First Day Xian

May 5, 2008

Tom – We were picked up at 7am by a fellow who looked like Odd Job from a James Bond movie. 

He drove us to the airport for our two hour flight to Xian on Air China. 


We were met at the airport by our guide Summer who directed us to our car and driver and we were off for our first tour to the tomb of emperor Jingdi.  Jingdi was a Han dynasty emperor who ruled from 188-141 BC.  The burial mound, museum, exhibits, excavated pits, etc. were excellent. 

Museum display

The terracotta figurines (over 50,000) buried here are about half size (the famous Army of Terracotta Warriors are full size) and had moveable wooden arms and silk robes which are now disintegrated. 


In addition to the soldiers, they included eunuchs, servants, domesticated animals and even female cavalry on horseback. 

We paid to see an interesting holographic show depicting some of the history but unfortunately the English audio headphone system did not work.


The next stop was the Big Wild Goose (Dayan) Pagoda of Da Ci’en Temple.  It is located in the SE section of Xian, formerly Chang’an which was the capital for many early dynasties in China and the eastern end of the Silk Road. 

It was built in 652 to hold the Buddhist sutras brought back from India by Xuan Zang.  His travels inspired one of the most well known works of Chinese literature – “Journey to the West.”  The Pagoda is surrounded by the Da Ci’en Temple and there is also a Tang Dynasty Arts Museum where they stamp your ticket with your animal sign from the Chinese Zodiac; Helen’s is a rooster and mine is a goat!  This is an element of Chinese Fengshui which is supposed to determine your personality, destiny, marriage, career and lucky time!


The guide then took us to a Tea Tasting associated with another huge showroom of Chinese crafts.  The Tea Tasting was interesting but we were out of there quickly when the sales pitches started – not how we want to be spending our time!


On the way to the Bell Tower Hotel we stopped at and climbed up to the top of the City Wall. 

City view from wall to Bell Tower

After hotel check-in we visited the Bell Tower. 

From top of Bell Tower

Another view

There is also a Drum Tower.  They date from the 14th century – the large Bell was rung at dawn and the Drums would signal nightfall.  Helen was amazed at the number of flowers in the city and that they were in pots (not planted) so they could be easily replaced if any died.  We did a quick trip through the bazaar and visited the Great Mosque before having to run back and change for the Tang Dynasty dinner show. 


The food, service and performance were outstanding!


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