Ceramics and porcelain are some of the most distinguished arts in China. Though mainly concentrated in the older days, the collection of Provincial Museum is very rich, showing very uncommon pieces and techniques... at least for a non-expert as me!
Around the huge area encircled by the walls, a modern city seems to match the development seen in the other big cities of China.
Concentrated in the interior of the old town, and the external highlights (terracotta warriors and tombs) we had no time to explore that part of the city, only having of it a general idea caught from the bus.
Two days is really a short time to a detailed visit.
The room is large and beautiful. People sit around tables, in a mix of theatre and restaurant that announces noise and movements during the show.
Imagine that, reading the list, you state: Port wine. It can't be serious!
Being Portuguese, of course I tried to laugh about the thing, investigating what the hell they call “Port wine”. Can you imagine?
Well, it was… Port wine. Portuguese. True and honest!
A good company for a noisy and agitated show, I thought.
Eating drinking and talking was BEFORE the show. When it started, the silence was respectful, and we could enjoy each detail, including the nice set of musician ladies in a box, the colours, the dances, the music, the Port…
TANG DINASTY SHOW. Great!
Everywhere in China, people work hard to recover touristy spots.
That was mainly seen in Beijing, but also in Xi’an. Many monuments exhibit covered facades, but also there are works on-going with visitors around.
The Big Wild Goose Pagoda was no exception, but the disturbing to the visitors was minimum.
When you visit the Terra-cotta Warrior site you are driven from the car park to the museums by golf cart. As you drive you pass a lovely park on your left. After your visit, the preferred option is for you to walk back through the avenue of shops. Our local guide was kind to us and took us back through this lovely, peaceful park.
There was a large grassy area studded with Ginko trees and a path that wound in and out of flowering May Bush and Dog Roses and beds of Irises. It was a great way to finish our visit in amongst the perfumed flowers buzzing with honey bees.
If you are with a local guide ask them to take you this way.
I spent my last day of 2007 in a uncommon way,. Climbing a mountain in a chilly winter day. It’s a forest park in Qinlin Mountains, 74 km west of Xi’an. The space of the park is over 2600 ha. Based on different views, the park is made of five areas, including 3100 meter height peak, pastures, waterfalls, streams and red birch woods. It’s better to visit the park in spring, summer and fall. It’s one of the most popular resorts around Xi’an, because it’s much cooler and quiet. People can stay in the park and search every spot in 2 days.
Though it’s not a good season to visit the park, I enjoyed the views I saw, blue sky, frozen waterfalls, snow covered paths and flying hawks.
Anytime, the temperature here is at least 5 degrees lower than of Xi’an. So, bringing an extra coat and a pot of hot coffee are good idea, otherwise you’ll catch a cold like me did.
A highlight of this trip was Famen Si (Temple), approx. 120 km west of Xi’an. The temple and museum were amazing, and it was not overrun with tourists. We did not see any other caucasians at the temple, and most other people seemed to be there to pray.
In 147 AD, King Asoka of India distributed Buddhist relics to Buddhist colonies throughout Asia to atone for his warlike life. The Famen Si was built to house the finger bone of Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism. Emperors in the Sui (581 - 618) and Tang (618 - 907) Dynasties believed that worshipping the bones of Sakyumi would bring riches and peace to the land, and made offerings of treasure, kept near the bones housed in a crypt below the 13-tiered stupa (pagoda). After the fall of the Tang Dynasty, the bones and treasures were forgotten until 1987, when renovations began on the stupa.
A museum was built to house the treasures from the Tang Dynasty, and a new vault was built below the stupa to store the finger bones. The bones are watched over by a chanting monk and they are protected by the equivalent of the door to a bank vault.
Our Lonely Planet guidebook advised to take the 8 am bus, so we arrived at the station at 7:35 and boarded the bus...only to discover that it did not leave at 8. It would leave when it was full. By the time we left at 8:35 I was already tired of sitting on the bus and dreading the 3 hour ride to the temple. What a pleasant surprise when it only took 2 1/2 hours! With the combined efforts of the bus driver and fellow passengers we learned that the first bus back to Xi’an left at 1 pm and the last at 3 pm...and that they left when they were full. Needless to say, we did not risk missing the last bus, and arrived back in Xi’an in time to wander in the Muslim Quarter.
