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Posts tagged “Xian

DAY 7 – FAREWELL JIUZHAIGOU & XIAN, China

Leaving Huanglong behind, our taxi drove northwest into the mountains.  The ride to Jiuzhaigou-Huanglong Airport was roughly an hour long.  The mountainous scenery along the way was pleasant under the sun.  The airport was busy with passengers designated to either Chengdu or Chongqing.  Our flight to Xian only operates during peak tourist season.  It was already dark when we arrived at Xian after the 1.5 hour flight.  Stepping out of the airport, we could immediately tell the difference in the air, from the refreshing highland air of Sichuan to the typical urban smog of a Chinese big city.  It was raining heavily and we decided to take a taxi returning to Hantang House, the guesthouse that we stayed at in the first half of the trip.

Hantang House is a simple guesthouse hidden in an alleyway within walking distance from Xian’s Bell Tower.  Given the affordable price, central location, youth hostel ambience, good selection of international beer and local ice pop, we were quite happy with the stay.  We dropped down our backpacks and walked out to a nearby shopping centre for dinner.  Originally we opted for a popular hotpot restaurant, but eventually gave up when we were told that the wait for a table would be 2.5 hours.  We ended up going to a fish based hotpot restaurant in another shopping centre.  In the next morning, we walked across the alleyway to Xiaohe, a street eatery right outside of our guesthouse.  That was our second and the last opportunity to taste the spicy noodles and local burger made with crispy baked bread.  At the lobby of Hantang House, we said goodbye to the friendly cat which always greeted visitors whenever it was awaken.  We sat around the high wooden table in front of the lobby reception and waited for the American lady whom we would share a taxi to the airport.  Our short trip to Xian and Jiuzhaigou had come to an end.  This concludes our record for this trip.

IMG_7942.JPGThe mountainous terrains near Huanglong reminded us that we were at the southern region of Minshan Mountains.

img_7959Enroute to the Jiuzhai-Huanglong Airport from Huanglong.

dsc_0441Ascending to the sky from Jiuzhaig Huanglong Airport, we could see the a series of snow capped mountains in the area.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHidden in an alleyway, it took us a little while at our first night to find our way to the front door of Hantang House.

dsc_7256The lobby of Hantang House resembled a pub.

dsc_7258The front desk of Hantang House.

dsc_7769Xiaohe, the local eatery just across the alleyway from Hantang House.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALocal burger with fried egg and mixed vegetables in baked bread.

img_8381Spicy noodles were quite delicious, though we had to causally sit on tiny wooden stools at the sidewalk to finish them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAXiaohe Eatery and its table and stools on the sidewalk.

dsc_7752We said farewell to the cute cat at Hantang House.

dsc_7761The friendly cat in the lobby was part of the hospitality of Hantang House.

***

Our posts on 2016 Xian and Jiuzhaigou:

DAY 1 – NIGHT ARRIVAL, Xian, China
DAY 2 – QIN EMPEROR’S TERRACOTTA ARMY, near Xian, China
DAY 2 – BIG WILD GOOSE PAGODA (大雁塔), Xian, China
DAY 3 – HAN YANG LING MAUSOLEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – SHAANXI HISTORY MUSEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – GREAT MOSQUE (西安大清真寺) AND MUSLIM QUARTER, Xian, China
DAY 3 – MING CITY WALL, Xian, China
DAY 4 -FIRST GLIMPSE OF JIUZHAIGOU (九寨溝), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 5 – ARROW BAMBOO LAKE (箭竹海), PANDA LAKE (熊貓海) & FIVE FLOWER LAKE (五花海), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – PEARL SHOAL FALLS (珍珠灘瀑布), MIRROR LAKE (鏡海) & NUORILANG FALLS (諾日朗瀑布), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – LONG LAKE (長海) & FIVE COLOURS LAKE (五彩池), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – RHINOCEROS LAKE (犀牛海), TIGER LAKE (老虎海) & SHUZHENG VILLAGE (樹正寨), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 6 – ASCEND TO FIVE COLOUR POND (五彩池), Huanglong (黃龍), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 7 – FAREWELL JIUZHAIGOU & XIAN, China

