Sunday, September 23, 2007

Xi'an

The first day in Xi'an I was really tired from the long train ride from Pingyao. The train left Pingyao at 8PM and got into Xi'an about 8:30AM. I did not sleep really well on the train so figured I would not do a lot on first day. I did visited the Drum and Bell Towers and than walked over to the Great Mosque. I found the Mosque interesting because it was so much difference than the Mosques I have visited in Egypt,Turkey and Morocco. This mosque looked a lot like the different temples that I have been visiting the past couple of weeks. The big difference from the temples is the mosque didn't have any figures of Buddha or other gods. Tourists are not allowed to go into the area where they pray but they can look through the doors. I was interested to see the direction in which they pray and noticed a man praying so was able to see the direction. I forget the name of the area in the mosque that they face to pray but it should be in the direction of Mecca. I figured this would be sort of southwest but it appears from my compass to be due west. Sort of strange the dumb things I find interesting.



On the walk to the Mosque I bought a couple of pirated movies and watched one of these in the evening. They do a really impressive job on the packaging of these pirated movies and the quality was not that bad for someone setting in a movie theater and filming a movie.

The following morning I walked around lost looking for a place to book a tour when someone found me and showed me a place for a tour. I managed to get on what they call the eastern tour of Xi'an. This tour included The Army of Terracotta Warriors, The Tomb of Qin Shi Hang, Hauqing Pool and a museum that I don't know its name.

I was really impressed with the Terracotta Warriors and the museum was interesting but the others did not really seem that impressive to me. I think I took way to many pictures of the Terracotta Warriors but was hoping that at least a couple would turn out ok. Here are just a few. I am not going to put all the pictures on my website since some of there were really bad and a lot of repeats.





I found it also fun to talk to the different people in the tour group and hear where they have been and get places recommended.

I wanted to also do the western tour of Xi'an because it would just be hard to reach all of these places via public transport. In the guide book it said that this was not popular and you might get a tour after waiting a few days. I ask about it from where I got the eastern tour and they had it but only in Chinese. I decided to take the tour in Chinese. At the start of the tour and a couple of times during the day the tour guide and the people on the tour got into very lively talks. I had no idea what was going on and this arguments turned out to be the only down side of the tour. I really enjoyed the day even though I never understood a word.

We started at Xianyang City Museum where they have Terracotta Warriors from a Han dynasty tomb and the warriors are about 1/4 the size of a normal person.




After that we visited out first Imperial Tomb which I think was the tomb of General Huo Qubing but not 100% sure. It was just a big mound but I still felt I had to walk to the top and see the view. The thing I found most interesting was some of the bushes.



The next stop was the tomb of Qian Ling. This tomb for some reason reminded me of Egypt and it got me to thinking the Egyptian Pharos and the Chinese Emperors seem to have had a few things in common. They both were buried with all kinds of stuff for the after life. They liked to build huge impressive things like the pyramids or the great wall and they both seem to have a lot of different gods.




At this point my tour group was done but I was going onto the Famen Temple. I was given to a different Chinese tour group for the rest of the day. This group seemed like a really jolly bunch. I had my picture taken with a number of them but was not quick enough to get one for myself. One of the guys thought I should have my picture taken in front of a number of the building so led me around and would put me somewhere take my camera and take and picture and then take me to another place.

I found the Famen Temple impressive and the room where they have one of the fingers of Buddha is really stunning.




I got dropped off at a different place than my other tour members so waved goodbye and the whole van waving back. I really enjoyed this group even though I did not understand anything.

I had one more night in Xi'an and had a night train to Chengdu the following day. I was going to the Shaanxi History Museum but my bus was going by the Big Wild Goose Pagaoda so stopped there first and walked to the top. It is 7 stories up and not really all that great inside but took a picture from the top just because I walked to the top.




I did make it to the Shaanxi History Museum and walked through it. It is a rather large museum and one of the things I liked the most is of the Chinese gods. I think that some of them are really cool looking.



My last site of the day was Xi'an wall. Once I got on the wall I found out they rented bikes and I had a really good time riding from the east end of the wall to the west and back again. I have thought about renting a bike in other cities but not knowing the streets and the traffic I find it a little intimidating. Up on the wall there is no traffic and no way to get lost so I just had a ball. Great to be back on a bike even if it is a really crappy bike with a set way to low for me.

1 comment:

  1. Keith! Exciting stuff and the beard's coming along well. I think it's the Father Christmas look that's spooking the locals. Off to S.A. tomorrow but I look forward to reading the news when I get back. Take care!

    Nick

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