We had a very short trip in Xian – only 2 nights. Again, we noticed immediately how much easier breathing was at a normal altitude. The city of Xi’an was very nice and pretty. The downtown area is protected by a huge wall which used to be the palace’s borders. Today, the wall is used for marathons and the entire wall has parks on the outside which the people use well.
The main attraction in Xi’an is the Terracotta Warriors and they are absolutely fascinating. There are an estimated 8,000+ life-size and extremely detailed warriors and another 130 chariots and 700 horses. Their faces have intricate expressions and the army is situated according to rank, just as it would have been in 246 BCE. They were built by the first emperor of China – the one that unified all the different dynasties and also built the Great Wall. According to our guide, the emperor built the warriors to protect him in the afterlife. Amazingly, he ordered construction of the army when he was only 13 years old and before he was actually emperor. After being discovered by a farmer trying to build a well in 1973, hundreds of archaeologists have worked on excavating the army and putting the pieces back together (most were destroyed in a fire and the original weapons were robbed shortly after completion). They found that the vibrant colors faded completely within 6 months so they halted further excavation. As of today, they still don’t have the technology to properly preserve the pieces (although we heard on the news a few hours ago they are going to give it a try).
We also visited a Feng shui museum, yet another buddhist temple and one of the four most famous mosques in China. Also, we went to a Tang Dynasty Cultural show. We have enjoyed all the shows in China and this one was no exception. The music was nice, costumes were beautiful and there was dancing as well as kung fu elements. It was very entertaining!
The first night at the Hyatt we discovered they had a pub with Pizza so of course we decided to take advantage of the opportunity for a pizza and beer night. But, we also had the benefit of a live Philippino cover band. As we had more beers the band sounded better. Anyway because we were 2 of 6 people in the bar, the band came over to say hi and chat a little. They were actually really nice and took some requests. The next and final night we decided to pay them a visit again, however we felt we needed to step it with Martini’s so Raj taught the bartender how to make a dirty martini and we even ended up on stage with the band. We bought the band a few rounds of beer, again because we were 2 of 4 people in the bar and chatted with them during their break. Some of the band members had these really cool cigarette holders with a built in lighter. Anyway we thought they’d be great gifts and when we asked them were to buy them the band members gave us two as a gift. Very sweet of them! Unfortunately at the airport the next day, the airport told us we could not fly with them, even if they were in checked in baggage, so we had to leave them with our guide as gift for her. Very sad… (sorry Fred).
Xi’an was surprisingly fun, and truly a beautiful city in the middle of China with a rich and loooong history like no other – 5000 years. As we’ve heard from just about every guide, “if you want 50 years of China’s history, go to Shanghai; if you want 500 years of China’s history, go to Beijing; and if you want 5000 years of history, go to Xi’an!”