Because Xi'an was the capitol of China for over 1000 years, the countryside around the city contains dozens of tomb sites of emperors and other nobles. Many of them are earthen mounds, often in the shape of a pyramid. Almost none have been excavated to date. On the drive in from the airport to Xi'an, you can see a couple of them off in the distance amidst the fields. The largest pyramid is the tomb of emperor Qin Shi Huangdi of the Qin dynasty, which is guarded by the famous terra cotta army.
This real village outside Xi'an is not widely known, and as it is where people live, is only open to a few visitors.
Leaving our bus near some modern houses, we walked up a rough road to a brickworks using clay cut from a hill nearby. Stacks of bricks were drying in the sun, waiting to be fired in the kilns, others were being loaded on to carts to be taken away. Passing this, we continued up hill at first passing walls. We were invited, by arrangement, into one of the yards, where we found a brick outhouse containing fuel and an enormous wok, fanned by bellows. The moth of the cave was bricked over, but inside there was a main room, with curtained off beds, a small living area complete with television and bread loaves proving, and a cave at the back for storage.
Further up, houses were not walled off, and, near the caves used for housing animals there was the primitive village well, which only had a little water left.
We decided to see some of the city within the walls on our morning "off" in Xi'an. We took a cab to just inside the wall, and immediately took off along a side street. It became quite obvious this was an Art district -- most all of the shops sold painting supplies - brushes, papers and the like, and there were several wonderful art galleries we visited. There was also the gate to a beautiful school (?) I'm guessing it was an art institute. There was a guard at the gate who told us the school was closed (for the weekend? for the semester?). I'll have to hit the library to see if I can identify it.
(More text and pictures will be added to this tip!)
Old Country Seat is located in Qinling Mountain, 160 kilometers from Xi'an. Only those who have adventure spirit, unique taste and necessary endurance can see its beauty.
I walked over 40 kilometers in the mountains, climbing up, ascent and dscent in two days to visit there. Though it was so cold after sunset, I was glad I could sleep on the bed in farmhouse. I suffered sun, snow and heavy rain on the journey, at last I was almost wet.
Thanks for my friend, he offered me a spare dry clothing.
But, all difficulties are nothing, compared with the views, the feelings.
I put the pics about it in the travelogues, please see it, you'll like it.
Jia Wutai Mountain is also one of the Zhongnan Mountain. Southeast of Xi'an, 30 kms, one hour driving. Because there is a ten-kilometer bumpy road. It is ignored by most of travellers, but I enjoyed the scenery, the quiet path surrounded with wild flowers, birds' singing and sometimes a squirrel passing through the path.
Of course, I was impressed by its steep path, can it be called the path? Jia Wutai Mountain has another name-Junior Huashan Mountain. The altitude is 1870 meters. I spent 6 hours to climb it.
Please see the pics in my travelogues.
Through my window, I can see endless Zhongnan Mountains almost everyday. If someone stands on the high point of south of Xi'an, he can also see the mountains in the sunny day. Zhongnan Mountains lie in the south of Xi'an, 30 kilometers away from the city. several kilometers long from east to west. Green peaks are surrounded by clouds.
The South Wutai Mountain was seemed as the most mystical and beautiful scenery of Zhongnan Mountain in ancient time. In three hours climbers can get to the top of Wutai mountain. It's cool even in the summer. Buddhist and monks living in small temples are kind and religious.
400 kilometers from Xi'an, the Hukou Waterfall is the second-largest waterfall in China ,the only yellow waterfall of the world. It's on the Yellow River which is called the mother river of Chinese nation.
The yellow river narrows here from 250-meter-wide into a 50-meter deep pool. The shape is like a mouth of a kettle, in Chinese, Kukou.
The width of the waterfall changes according to seasons, in winter you can see an iced waterfall, it must be amazing. But I haven't visited it in winter, so I haven't seen the view.
Splendid, the only word, especially see it in sunset and sunrise, while the trip is a little bit difficult, that's the reason I put this tip into off the beaten path.
The first way is renting a car (with a driver), 2 days; the second way is go to Yan'an by train, then approach to Hukou waterfall, 2.5 days.
Between the Bell Tower & Drum Tower is a lovely mall where a number of locals/tourists flies the kites (chained). The area is windy and the kites takes off without difficulty.
Cost of a set of "kite-lets" is about 2RMB.
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