October 22, 2013 – Xian
We arrived in Xian in the evening and went straight to our hotel, a Hilton – like the one in Beijing it was first class. My breakfast was still holding up, so I skipped the Chinese buffet, in favor of an early bedtime.
Also like the hotel in Beijing, there was a giant picture window between the bedroom and the bathroom. What is that about??? In the picture it looks like a mirror, but it’s not – it is a window (thankfully with a shade that pulls down.
In the morning, we were treated to another American style breakfast buffet, and then headed out for our first stop, The Wild Goose Pagoda. Along the way, I couldn’t resist this sign – I wish we had time to go inside and get the story.
Xian, while not as large as Beijing or Shanghai, at 8.5 million is still a sizeable city. Founded in the 11th century BC, it was one of important ancient capitals of China, being the seat of 14 dynasties. Recently, Xian has become a tourist destination with the discovery of the Terra Cotta Warriors.
Our first stop was The Wild Goose Pagoda, an active Buddhist Temple. I didn’t quite catch the story behind the name – something about Buddha praying for food and a goose falling from the sky.
With this picture you can begin to see the smog in the area, which we begin to see in Beijing, and which has gotten much worse here in Xian, as you will see from the pictures.
As we approached the Temple, the drums and bells sounded and the monks and other believers trooped in for services.
I particularly enjoyed the god of wealth and success.
Dennis herded us together for our trip to the Terra Cotta Warriors.
Some farmers digging a well discovered the Terra Cotta Warriors in 1974. Subsequent archeological work in the area, eventually uncovered some 9000 warriors in three different pits.
The Warriors are located about a mile from the mausoleum of the Emperor who had them begun, upon ascending to rule in approximately 246 BC, intending to have then protect him in the afterlife.. He was Emperor Qin, the first of a Dynasty and the first to unite China. The warriors are each different, no two alike, they all have mustaches and or beards. Contrary to popular belief, almost all of them were found in pieces and over the years have been painstakingly reassembled. When the Qin dynasty was overthrown, the peasants stormed the pits, smashing the warriors and looting their bronze weapons, and burning the rafters of the pits, causing the warriors to remain buried for over 2000 years.
This is the state of the warriors after excavation and before reassembly.
When I asked about the square toes on the soldiers boots, I was told that this was not a sculptors “short cut”, that the soldiers of that time in China, had boots which were squared off so they would fit either foot, left or right, saving time when dressing quickly.
When first discovered, it was clear that the warriors were brightly painted, but the paint faded rapidly in the air, causing many of the warriors to be reburied until some method of preserving the colors is found.
This kneeling warrior is extremely well preserved and has been moved to a glass case in the museum. It was the only one found in one piece.
Leaving the area of the Terra Cotta Warriors we drove back into Xian to visit the city wall of Xian which surrounds the central city in a nine mile rectangle. It is considered the best preserved city wall in the world, and is somewhat of a local destination, serving as a jogging path and bicycling path around the city, free of traffic concerns. There are several lookout houses and archer houses along the wall.
Notice the smog in this shot from atop the wall. The pictures don’t quite show how really thick it was.
Your intrepid travelers, on the wall.
After a brief stop at the hotel we were off to another delicious Chinese family style dinner, and a performance of a Tang Dynasty Chinese musical. My excitement is beyond description!
The beer was excellent. Back to the hotel for some rest – tomorrow we fly to Hong Kong to re-board the ship, which we left in Shanghai.