Bei - Dong - Nan - Xi
This is a general tip which is not only adaptable for Xi'An but for China as well.I will tell you something about the point of the compass.
For the emperor of ancient China these terms were very important, you will notice it if you see the construction of the cities,especially of the capitals. Xi'An was the first capital of China and here we have an example of a construction in such a way.
The center of Xi'An is the Bell Tower. Bei Dajie leads to the North Gate. 'Bei' means North, 'Dajie' means Main street. Dong Dajie leads to the East Gate. If you want to go to the South Gate (and you are at the Bell Tower, of course) take the Nan Dajie.Finally, Xi Dajie leads to the West Gate.
It doesnt mean you can't get lost in Xi'An anymore but with this knowledge you know how to get to the center of the city.
As I told you, these terms are omnipresent in China. For me it was easier to remember these vocabulary when I used these mnemonic:
Beijing means Northern capital, Nanjing is the Southern capital, Donjing is the Eastern capital. (you will be surprised when I tell you, Dongjing is not located in China,it means Tokyo in Chinese)
Maybe you noticed there is the term 'Xi' in the name of Xi'An. It means: Western Peace.
I could tell you some more examples but I just wanna repeat...
Bei - North, Dong - East, Nan - South, Xi - West. No, no, I am not a teacher.. ;-)
Chinese use another direction... to the middle, the center. This is called: Zhong. For example, 'Zhong Guo' literally means: Empire of the Middle.
In the Chinese language there are more Bei, Nan, Xi or Dong. Even if these tones are equal they may have different meanings.I think,if you see any steet sign,the meaning should be the point of the compass.But if you remember the chinese caracters... THEY are unique.
Maybe my tip was helpful for you, one of the most important tip: don't forget to take the address of your hotel with you.It should be in Chinese,taxi drivers often don't know the english name.
Air flights to Xian
We caught the plane from Shenzhen to Xian. The airline was China Southern and cost: 650 Yuan plus 50 Yuan fuel surcharge plus 100 Yuan other taxes. The flight itself took two and quarter hours and a very smooth flight. Our flight was for 9.15 am but we left at 9.45am and arrived at Xian at 12.05pm. We were carrying wine in our hand luggage bags. Customs requested that we have them wrapped in a polystyrene box at the packing area just before you go through customs. Cost about 5 yuan. The box was then put with the rest of our luggage.
The Great Mosque
Located in the heart of the Muslim Quarter is one of the architectural and cultural gems of the city, the Great Mosque. This place feels distinctly Middle Eastern but one look at the beautiful structure and you know you are still in China. The ancient mosque has an overwhelming Chinese influence in the art and architecture of the complex. Originally set up in 742 AD during the Tang dynasty, it has been enlarged during the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. Walking around the courtyards, pavilions, and gardens has a meditative effect on the visitor. Chinese gods consistent with a Buddhist temple are present here in calligraphy, sculpture, and paintings. Despite the images of dragons, phoenixes, and other mythical Chinese creatures there are colorful decorative patterns in the walls that is more consistent with the Islamic art and doctrines of no images in religious art. The Hui people have been able to practice their religion despite an atheistic government and their exquisite mosque seems to have weathered the storm of the Cultural Revolution and those awful Red Guards.
The Drum tower is similar to the Bell tower (and not far from it), it is a smaller building which marks the boundary to Xi-an's very interesing and entertaining Muslim Quarter. It was first erected during the Ming dynasty in 1380.
I enjoyed the Drum tower more than the Bell tower for some reason, even though the tower is smaller, there were less people and I was able to look around at my own pace.
Hours: 8am - 7pm
(or Y25 for both towers)
the terracotta Army - Pitt 2
This pit has been largely left undisturbed until they can work out how to preserve the color
However, there are some solo figures on display including the 1 figure unearthed intact. - Look at his back for one of the few remaining traces of color.