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DAY 3 – MING CITY WALL, Xian, China

We chose the historical city wall to end our visit of Xian.  Constructed upon an earlier imperial fortification network of the Tang Dynasty, the First Emperor of Ming Dynasty, Hongwu (洪武), erected the 14km city wall in the 14th century.  Today, this Ming city wall has become one of the most well preserved of its kind in China.  Our taxi dropped us off at the West Gate, also known as Andingmen (安定門).  There was a belt of public park running along the city wall where the locals engaged in all kinds of activities from dancing to playing badminton.  After walking around the area for several minutes we finally found the ticket office and the stair going up to the city wall.  Up on the wall we reached another network of public space where people strolled and cycled.  Against the background of the cloudy sky and charcoal grey bricks, rows of crimson lanterns began to lit up as we walked towards the South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門).  It turned out to be less than an hour of leisure stroll.  Our two friends opted for cycling to complete the journey, while we chose to take our time to walk, take photos, and watch the city below gradually lit up.

dsc_8153Our taxi dropped us off at Andingmen (安定門).

dsc_8167Dusk had fallen upon Xian as we began our walk from Andingmen (安定門).

dsc_8180Signage on Xian city wall.

dsc_8191Xian city wall is a popular for cyclists.

dsc_8207Vivid lighting and red lanterns turned the city wall into a focal point of Xian at night.

dsc_8216Atmospheric dining in traditional houses seemed common along the city wall.

dsc_8243It was interesting to watch the busy street scenes as we walked.

dsc_8263Traditional architectural style is still commonly used for restaurants and hotels in Xian.

dsc_8268After slightly less than an hour of walk, we finally reached the archery tower of the South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門).

dsc_8281Archery Tower of the South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門)

dsc_8290Man played with his kid in front of the flood light of the Archery Tower .

dsc_8313The South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門) is perfectly aligned with the Bell Tower.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門).

dsc_8319Closer up of the Archery Tower of the South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門).

dsc_8307Descending down the South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門).

dsc_8331The South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門).

dsc_8333Looking back at the Archery Tower from the South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe walked through the South Gate Yongningmen (永寧門) to enter the city centre.  We ended up having a fast food dinner and finished the day early.  We needed time to pack our stuff and get ready for our morning flight the next day to Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟).

***

Our posts on 2016 Xian and Jiuzhaigou:

DAY 1 – NIGHT ARRIVAL, Xian, China
DAY 2 – QIN EMPEROR’S TERRACOTTA ARMY, near Xian, China
DAY 2 – BIG WILD GOOSE PAGODA (大雁塔), Xian, China
DAY 3 – HAN YANG LING MAUSOLEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – SHAANXI HISTORY MUSEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – GREAT MOSQUE (西安大清真寺) AND MUSLIM QUARTER, Xian, China
DAY 3 – MING CITY WALL, Xian, China
DAY 4 -FIRST GLIMPSE OF JIUZHAIGOU (九寨溝), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 5 – ARROW BAMBOO LAKE (箭竹海), PANDA LAKE (熊貓海) & FIVE FLOWER LAKE (五花海), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – PEARL SHOAL FALLS (珍珠灘瀑布), MIRROR LAKE (鏡海) & NUORILANG FALLS (諾日朗瀑布), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – LONG LAKE (長海) & FIVE COLOURS LAKE (五彩池), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – RHINOCEROS LAKE (犀牛海), TIGER LAKE (老虎海) & SHUZHENG VILLAGE (樹正寨), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 6 – ASCEND TO FIVE COLOUR POND (五彩池), Huanglong (黃龍), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 7 – FAREWELL JIUZHAIGOU & XIAN, China

