|Xian is the capital of Shaanxi Province. I arrived from
Pingyao after 11 hour on the night train. Already getting used to the hard sleeper.
Xian is a important historical
place in China. It was the first imperial capital, founded by
the emperor of Qin.
glorious days was from 221 BC until the Song dynasty in 10th century, when the
capital was moved. Today Xian is mostly known for the ancient terracotta
army, created by the Qin emperor.
No problem to find a hotel in Xian. Here a
dubble was 100 Yuan. Should have bargained more. Nice rooms, but communal squat toilets and
showers. Tooth brushing I had to do in the cleaners sink. But that's
China. I stayed here for 4 nights.
Xian Train Station
Like Pingyao, Xian also has a city wall, though, it's not complete.
Yet. They are at the moment intensively building on the wall to make it surround the
whole inner city. A new tourist attraction on it's way!
The Muslim Quarters
The best and most lasting memory from Xian was the Muslim quarters. It's
a shopping area filled with small shops and restaurants. Most attractive
is the market
street where you can buy almost everything. Souvenirs, Mao-watches, old
coins, jewelers, traditional paintings, cloths, shoes, you name it and
you get it. You can spend hours here just looking, shopping and bargaining.
The hatch is that you don't know what's real or fake.
even the seller knows. But, it's probably fake anyway.
Besides, in the Muslim quarters I ate the best dumplings ever in China. Big
dumplings dipped in
soy and chili sauce. We were three big
guys here eating for hours at the cost of 30 Yuan. All together.
about dumplings. If you don't know what it is, it's a thin blade of
wheat paste filled with meat or vegetables (no pork at this place, of course)
and then sealed. They are then steamed or fried.
It's said that
dumpling is the origin of the Italian ravioli, brought to Europe by
Marco Polo in the 13th century. Could be true, but of course, the Italians
don't agree about that.
Steamed dumplings on their way.
East of the inner city is a Taoist (or rather Daoist, according to the
pinyin transcription) temple.
It's still active, and for a outsider like me it very much looks like a Buddhist
ceremonie. Lots of incents was burned. The temple is built in Ming style like all
other temple in northern China. Nothing spectacular about it, but it was
very quiet and
In front of the temple there was a bridge over a small
pond. Beneath the bridge hang a bell. If you toss a coin and hit the
bell, you had a lucky soul and forever connected with your destiny (or
something). I didn't hit it, guess my soul isn't ready for the higher
|Daoist vs Buddhist
Close to the Daoist temple I also found a Buddhist temple. Couldn't see
much of a difference. Same type of buildings and the same type of gardens.
And a lot of incents.
Of course they have different statues inside. The Buddhists has big
Buddhas, small Buddhas, sleeping Buddhas,
female Buddha's and just ordinary Buddhas.
The Daoists on their side has different statues of old Gods,
some with long beards, some dressed like warriors and some with a very frightening
faces. I really don't know anything about those old guys.
Anyway, after 10 days in China I am already getting bored with temples.
To make it even more confusing they have a third similar philosophy
in China, the Confusianists.
Big Goose Pagoda
In the south of the city is the Big Goose Pagoda. It's another temple
area that holds a 60 meter high tower in the middle.
In front of the tower is a big square with fountains built in terraces. I heard later that the water streams to the
classical European music, but I didn't see that myself.
Broad streets and modern shopping centers. View from
the Bell tower.
I spend the afternoon searching the whole city for an internet bar. Finaly
I gave up just to find it right outside the hotel. 5 Yuan per hour. Now I finaly learned the chinese charachters for
internet, wang ba.
Always crowded in those places. What does everyone do
here? - Computer games! The youngsters are sitting here for hours. Most popular
to be some arcade game "Killing-the-ghosts-and-dragons-of-the-middle-age".
Internet works well everywhere in China, sometimes a bit slow, but
still acceptable. I even read my local Swedish newspaper several times!
|The Terracotta Worriors
If you go to Xian, of course it's a must to visit the Terracotta
Worriors. The Terracotta Army was created by the first emperor of Qin
(around 200 BC) to guard his grave. He didn't just build the army but a
complete village with a big hill covering the tomb. Inside the tomb, the coffin was floating in mercury and the
ceiling was filled with stars.
700.000 workers was
involved in this work which took 20-30 years to fulfill. Everyone
involved in the construction, including mistresses, dogs and horses, was
finally killed not to expose the place. It didn't help though, just a few
years later it was plundered anyway.
To get there I joined a tour group. We spent one whole day on
the tour which included six stops. Busy! Never do those stupid guided Chinese tours!
1. Museum of the Xian Incident.
2. Linton Museum with artifacts from Zhou-Ming (1000 BC- 1700 AD). Nice
3. Lintons old city wall.
4. A model of the Emperor of Qin's tomb.
5. The hill at the Qin mausoleum.
6. Finally we reached the actual goal of the tour, the Terracotta Warriors.
It's a huge modern
The museum of the "Xian Incident". Someone killed
someone here in 1936. There were no english labels and I didn't realy
get the whole picture.
At the Linton museum I touched the nose of the Happiness
It's supposed to
give you good luck and a lot of girlfriends. Really hope so.
Artifact at Shaanxi Museum
Another half day I spend at the Shaanxi museum, south of the central city.
and modern building. As in Linton Museum they displayed a lot of beautiful
artifacts from Western Zhou until Ming-Qing dynasty.
Besides, they also had some interesting Neolithic findings
including a 1 million year old sculls of Homo Erectus. Shaanxi is
actually one of the oldest area in the world with human activity.
All artifact was labeled in English but the explaining texts was only in
They did have some guides talking both English and French. But
those Chinese guides tend to speak like an tape recorder and are always
in a hurry. They are usually not much of a help.