Sunday, August 14, 2011

Xi'An: Home of the Terracotta Warrior

In 1974, a farmer in Shaanxi province was digging a well and stumbled on some bits of stone that looked like body parts. Years later, a few Dutchmen stand at the site of one of China's (and possibly the world's) famous historic sites: the mausoleum of China's first emperor, mister Qin Shi Huang.

We're in the city of Xi'an--located roughly in the middle of China. From Guilin and Yangshuo (see last post) we had flown to this ancient capital to bike on the historic city wall and take a closer look at the bīngmǎ yǒng (兵馬俑), the terracotta warriors. These stone soldiers and horses were once lined up for the afterlife of Emperor Qin and now continue to be digged up and glued together as a result of the meticulous work of a lot of Chinese archeologists.

There are lots of fun things to do in Xi'an, but I have to say that the actual terracotta warrior site is so packed with people and hyperactive tour guides, it is kind of hard to truly enjoy or appreciate the experience. Nevertheless, I think the pictures look pretty cool. And for the bread in Xi'an's muslim area, I would go back any day :-)

It's great to bike on Xi'an's city wall! You can bike a big square of 13.7 kilometers.

More biking on the city wall: Roel, Paul & Thomas.

We're all standing on Xi'an's historic (though probably upgraded and renovated) city wall. The well-lighted house in the background is actually a bathroom. It might be--at least on the outside--one of the best looking bathrooms I've ever seen.

Thousands of soldiers lined up for the dead emperor's afterlife.

"We're on the road to nowhere..."

Mascotte of the Xi'an Horticultural Expo. We did not see the Expo itself, but this mascotte was following us throughout the city.

At the temple next to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an. We're visiting the temple and pagoda on our last day in the city. In the afternoon we'll leave for Xining in Gansu province.

Picking up a prayer card at the temple.

View from the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.

The Big Wild Goose Pagoda itself--a final snapshot of Xi'an. While seeing the sites in Xi'an was lovely, we're all ready for more peace and quiet in Gansu....

(to be continued...)

In het nederlands: Dit is het tweede deel van een superkort reisverslag van onze vakantie in China. Na Guilin, Ping an en Yangshuo zijn we dus in Xi'an terecht gekomen. Xi'an is mooi, maar het meest blijft me bij hoe ongelooflijk druk het is bij de terracotta soldaten. We maken ook een leuke fietstocht op de stadsmuur, gaan een keer zwemmen, en zwerven lekker door de moslim buurt van de stad. De derde dag--na een kort bezoek aan de Wilde Gans Tempel--gaan we alweer door naar de stad Xining in de provincie Gansu.

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