 

 


DAY 3 – GREAT MOSQUE (西安大清真寺) AND MUSLIM QUARTER, Xian, China

As the eastern terminus of the former Silk Road, Changan (now Xian) of the Tang Dynasty was a melting pot of different cultures and religions.  A number of Middle Eastern and Central Asian religions entered China during that time, some of which had survived and remained strong even today.  Dated back to many centuries, Xian’s Muslim Quarter and the Great Mosque revealed an interesting cultural fusion that is not commonly seen in other parts of China.  Xian’s Great Mosque is the largest mosque in China.  The buildings in the traditional courtyard complex were mainly constructed in the Ming Dynasty (AD 1368–1644).  Earlier religious complexes, Tanmingsi and Huihui Wanshansi, were established on the same site dated as far back as the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).  

Our taxi dropped us off at one end of the Muslim Quarter, where we began our brief meandering through the crowded Muslim market streets and alleyways before reaching the Great Mosque.  From the first glance, the mosque looked very similar to a traditional Chinese courtyard complex, consisting of houses, pavilions, pagodas, gardens, and courtyards.  We took our time to wander around the courtyards.  As we looked closely at the building decorations, we could find Islam functions and design elements incorporated in the traditional Chinese architecture, with the most obvious being the Arabic inscriptions on walls.  The entire complex faces west towards Mecca.  Artefacts related to Chinese Islam were on displayed in some of the buildings that were open to visitors.  However, the largest prayer hall at the far end of the complex was restricted for Muslims only.  We could only peek through the doors to have a glimpse of the colourful carpets and delicate wooden screens in the hall, where worshipers would have prayers sessions.  It was interesting to see the fusion of Islam and Chinese design elements combined into one single complex. Before sunset, we left the Great Mosque behind for our last designation in Xian, the Ming city walls.

dsc_8016We entered the Muslim Quarter from the main market street.

dsc_8023There is still a significant population of Muslims in Xian.

dsc_8039Cars, motorcycles, and people packed the main market street.

dsc_8042 The market street of Xian’s Muslim Quarter is a good place for people watching.

dsc_8050An awfully tall steamer in front of a local eatery.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA street vendor put different topping on a local dessert called “jing gao” which is a steamed glutinous rice cake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA wonton vendor managing her charcoal stove.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALamb skewers vendors could be seen everywhere.

dsc_8138The entrance gate of Xian’s Great Mosque.

dsc_8069The interior of an old study room looks very much like a traditional Chinese house, but all the paintings and calligraphy on displayed were Islam related.

dsc_8074Islamic components were incorporated in the Chinese architecture.

dsc_8089The mosque complex is made up of a series of courtyards.

dsc_8098“Examining the Heart Tower” in the third courtyard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe main prayer hall at the far end of the complex.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARichly decorated pendant lamps at the veranda of the main prayer hall.

dsc_8117Peeking inside the main prayer hall.

dsc_8121Wooden clock and timber screens of the main prayer hall.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALeaving the Great Mosque behind, we exited the Muslim Quarter from another end of the market street.

DSC_8143.JPGIt was approaching supper time when we left the Muslim Quarter, and the food vendors were all geared up for their night of business.

***

Our posts on 2016 Xian and Jiuzhaigou:

