May 8th began with a 5:00 wake up call so that the group would be packed and ready to leave at 6:15 for our flight to Xi’an. A good portion of the group had gone back to the 80th floor lounge last night to enjoy the drinks, views and jazz, so 5:00 came extra early for some.
After a quick breakfast and trip to the airport, we took a short domestic flight to Xi’an where we were met by Jing, our guide for the next few days.
Our group travels have had very few glitches to date, but today was our first scare when Brent’s bag didn’t show up on the baggage carousel. Luckily it was found after a quick stop at the baggage inquiry and with some help from Edy.
Our group was upgraded from the Grand Mercure to the Sofitel, so xi’an had our best accommodations on the trip.
After checking in, our group left for a company visit with Chensson Properties. Alex Sun, the CEO of Chensson, is a U of A alumni who moved back to Xi’an to take over the company that his father started in 2001. Alex was an awesome host! Upon arrival at a hotel near his current development project, we were greeted with a large sign welcoming the U of A MBA students, desserts and refreshments, and a quick talk and Q&A about Chensson. The company has now built over 4,000,000 square feet of properties, and is looking to diversify into retirement communities, tourist developments, and cultural-based developments.
Alex brought us to his current project, Glory Manor, after the presentation. We were greeted by the entire Chensson management team and toured the residential and commercial sales centres.
After visiting the construction site and experiencing rush hour traffic in Xi’an, Alex took us to have dinner at the Tea House in Xi’an owned by the property company. Dinner was a delicious buffet with a selection of local Xi’an food.
After supper, the group decided to take a stroll to check out the wonderful sights and sounds of Muslim quarters. It was packed with people! Eating some of these dishes would be quite an adventure, especially the ones with meat. It was all very colourful and many people took photos in front of the Bell Tower.
Finally, we ended the evening by “filling” a disco bar! There were two awesome live bands and in between sets, our group would still fill the dance floor. The owner of the bar was so happy he offered us several bottles of vodka to come back the next night! It was a night we will all remember…mostly remember I guess.