More than 6000 years of
civilization have been found around the walled city of Xi'an, and many
exhibits are available to the visitor - the Terra Cotta warriors are their
This is a must-see in China.
We reached it after an overnight train-ride from Beijing. We
arrived early in the morning, and hitched a ride to the city with a group of
nuclear physicists. The Terra Cotta Warrior site itself is
amazing. 2000 years ago a Qin dynasty emperor decreed that an army of pottery warriors be
built and arrayed around his tomb to protect him in the after-life. This
army was discovered accidentally by a peasant in 1974, and about 10% of the site
has been excavated to date. Three armory-sized buildings cover the excavation
sites, where the clay statues, all broken over the years as the sites collapsed,
are painstakingly reassembled. As an aside, the peasant today autographs your
souvenir picture book with large Chinese characters and a flourish.
Bampo Neolithic Village - a village
dating from 6000 years ago showing evidence of fire, pottery, houses, burial
rites, and food storage schemes.
Forest of Steles Museum - a
collection of steles (engraved stones with poems and history) dating to Confucius
and providing a permanent history of the evolution of Chinese
calligraphy. Some are close to 2000 years old, and they were collected
in one place as a means to preserve them. Most of the stones are very
regular and highly polished, showing a high degree of skill when they were
made. A local worker showed us how to make rice-paper rubbings with no
damage to the stones.
Big Goose Pagoda - a set of 5 Buddhist
temples and a pagoda, the prettiest we have seen with magnificent carvings
and beautiful grounds. The faithful make offerings at the many incense
burners in front of the temples, and a monk strikes a gong when a monetary
offering is made.
Bell Tower, Drum Tower, and Great
Mosque - interesting cultural spots around the city, plus a tour of the City
Wall that surrounds this medieval city.
Local Opera Singers - Walking around
the City Wall, we stopped to listen to some locals practice their
opera skills - and found we were expected to vote, with our pocketbooks, for
the singers we liked. We were the only Westerners in sight, and were
treated as minor celebrities. They also insisted on having their
pictures taken with Judi, and the results were good. After donating a few Yuan to each of the
singers (we did not want to play favorites) we waved farewell to our
new-found friends, and marveled at how we could communicate with a few
hand-signs and goodwill.
Travel Agent Par
Excellance - While in Xi'an
we met Mr. Ren Ming, with Golden
Bridge Travel Agency at our hotel, the Bell Tower Hotel. From then on he
provided outstanding service, both by making hotel and train bookings, as well
as negotiating over the phone with hotels when we arrived and had problems.
Next adventure, another train trip, this time to Wuhan
and a river adventure.