DAY 1 – NIGHT ARRIVAL, Xian, China
DAY 2 – QIN EMPEROR’S TERRACOTTA ARMY, near Xian, China
DAY 2 – BIG WILD GOOSE PAGODA (大雁塔), Xian, China
DAY 3 – HAN YANG LING MAUSOLEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – SHAANXI HISTORY MUSEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – GREAT MOSQUE (西安大清真寺) AND MUSLIM QUARTER, Xian, China
DAY 3 – MING CITY WALL, Xian, China
DAY 4 -FIRST GLIMPSE OF JIUZHAIGOU (九寨溝), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 5 – ARROW BAMBOO LAKE (箭竹海), PANDA LAKE (熊貓海) & FIVE FLOWER LAKE (五花海), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – PEARL SHOAL FALLS (珍珠灘瀑布), MIRROR LAKE (鏡海) & NUORILANG FALLS (諾日朗瀑布), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – LONG LAKE (長海) & FIVE COLOURS LAKE (五彩池), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – RHINOCEROS LAKE (犀牛海), TIGER LAKE (老虎海) & SHUZHENG VILLAGE (樹正寨), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 6 – ASCEND TO FIVE COLOUR POND (五彩池), Huanglong (黃龍), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 7 – FAREWELL JIUZHAIGOU & XIAN, China


DAY 3 – SHAANXI HISTORY MUSEUM, Xian, China

Back from the Han Yang Ling Mausoleum, we continued our historical journey at the provincial history museum of Shaanxi.  There was a long queue at the gate for people to collect the free admission tickets (4000 daily).  We skipped the wait by buying a ticket to the special exhibition of “Treasures of Great Tang Dynasty”, which we wouldn’t want to miss anyway.  We entered the museum building which was designed to mimic the traditional architecture of the Tang Dynasty.

We started our visit with the special exhibition of Tang treasures unearthed from Hejia Village (何家村) of Xian.  Known as the Hejia Village Hoard (何家村唐代窖藏), the 1000+ treasures ranged from gold and silver wares, coins, jade items, agate wares, crystals, etc.  These treasures were carefully stored in clay pots roughly 65cm tall, hidden underground sometime after AD 732 during the An–Shi Rebellion (安史之亂) when Tang China was engulfed in a nasty civil war.  As the east terminus of the Silk Road, the treasures of Changan (now Xian) revealed the degree of cultural exchanges in the Chinese capital during Tang, when goldsmiths and silversmiths from Central Asia such as the Sassanian Empire (now Iraq and Iran) came to Changan and brought with them the world’s most advanced metal crafting skills.  The treasures from the hoard were mainly made domestically with a mixture of techniques and styles from both within China and other places along the Silk Road.  It was an impressive collection and indeed, a very fortunate case for Chinese archaeology that these items could survive the Cultural Revolution when the collection was first unearthed.

We then moved on to the museum’s permanent collections.  We quickly walked through the prehistoric exhibits, and focused on the bronze items from the Shang Dynasty 商朝 (1600-1046 BC) and Zhou Dynasty 周朝 (1046-256 BC), Terracotta Warriors of the Qin Dynasty 秦朝 (221-206 BC), treasures of the Han Dynasty 漢朝 (206 BC- AD 290), and more artefacts from the Tang Dynasty 唐朝 (AD 618-907).  In this post we have included selected photos of the magnificent artefacts from the Shaanxi History Museum.

dsc_7874The Main exhibition hall of Shaanxi History Museum was inspired by Tang architecture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASmall gold dragons (赤金走龍), Hejia Village Hoard.

dsc_7878Gilt Silver Plate with Double Foxes in Shape of Double Peaches (鎏金雙狐紋雙桃形銀盤), Hejia Village Hoard, is inspired by Persian influences in style and technique, combined local references of good fortune: peaches and foxes (foxes and a few other animals were also considered a reference to good fortune in Tang China).

dsc_7879Gilt Silver Plate with Phoneix (鎏金鳳鳥紋六曲銀盤), Hejia Village Hoard

dsc_7882Silver Vessel in Form of Nomadic Leather Flask Depicting a Dancing Horse  (舞馬銜杯仿皮囊式銀壺), Hejia Village Hoard.  Another piece of silver ware reflected the influences from the nomadic tribes of Central Asia.

dsc_7902Gold Bowl with Design of Lotus and Mandarin Ducks (鴛鴦蓮瓣紋金碗), Hejia Village Hoard.  A golden bowl for wine.

