01.08.2014 - 02.08.2014 36 °C
Wow! Just wow! What a day in Xian.
First, your Chinese lesson - Xi'an is one of the most ancient Chinese cities, steeped in history. Xi is west and an is peace so Xi'an is called the Western Peaceful city. Bei is north as in Beijing, Nan is south as in Nanjing and Dong is east as in Pudong (the name of the Shanghai Airport). Now you know!
Our day started with an hour long drive to the Terra Cotta Warrior Museum. In 1974 a simple farmer was digging a well and he unearth a piece of a terra cotta warrior. These warriors were made to protect the Qin Emperor in the afterlife some 2200 years ago. What they discovered in the coming years was an archeological dig with worldwide significance. They believe they have only uncovered less than half of the 6000 warriors buried underground.
Each warrior is unique and ranges from the lowest ranking soldier to the generals. Unfortunately, all the pieces are broken. Only one kneeling archer with recovered in one piece. So it is like the most gigantic puzzle to put these all back together. The scope of this project is overwhelming and hard to describe. We visited the three buildings, saw all the sites and bought the book about the site, and had it duly signed by the farmer who discovered the site.
In his late 70's now he works at the Museum signing the books. I hope he is getting paid by the book because in China no one owns the land so he did not profit in any way from his monumental discovery.
Upon my arrival home I found that there is some discussion as to whether the person signing our books is the original farmer. Perhaps not.....
Our next adventure came upon our return to the hotel. No, we didn't go for a rest. We ventured into the city, destination Muslim Street. The first challenge was to get there. Yes, we had an Amazing Race experience hiring a tuktuk (small open air taxi/scooter) to take us there. Driving, walking and generally getting around is crazy. Walk signs mean absolutely nothing. I happened to have my video on as we careened towards Muslim Street.
What an authentic area of Xi'an. Food vendors, people making noodles, walnuts being opened, and counterfeit goods to be sold were all a part of the experience. Marty got a steal of a deal buying not one, but three Mont Blanc fountain pens for 30.00. We passed on the pedicure where the fish in the foot bath nibble the dead skin off your toes!
The other fun part of being Caucasian is how the people stare and take pictures. The little kids are especially wondrous of us and have no problem staring for minutes on end. It is fun to say hi to them in Chinese. They are soooooo cute.
We finished our evening at the outstanding Tang Dynasty Dinner show. We were treated to a traditional concert, colourful costumes, unique Chinese instruments and a bit of a history lesson.
Xi'an is a walled city so on our way back we got great views of the walls which are all lit up at night, including the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower which were used to alert the gatekeepers it was time to open the gate in the morning (bell) and close it at night (drum).
We are sad to leave our luxurious room here at the Hilton. The service and food were not as good at the Ritz Carlton. Next stop the Regent Hotel in Beijing.