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Posts tagged “Xian

DAY 2 – QIN EMPEROR’S TERRACOTTA ARMY (秦始皇陵兵馬俑), near Xian, China

In the morning, we headed to the main railway station of Xian.  At the station’s  east plaza, there were a number of municipal buses designated for major tourist attractions near the city.  We hopped onto one of the several buses heading to the Terracotta Army (兵馬俑).  The bus ride took roughly an hour to arrive at the parking lot, which was about 15 minutes of walk from the gate of the archaeological site.  On our way to the gate, we passed by an alleyway full of vendors.  An elderly woman selling baby woolen shoes beautifully handcrafted in traditional styles caught our attention.  From the ticket hall it was another 15-minute meandering through a park until reaching the main site, where four exhibition halls housed the most important archaeological discovery in China in the 20th century.  We started from Pit 1, the biggest and most impressive exhibition hall where about 2000 terracotta warriors were on display in rows of excavated ditches.  There were over 6000 warriors in this pit alone.  It was unbelievable that no two warriors have the same face.  At Pit 3 a number of high ranked terracotta generals were unearthed, prompting archaeologists to believe that it was the vault for the commanders.  However the pit had been partially damaged.  We then moved on to Pit 2 that offer close-up encounter with different types of warriors: archers, infantry, chariots, troopers, etc.  The extraordinary details of the warrior’s hairstyles and armour were captivating, leaving us plenty of clues to piece together an impression of what being one of the thousands of warriors protecting the mighty First Qin Emperor (秦始皇)might be like 2200 years ago.  Before leaving, we dared not to miss the “Qin Shi Huang Emperor Tomb Artefact Exhibition Hall”, in which two bronze chariots and horses unearthed near the mausoleum were on display.

We have learnt about the Terracotta Army since early childhood in Hong Kong from books and school.  We had seen an amazing traveling exhibition of the warriors at London’s British Museum back in 2008, but none could compare with seeing the real excavation site of the army.  Discovered in 1974 by a well-digging farmer, the Terracotta Army belongs to the outer part of the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor.  Famous as a cruel tyrant, the First Qin Emperor was also widely recognized for his contributions on unifying China, not only militarily, but also the language, culture, economy and measurement units.  Built between BC 208 to 256, the mausoleum construction began in the first year of his throne when the First Qin Emperor was 13 years old.  The 8000+ terracotta warriors unearthed revealed the high level of sculpting skills and artistic craftsmanship of the Qin Dynasty, as well as the selfish personality of the First Qin Emperor.  Legend had it that the First Qin Emperor had huge fear of mortality.  Not only he sent out travelers to look for the medicine of immortality, he also commissioned a build a terracotta army to safeguard his tomb from his uncounted enemies in the Afterlife.  Ancient texts also described the exquisite construction of the mausoleum, including river streams filled with mercury so they would never dried up.  Before the actual digging of the mausoleum may take place one day in the future, our generation could only imagine the exquisite of the emperor’s underground mausoleum from ancient depictions and archaeological studies of the excavated terracotta army.

dsc_7267Like many railway stations in the country, Xian Railway Station is a huge building.

dsc_7273The old woman making traditional woolen shoes near the parking lot of the Terracotta Army.

dsc_7288Aisles of the Terracotta Army in Pit One.

dsc_7286No visitors were allowed to go down to the aisles, except archaeologists and occasional VIP.

dsc_7307Looking at the warriors, it was hard to imagine all of them were once fully coloured.

dsc_7342Built in 1976, the huge building covering Pit One felt like a railway station.

dsc_7349The terracotta warriors seemed like they were queuing for a train, but in fact, the warriors were facing eastwards and battle-ready to guard the Emperor’s tomb from enemies of the east, namely the six nations that Qin had conquered before unifying China into a single nation.

dsc_7353A number of the terracotta warriors were in different stages of conservation.

dsc_7361Terracotta warriors and horses at Pit 2.

dsc_7437Overview of Pit 2.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAScattered pieces of warriors and artefacts at Pit 2.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhotographs of the coloured warriors during excavation.

dsc_7394Several terracotta warriors were displayed in glass boxes at Pit 3.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll of them had different hairstyles, dresses, postures, and faces.

dsc_7407Terracotta statue of an high ranked official.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABelly of the high ranked official.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArcher without the bow.  Some of the weaponry were also on display.

dsc_7414Cavalry and his beautifully carved horse.

dsc_7421The details of the horse’s headpiece was magnificent.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACloseup of a warrior’s head showing unique hairstyle of that time.

dsc_7460Two bronze chariots were discovered near the mausoleum.  They are roughly half the size of the real objects.  The chariots were unearthed in 1980 and took archaeologists years to put back together the broken pieces.  These chariots are one of the fifty or so designated artefacts that can never leave the country.