dsc_7904Agate Cup with Beast Head (獸首瑪瑙杯), Hejia Village Hoard.  A rare piece of Tang treasure with influences from Persia.

dsc_7915Bronze blades and masks for rituals, Late Shang Dynasty (13th-11th Century BC)

dsc_7918Bronze Bianzhong (編鐘) of Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BC), an ancient music instrument.

dsc_7928Terracotta Warriors of First Qin Emperor, Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC).

dsc_7945The Kneeling Archer, Terracotta Warriors of the First Qin Emperor, Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC).

dsc_7946Gilded Incense Burner, Han Dynasty (206 BC- AD 290), depicting a fantasy mountain supported by dragons.  The incense smoke would leak from the gaps like mountain mist.

dsc_7962Oil Lamp depicting a goose with a fish in its mouth, Han Dyansty (206 BC- AD 290).  The smoke from burning the oil would go through the goose’s neck to its body, which was filled with water.

dsc_7973Gilded Bronze Dragon with iron core, Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).

dsc_7976Tri-coloured Watermelon, Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATerracotta figure of Lady, Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).  A selection of these terracotta figures revealed the impressive hair, makeup and fashion styles of the Tang Dynasty, which changed every few years.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATerracotta figure of Lady, Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).

dsc_7987Terracotta figures of the Chinese Zodiac, Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).

dsc_8000Funeral Procession of the Prince Qinjian from the Ming Dynasty (AD 1368–1644).

***

Our posts on 2016 Xian and Jiuzhaigou:

DAY 1 – NIGHT ARRIVAL, Xian, China
DAY 2 – QIN EMPEROR’S TERRACOTTA ARMY, near Xian, China
DAY 2 – BIG WILD GOOSE PAGODA (大雁塔), Xian, China
DAY 3 – HAN YANG LING MAUSOLEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – SHAANXI HISTORY MUSEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – GREAT MOSQUE (西安大清真寺) AND MUSLIM QUARTER, Xian, China
DAY 3 – MING CITY WALL, Xian, China
DAY 4 -FIRST GLIMPSE OF JIUZHAIGOU (九寨溝), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 5 – ARROW BAMBOO LAKE (箭竹海), PANDA LAKE (熊貓海) & FIVE FLOWER LAKE (五花海), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – PEARL SHOAL FALLS (珍珠灘瀑布), MIRROR LAKE (鏡海) & NUORILANG FALLS (諾日朗瀑布), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – LONG LAKE (長海) & FIVE COLOURS LAKE (五彩池), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – RHINOCEROS LAKE (犀牛海), TIGER LAKE (老虎海) & SHUZHENG VILLAGE (樹正寨), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 6 – ASCEND TO FIVE COLOUR POND (五彩池), Huanglong (黃龍), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 7 – FAREWELL JIUZHAIGOU & XIAN, China


DAY 3 – HAN YANG LING MAUSOLEUM, Xian, China

In the morning, we hired a taxi to head north of Xian.  Our taxi took the airport highway, passed by a number of new residential developments and coal power plants, and arrived at another popular attraction near Xian, the Han Yang Ling Mausoleum (漢陽陵).  As the capital of 13 dynasties, there are many royal tombs around the area of Xian (formerly known as Changan).  Other than the Mausoleum and his Terracotta Army of the First Qin (秦) Emperor, royal tomb complexes of Han and Tang Emperors are also impressive in scale and significant in historical values.  Belonged to Emperor Jing (漢景帝) of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – 9 AD), Han Yang Ling Mausoleum is a major archaeological site to study the Han Dynasty.  There are 86 outer burial pits (22 of which are opened for visitors) around the central mausoleum mount.  Over 50,000 mini terracotta figures were found in the pits along with other valuable artefacts, allowing historians a glimpse what Han China might be like under Emperor Jing.  During his reign in 157 – 141 BC, the Han Dynasty underwent a relatively peaceful period.  Influenced by Taoist beliefs, his policies of non-interference with the people and heavy tax reductions allowed the Han society to rejuvenate itself after years of internal power struggles and civil wars.

