Welcome back to my “Throwback Travels” series, where I take you back to some of my travels prior to 2013, before having started this blog. I’ve already touched on parts of Europe and the U.S. that I’ve been to, and so this week will be dedicated to Asia, specifically, China which I visited twice in 2009 and 2011.
I’ve already shown you my visit to Beijing in the previous post, so today, we’re moving on to Xi’an (西安). Pronounced “she-ahn,” this city is located southwest of China’s capital and is home to the famous Terracotta Warriors during the Qin dynasty.
We left Beijing early in the morning, taking a flight down to Xi’an. The ride was short, less than two hours (which beats having to drive for hours all the way down; China is bigger than you think!). We had lunch at the airport’s buffet (a buffet at an airport? Unheard of!) where we were actually treated to a lovely demonstration of a chef making handmade noodles, slapping them down and doing a little performance for us. I love noodles, especially fresh ones, and it was so cool to see them being made right in front of me! I’m told that Xi’an cuisine is rather spicy, but when I tried it, I found it to be just medium heat…which is quite interesting, because I’m a total wuss when it comes to handling spicy food! 😛
After lunch, we began our tour of Xi’an. First, we were taken to the tomb of the fourth Han emperor at the Yangling Mausoleum. We were taken underground, where we saw lots of little earth statues of people, animals, and other objects made back in the day. Interesting and all, but it felt like sort of a prelude to the Terracotta Warriors, which we would be visiting the following day.
Next, we went to visit the “Big Wild Goose Pagoda,” which is a large pagoda built way back in the 7th century during the Ming dynasty. It’s one of the icons of the city and offers a wonderful view of Xi’an itself.
By the time we finished touring the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, night was falling. Our tour guide took us to a restaurant that once again served us regional Xi’an cuisine. It was hotpot that contained cabbage and rice, cooked in animal bones for a richer and thicker texture. Turned in afterwards in our hotel, resting up before heading over to the Terracotta warriors the following day!
We woke up the following day, had breakfast, and then headed straight over to visit the Terracotta warriors. We stayed in the exhibition for over two-and-a-half hours, walking a lot and admiring how these warriors have survived for over 2000 years. Most of them have been restored, but many still remain in ruins or are still being excavated. No two warriors look the same, as each has a different hairstyle and facial structure.
We had lunch afterwards before heading to the Xi’an Art Museum, home to a wide collection of art and artifacts from many of the Chinese dynasties. From the Neolithic period to the Qing dynasty of the 20th century, we spent two hours looking through many potteries, stone statues, weapon artifacts, and paintings in the museum. So much history packed into such a short time, but I got to learn a bit more about my ancestor’s history, dating back all the way back, century after century.
We had an early dinner, again with some Xi’an specialities. Had a pork belly bun (肉夹馍), which is a local dish, as well as noodle soup and other medium-spicy food (as previous stated). Not bad, but I did find it to be a bit salty. Afterwards, we turned in for the day, after a long day of museums and exploring tons of ruins and history in the city.
Overall, Xi’an was touristy, but offered tons of rich Chinese history in terms of dynasties that spanned tens of thousands of centuries. I am of Chinese descent, and so visiting all of these places in person made the experience even more enriching, more so than if I had just learned it all in history class back in school (Westernized, of course, since I’m from the U.S.).
In any case, we had spent no more than one night in the lovely city of Xi’an. We were to move on to our next destination in China (and subsequently our last stop on our 2009 trip). Final stop: Guilin, China! 😀
— The Finicky Cynic
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