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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

 


DAY 1 – NIGHT ARRIVAL, Xian, China

In Mid-October, we had the opportunity to reunite with two of our travel buddies for a short trip to China.  It was the week after the week-long Chinese National Holiday.  We had a simple travel plan consisted of two distinct parts: Xian (西安) for history and Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝) for natural scenery.  Xian, historically known as Changan (長安), was the ancient capital of China for 13 different dynasties, spanning a total period of over 1200 years, including the golden age of Han and Tang Dynasty.  The ruins of ancient royal palaces and tombs, such as the magnificent Terra-cotta Warriors of the First Qin Emperor, revealed the former glory of ancient China.  Jiuzhaigou, on the other hand, has been renowned for its out-of-this-world alpine scenery.  It is located at the north of Sichuan Province (四川) where the plains of Eastern and Central China begins to give way to the Tibetan and Qinghai Plateau.

After a minor delay, we flew out of Hong Kong in a Saturday afternoon.  It was already dusk by the time we landed at Xian Xianyang Interational Airport.  We took an airport bus into the city, and taxied the rest of the way to our hostel south of Xincheung Square (新城廣場).  Our taxi passed by the well-preserved Ming city wall and the brightly lit historical Bell Tower.  After getting off, it took us a while to find the alleyway where our hostel was located.  We were delighted to find our hostel room clean and comfortable.  After checking in, we headed out immediately to grab a quick dinner.  According to guidebook, an old famous restaurant of Shaanxi Muslim food called Lao Sun Jia (老孫家) was just five minutes of walk from our hostel.  We found our way to the restaurant at the fourth floor of a retail centre.  It was about 21:00 and there was only one table of guests finishing off their beer and noodles.  We sat down and ordered the popular paomo (泡饃), or crumbled flatbread in either mutton or beef stew. 

After dinner, we wanted to checked out the beautiful Bell Tower (鐘樓) right at the historical heart of Xian.  It was another five minute of walk from the restaurant.  The tower was already close for the day, but we could still admire the historical architecture across the street from the tower’s roundabout.  This handsome piece of traditional architecture was an icon of Xian.  In the old days since the 14th century, the tower’s main function was to mark the moment of dawn with its bells.  A few blocks away, we noticed another historical building prominently lit up.  It was the Drum Tower (鼓樓), the building that originally housed 28 drums to mark the day’s end at dusk.  Around the corner from the Drum Tower, we entered a busy pedestrian streets packed with snack vendors.  We had entered Beiyuanmen (北院門) Street, the core of Xian’s Muslim Quarter.  It was almost 10pm but the street was still busy with visitors.  There were a number of vendors selling barbecue lamb kebabs, mutton or beef sandwiches, local pomegranate juices, traditional sweets, nuts, persimmon cakes, and many other kinds of desserts.  After the filling meal of paomo, we gave it a pass for the street food.  We slowly walked back to our hostel, hoping to get some good rest.  In the next morning we would exit Xian and head eastwards to the foot of Lishan Mountains to check out the most popular tourist attraction of Xian: the First Qin Emperor’s Terra-cotta Warriors.

dsc_7127Mutton paomo (泡饃) at Lao Sun Jia Restaurant (老孫家).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeef paomo (泡饃) at Lao Sun Jia Restaurant (老孫家).

dsc_7131Heading towards the icon of Xian, the Bell Tower (鐘樓).

dsc_7152The Bell Tower stands at the centre of a large roundabout.

dsc_7166The 14th century structure is lit up with atmospheric lighting.

dsc_7186The Drum Tower at a distance, and in front, the public square between Bell Tower and Drum Tower.  The square is flanked by local restaurants, a department store, and a Starbucks.

dsc_7204Signage at the Drum Tower.

dsc_7208The mighty Drum Tower near the entrance to the Muslim Quarter.

dsc_7220Street vendor of lamb kebabs at the Muslim Quarter.  There were terrifying lamb skeletons hanging in front of each kebab store.

dsc_7227Beiyuanmen (北院門) Street, the main pedestrian street at the Muslim Quarter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVendor selling regional pomegranate juice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARose cake, another kind of local dessert.

dsc_7229Kebab stores were the most popular.

dsc_7235Muslim beef sandwiches.

dsc_7244Vendor handling of sweet being heated up.

dsc_7245Persimmon cakes and a friendly smile.

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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