After arriving at Han Yang Ling, we walked on the designated boardwalk to have a look at the ruined foundations of the Southern Double Gate Towers (門闕).  The earth foundation structure of the two huge gate towers survived to the present, and is now protected under a huge structure constructed in traditional Chinese style.  The ancient gate towers were gone, but from the interpretative displays and a close look at the remaining foundations, we could imagine the scale of the original structures.  We followed the boardwalk to walk around the mausoleum mount, which had yet been excavated.  Saving the best for the last, we found our way down to the underground museum which brought visitors to have a close encounter with the outer burial pits.  We put on the museum shoe covers and entered the underground world of the tomb.  Inside the museum, we followed a designated route where we could look through the glass floor to the artefacts in the burial pits.  Artefacts seen included mini terracotta human figures, terracotta animals such as pigs, cows, horses, dogs, etc., skeletons of large animals, ancient tea leaves, barley, wooden tools, etc.  It was such a big contrast compared with the Terracotta Army of the First Qin Emperor, who died 69 years before Han Emperor Jing.  The Qin royal tomb was all about presenting the Emperor’s military might and his fear of revenges from his enemies in the underworld.  The Han tomb, on the other hand, was a mausoleum built during a time when China was beginning to enter its first peaceful golden age.  It was a time to celebrate good economy, abundant food, and agricultural advancement.  It was weird to see the thousands of naked arm-less terracotta figures until we realized that their wooden arms and clothing made of fabrics had long perished.

dsc_7774Boardwalk heading to the ruins of the Southern Tower Gate (hidden within the museum constructed as a traditional Chinese building.

dsc_7785Foundation of one of the two Southern Gate Tower.

dsc_7786Looking at the passageway between the foundation of the two Gate Towers.

dsc_7773Stone structure of the burial pit was visible from the plain aboveground.

dsc_7787Boardwalk leading to the foot of the mausoleum mount of Han Emperor Jing.

dsc_7798Walking into the underground museum of Han Yang Ling Mausoleum.

dsc_7801A model of the reconstructed Han Yang Ling Mausoleum.

dsc_7804Interior of the underground museum.

dsc_7807Looking into the burial pit through the glass.

dsc_7814The burial pits were long and linear with rows of artefacts inside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADesignated route with glass floor in the underground museum.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStanding above one of the burial pits.

dsc_7821Terracotta livestock and pots in one of the burial pits.

dsc_7835Terracotta human figures at Pit 18.

dsc_7839Partially excavated terracotta figures at Pit 14.

dsc_7844Closer look at the terracotta figures and cows.

dsc_7858Terracotta livestock with pigs, cows, horses, dogs, etc.

DSC_7862.JPGDisplay of the terracotta figures, with the middle one wearing clothing in the Han style.

dsc_7863Thousands of artefacts were unearthed at Han Yang Ling Mausoleum.

 

***

Our posts on 2016 Xian and Jiuzhaigou:

DAY 1 – NIGHT ARRIVAL, Xian, China
DAY 2 – QIN EMPEROR’S TERRACOTTA ARMY, near Xian, China
DAY 2 – BIG WILD GOOSE PAGODA (大雁塔), Xian, China
DAY 3 – HAN YANG LING MAUSOLEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – SHAANXI HISTORY MUSEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – GREAT MOSQUE (西安大清真寺) AND MUSLIM QUARTER, Xian, China
DAY 3 – MING CITY WALL, Xian, China
DAY 4 -FIRST GLIMPSE OF JIUZHAIGOU (九寨溝), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 5 – ARROW BAMBOO LAKE (箭竹海), PANDA LAKE (熊貓海) & FIVE FLOWER LAKE (五花海), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – PEARL SHOAL FALLS (珍珠灘瀑布), MIRROR LAKE (鏡海) & NUORILANG FALLS (諾日朗瀑布), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – LONG LAKE (長海) & FIVE COLOURS LAKE (五彩池), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – RHINOCEROS LAKE (犀牛海), TIGER LAKE (老虎海) & SHUZHENG VILLAGE (樹正寨), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 6 – ASCEND TO FIVE COLOUR POND (五彩池), Huanglong (黃龍), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 7 – FAREWELL JIUZHAIGOU & XIAN, China


