in the evening.

(I note this brief summary of events leaves out the true thrill of our China travels in Xianyang/Xi’An: locking ourselves out of our hotel room; our wonderful guide and driver; driving the wrong way on a Chinese highway; crossing four lanes of traffic on foot; trying to find a restaurant for lunch; successfully getting on an early flight to Guangzhou even though boarding had already begun. These stories are better over drinks, though my partner usually blogs them well at vermont2china.)

As for final notes, (1) the air quality in Xianyang and Xi’An was the absolute worst I have ever seen in my life. A dust-filled haze filled the air, so strong and thick that it entered buildings, and (2) Fasten seat belts signs on Chinese airplanes have no meaning to the passengers.

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