To Xi’An (and back)
Of course, if you’ve ever read anything about China, there are certain historical sites that almost everybody knows about (either from history books or TV programs) – like the Summer Palace, the Great Wall China, and the famous terracotta warriors on guard for Emperor Qin. I’ve known about all of these places since elementary school, and since we had a holiday break coming up, I and four other classmates decided to go see Xi’An, the capital of ancient China.
Ever since arriving to China, I have always wanted to go to Xi’An. Not only are the terracotta warriors there, but the city itself is a living historical relic – a city with over three thousand years of history. Not to say I was transported back into time when we stepped off the train there. But it was interesting to see the modernness of the city side-by-side with the historical sites dotting the city center.
So what were the highlights of my trip? I thought you’d never ask.
1. Seeing the terracotta warriors. It seems like a touristy response to the question, but think about it. I have gone through twelve years of pre-college education learning or hearing about these warriors. And the instant I saw them, they became more than just the pictures in the history books. It didn’t hurt that we had a fantastic tour guide either! Her name was Ying, and she was instrumental in providing background information, stories, and jokes that surround the warriors and their discovery.
2. Walking along the city wall. Xi’An is home to the best preserved and one of the oldest city walls in all of China, dating back all the way to 194 BCE, when it was first constructed. Bike rentals were available so one could zoom around and see the four sides of the city center in about an hour and a half. I really enjoyed the peacefulness of the wall. It was a gorgeous day and I was able to meander and think about the wall when it was in use.
3. Going through the Muslim Quarter. Many people don’t realize that China is made up of 56 ethnic groups, with Hanzu being the dominant group. That being said, there is a large population of Huimin people living in Xi’An – an ethnic group that follows Islam. The Quarter is right next to the beautiful drum tower, and was spilling over with weekend visitors. I loved walking through it because of all of the different kinds of foods one could see and try – things from paomo soup to mutton kebobs, honey cake and mochi were sold all along the streets. We found trinkets and souvenirs here as well, and stumbled upon the traditional Chinese shadow puppetry here!