DAY 2 – BELL TOWER, Xian, China

After the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, we taxied back to the city centre of Xian.  Before dinner, we decided to pay the beautiful Bell Tower a proper visit.  Situated at the heart of a roundabout, the Bell Tower could only be accessed via an underground passage.  We paid the admission and climbed the stair up to the podium deck of the building.  Ornate architectural carving, including the magnificent window screens, were well restored.  Since construction in 1384 during the Ming Dynasty, the Bell Tower had been restored a number of times.  The tower was damaged in the Second World War, and since then five restorations had taken place to restore the building into its former glory.  Originally built to house the bells to announce time for the city, Xian’s Bell Tower had also performed multiple functions throughout history: stage for public announcement, military beacon, temporary prison, and even the first ever film cinema in Xian.  We stayed on the podium deck for quite some time to admire the architecture and the urban scenery at all four directions, until we were urged by hunger to leave for a dumpling dinner nearby at a traditional restaurant called De Fa Chang (德發長).

dsc_7638Bell Tower in the centre of the roundabout with Drum Tower in the background.

dsc_7646Close up of the colourful timber architectural elements of the Bell Tower.

dsc_7650Across the street from the roundabout stands the equally important Drum Tower.

dsc_7661The Bell Tower and roundabout in 1960.

dsc_7664The beam and purlin system that supports the big roof of Bell Tower.

dsc_7668Close up of the beams and purlins.

dsc_7665Walking out to the deck of the upper level.

dsc_7705A smaller version of the famous Jingyun Bell (cast in AD711 during Tang Dynasty) was on display on the Bell Tower.

dsc_7708Stair back down to the base of the Bell Tower.

dsc_7736Bell and Drum Tower Square adjacent to the Bell Tower roundabout.

dsc_7743The Drum Tower as seen from the Bell and Drum Tower Square.

dsc_7750Dumpling dinner at De Fa Chang Restaurant.


DAY 2 – BIG WILD GOOSE PAGODA (大雁塔), Xian, China

After we finished with the Terracotta Army, we exited the site via a designated route through lanes after lanes of souvenir shops, restaurants and theme-park like tourist traps.  Prominent national treasures have once again fallen victims to mass tourism and consumerism in today’s highly commercialized China.  At the parking lot, we took one of the many buses returning to Xian Railway Station.  At the station, we had a late noodle lunch at one of the basic eateries right next to the station plaza.  After a forgettable bowl of noodles, we flagged down a taxi and headed south to our next place to visit, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (大雁塔).

Xian, formerly known as Changan (長安), was the national capital during the Qin and Han Dynasties, as well as the Tang Dynasty during China’s golden age.  Other than artefacts in the museums, not many traces of Tang Dynasty remained in the city, except two well-known pagodas that had dominated the city’s skyline for over a millennium, namely the Big Wild Goose and Small Wild Goose Pagoda.  The original Big Goose Pagoda and the entire Ci En Buddhist Temple complex (慈恩寺) were built in the Tang Dynasty at AD 652.  The complex was built to store the relics and Buddhist texts that Buddhist monk Xuanzang (玄奘) brought back from India.  Xuanzang, the famous traveler, translator and Buddhist master who inspired Ming author Wu Cheng En (吳承恩) on writing the epic novel Journey to the West (西遊記), left Tang China for India in AD 629 and returned to Changan in AD 645.  Not only did Xuanzang enhanced his Buddhist studies from a number of famous Indian masters, he also wrote a magnificent travelogue that depicted his 16-year journey throughout Central Asia, brought back hundreds of Sanskrit texts on Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism, and returned with many sarira relics.  At the original Ci En Temple, Xuanzang spent the remaining 19 years of his life translating the Sanskrit Buddhist texts into Chinese.  His translation efforts helped to spread and consolidate Buddhism in East Asia.

