Friday, November 06, 2009

Beijing Nov '09 Part2: Xi'an1

The local night train experience, despite travelling 1st class in a private cabin for 4, was not a good one.
We found some 2 intruders sleeping on our beds when we boarded.
They just left after being told, without feeling guilty of dirtying our bed sheets!

Xi'an has been the capital to 11 dynasties over a period of 4000 years. Thus you can expect a lot of splendid sights recalling those past glorious emperor days.

The first place we visit is this 明城墙, a 14Km long square Ming dynasty city walls. The 12M high bastions have bases up to 18M thick.

Walking on it was quite an experience,
jogging on it would take too much time, so we elected to just have a shot taken.

Interesting weapons were displayed on the bastion.

Nicely designed trash collector to blend into ancient days.

We then visited the famous "Bell Tower"

Straight ahead is the modern Xi'an city center, inside the fortifications.

and right opposite is the twin "Drum Tower"

We had the highly recommended dumpling Buffet 餃子宴, in a restaurant near the Drum Tower.

However, we get only to sample only one each, for RMB88 per head. All were freshly wrapped and steamed.

Nevertheless, we tried so many different types of 餃子that .........hmhm, now we know why did they offer us only one per type!

This one claimed to be world smallest, at the size of a peanut.

However, for it's size, there was hardly any meat inside.

We suckers only get to eat the skin, haha!

This one is purplish black, made of yam?

This duck dumpling is the prettiest. With duck meat inside, it tasted good too.

Don't under estimate the size of these dumplings.

When they brought out the last dish, we were so full that we could not finish them.

We paid a short visit to this Tang dynasty Dayan Ta(Great Goose Pagoda), 大雁塔, built 2600 years ago, for the famous monk, Xuanzang, 唐三藏 to translate those Buddhist Sutras he brought back from India into Chinese.

His travel blogged on the wall carvings were fabulous.
Incidentally, his travel was made famous by the legend, " Monkey goes west" 西遊記.

Later in the evening, we patronised this brand new 大唐芙蓉园, big, nice and will become a potential hot tourist spot one day.

Night scenery was even better. We watched 2 shows here, one indoor and one outdoor.

The first was a musical depicting the good old days of the Tang Dynasty,梦回大唐.

The other one was an open air laser projection on the lake, 水体景观.
Neither were particularly impressive.

An hour ride the following morning got us to visit the eigth wonder of the world, terracotta!

The arrow on the right on this photo shows the exact location where the farmer found the first terracotta while sinking a well. Today, he sits in the hall and autographs a publication on Terracotta, and I bought one ;)

There are 3 caves of Terracotta dug out till now. This is the 1st and the biggest.
Original Terracotta dug out were coloured, but oxidation makes them look dull after a while. Only these 3, dug and preserved by German Technology, remained intact. Hence, more excavation will only continue when enough Chinese technology is developed ;(

Among them, There were horses and chariots.

We then proceed to a place, 華清池, where the famous concubine of 唐明皇, 楊貴妃 stayed.

The pool here was where she used to take bath, using the hot spring water nearby.

Supposedly, she was slightly rounded, by the standard of Chinese beauties, as you can see for yourself ;)

The back ground lake is known as 華清池九龍湖, the 9-dragon lake.

The highlight of the visit was a grand show at night, 長恨歌, a poem by 白居易.
It is directed by 李捍忠, who makes use of the lake as a dance stage, lighted bridges and surrounding buildings as backdrops, while the hill at the back is made to glitter like stars with a moon which changes in shape.

300 actors and dancers performed on this stage raised from the lake. At one war scene, canons were fired from the back, and the whole lake was on fire!

Later, when 楊貴妃 died, her spirit was seen retracting towards the sky.......

天長地久有時盡,此恨綿綿無絕期....recalling those good school days when we learnt this poem ;)
This is a fantastic show not to be missed.

That night we stayed in this nearby 爱琴海 spa resort, and soaked ourselves in the water drawn from the same hot spring 楊貴妃 used to enjoy.......;)

There were many different fragrant pools, indoor and outdoors, and we were very impressed by the workers' hospitality and working attitude.

However, it is a different experience as our Suginoi Onsen extravaganza in April ;)

The 3rd day in Xi'an is to scale the dangerous and yet beautiful Hua-San, 五岳之首,以险而著称——西岳-华山.
Our endeavouring driver managed to send us in time for our climb, despite an accident on the highway, by deviating via a narrow village tunnel road.

Thank you, Sifu ;), next post will be our climb up Hua Shan, 华山论剑

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