Important: New web address for STP Editing

Moving to

Moving to “”

Hello everybody!

I will now be posting on a new website that, in most respects, is identical to this one. All that’s changed is the web address (URL). has now moved to

You’ll find all the old posts and information there on the new website. The reason for the change is to focus more on the professional/writing side of  things instead of the personal, which was what Mr Brookes Abroad was intended to be.

Please do visit the new site and be sure to click the Follow button to make sure you’re subscribed. All new posts will be on the new site, STP Editing, from now on.

All contact details remain the same and this won’t affect any ongoing projects.

I look forward to seeing you all on the new site!

—David Brookes


Photo Gallery: Xi’an Temple of the City Gods

Xi’an’s Temple of the City Gods is my new favourite place in the city.  Even though I only had a day and a half to explore the city, I came back to the temple a second time to explore the inner courtyards.

Xi’an is one of China’s ancient capital cities.  Its City God temple is known as one of the “big three” temples of its kind, the others being in Beijing and Nanjing, and is held in very high regard across China.  Officially the temple is about 600 years old, though it was largely destroyed by a fire in the early 1700s and rebuilt.

The inner courtyards have sheltered rooms on either side, housing minor gods and local heroes.  I think I read somewhere that a closed room in the centre of the courtyard holds a Buddha relic.  The main temple at the back of the inner courtyard holds a giant statue of the City God, who sits serenely with his eyes closed, protected by four mighty generals.  These statues are impressively carved, painted, and must be twenty feet high.

There are dozens of minor gods depicted in the temple.  One room has tiered shelves with a statue depicting each one.  Each are designated years of the Christian calender and are especially worshiped on the appropriate year.  Some are warrior types, others are scholars, doctors or spiritual role models.

I spent a few hours on the temple grounds, mainly looking inside the temples rather than entering them, and not taking photos as this was requested.  I watched a gangly, smiling monk fellow in black robes and traditional curly-toed shoes wander from statue to statue, offering prayers and stroking his beard.  He was from out of town and apparently delighted to be there.

Considering that just outside the walls of the compound is the bustling city centre, the grounds were a very quiet and peaceful place for me to meditate on the troubling events of the past week and try to come to terms with a disappointing venture.

2014.10.31 - Temple of the City Gods 042014.10.31 - Temple of the City Gods 112014.11.01 - Inside Temple of the City Gods 022014.11.01 - Inside Temple of the City Gods 042014.11.01 - Inside Temple of the City Gods 052014.11.01 - Inside Temple of the City Gods 102014.11.01 - Inside Temple of the City Gods 202014.11.01 - Inside Temple of the City Gods 14

The following photos weren’t taken by me, but pilfered off the internet.

City God Photos (not mine) 03City God Photos (not mine) 02City God Photos (not mine) 01— db

Introduction to Xi’an

The city I will be living and working in next month is Xi’an (usually pronounced “Shee-ahn”), which is in the Shaanxi province in Western China (Central, if you count Tibet…).  Xi’an means “Western Peace”.  Most Westerners know it for being the location of the Terracotta Army.

I visited the city in 2012 as part of my whirlwind tour of China and really liked the feel of the place.  The bigger cities, like Shanghai and Beijing, are ultra-modern with most of their history buried under Progress.  Xi’an has been modernised and is presented as a tourist-friendly place, but still feels very close to its history.

The city is over 6,000 years old (by comparison, London hasn’t yet had its 2,000th birthday) and is one of China’s Four Great Ancient Capitals.  The Silk Road starts here and connected China to India, Africa, Persia, Arabia and Europe as part of one of the world’s oldest and far-reaching trade routes.  Unlike most cities in China, Xi’an has a thriving Muslim population as well as the usual Buddhists and Daoists (Taoists).

The oldest part of the city is still contained within the ancient city walls, but the modern city spreads out far beyond this.  The old city is known for having maintained older Chinese architectural styles (or at least modern homages to them) as well as grand towers and pagodas that are big tourist attractions nearby.  When I visited in 2012, I got the chance to bicycle the circumference of the walls, which was great fun, but didn’t have much time to see most of what Xi’an is famous for, other than the Terracotta Army and the Muslim quarter.

Terracotta Army

Terracotta Army

One of the two central towers in the old town, the Bell Tower was built to suppress a destructive dragon (possibly)

One of the two central towers in the old town, the Bell Tower was built to suppress a destructive dragon (possibly)

The South Gate out of the old town

The South Gate out of the old town

Cycling along the top of the city wall was one of the highlights of my China visit

Cycling along the top of the city wall was one of the highlights of my China visit

Shopping streets

Like most of China, Xi’an is always bustling but much more peaceful than most

Although there probably won’t be much time for sight-seeing between teaching and lesson planning, I’m looking forward to exploring the rest of the city, meeting some of its people, and scoffing its tasty, varied food!