The original rammed earth pagoda built in Xuanzang’s time collapsed a few decades after it was built.  The Tang Dynasty rebuilt a taller pagoda in AD 704.  The top three levels couldn’t withstand an earthquake in 1556 and reduced to the present height of 64m.  It was a little crowded up the wooden stair inside the pagoda.  Scaffolding was up at the lower two levels, reminding us that the Big Wild Goose Pagoda had gone through a series of extensive repair works, one during the Ming Dynasty (AD 1368–1644) and one in 1964.  Apart from the pagoda, other buildings in the complex of Da Ci En Temple (大慈恩寺) couldn’t survive.  The buildings that we visited nowadays dated back to the Qing Dyansty (AD 1644-1912), and occupied roughly one seventh the area of the original Tang complex.

After seeing the pagoda, we walked across the street to the nearby Westin Hotel.  Designed by the emerging architectural office in Shanghai, Neri & Hu Design and Research Office, the design of the Westin Hotel revealed a clever interplay of contrasting colours and variation of materials to express a minimalist interpretation of traditional Chinese architecture.

dsc_7493The Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Da Ci En Temple.

dsc_7503Golden Buddha at the main hall of Da Ci En Temple.

dsc_7506Outside the main hall of Da Ci En Temple.

dsc_7512Worshiper outside of another prayer hall at Ci En Temple.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Big Wild Goose Pagoda from below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAView of public plaza and urban axis from the top of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.

dsc_7527View of traditional architecture below the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.

dsc_7529Staircase inside the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.

dsc_7535Urban parks surrounded the Big Wild Goose Pagoda from all four sides.

dsc_7539Statue of Xuanzang in front of Big Wild Goose Pagoda.

dsc_7540A museum attached to the Westin Hotel designed by Neri & Hu Design and Research Office.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAtrium inside the Westin Hotel.

dsc_7548A interior courtyard at the Westin Hotel.

dsc_7552Reception lobby of the Westin Hotel.

dsc_7559By the time we left the Westin Hotel flood lights had already lit up at the pagoda.

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Our posts on 2016 Xian and Jiuzhaigou:

DAY 1 – NIGHT ARRIVAL, Xian, China
DAY 2 – QIN EMPEROR’S TERRACOTTA ARMY, near Xian, China
DAY 2 – BIG WILD GOOSE PAGODA (大雁塔), Xian, China
DAY 3 – HAN YANG LING MAUSOLEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – SHAANXI HISTORY MUSEUM, Xian, China
DAY 3 – GREAT MOSQUE (西安大清真寺) AND MUSLIM QUARTER, Xian, China
DAY 3 – MING CITY WALL, Xian, China
DAY 4 -FIRST GLIMPSE OF JIUZHAIGOU (九寨溝), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 5 – ARROW BAMBOO LAKE (箭竹海), PANDA LAKE (熊貓海) & FIVE FLOWER LAKE (五花海), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – PEARL SHOAL FALLS (珍珠灘瀑布), MIRROR LAKE (鏡海) & NUORILANG FALLS (諾日朗瀑布), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – LONG LAKE (長海) & FIVE COLOURS LAKE (五彩池), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 5 – RHINOCEROS LAKE (犀牛海), TIGER LAKE (老虎海) & SHUZHENG VILLAGE (樹正寨), Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝), China
DAY 6 – ASCEND TO FIVE COLOUR POND (五彩池), Huanglong (黃龍), Sichuan (四川), China
DAY 7 – FAREWELL JIUZHAIGOU & XIAN, China