Our second stop in China took us to the Northwest area, to one of the oldest cities; Xian which means ‘western peace’. With a population of 8 million, 92% of them are traditional Chinese and the remaining 8% come from other ethnic groups, including 70,000 Muslims.
The main reason why tourists visit Xian is to see the Terracotta Warriors. They were first built in 210 BC as ordered by the first Emperor of China, who wanted to be protected in his afterlife. He had first ordered soldiers to be buried alive in order to protect him. However, a trusty advisor said that bodies would decay and he would not be protected forever. Therefore, building terracotta warriors would overcome this issue. The soldiers were first discovered in 1974 by local farmers who were digging in the area to build a new well. To date, 3 pits have been open to the public. Approximately, 8,000 soldiers have been found and put back together. Only 1 soldier (Lucky) has been found so far who did not need rebuilding. The details on the soldiers are very impressive and many small features can be seen to this day. The different armour/hairstyles also depict the rankings of the soldiers. The warriors were originally all painted in bright colours. However, after being exposed to the climate now, the paint all disappeared within 30 minutes.
Fortification of Xi’an
Xian is separated into 2 main parts; outer wall and the inner wall. Walking around the wall will give some views of the city. Along the wall are 4 main gates; North, East, South, and West with some smaller gates in between. To see the most authentic part of the wall, visitors should visit the South Gate. As the wall was built in the 14th century, the views aren’t as amazing now as modern skyscrapers tower over it. The wall is approximately 13km and visitors can either walk or cycle around it. This was also the place where Mike became a mini-celeb. The kids were loving talking to him, shame it wasn’t reciprocated. ?
The bell tower is situated in the centre of Xi’an, inside the walls. At night it’s really nicely lit up. I think you can pay to go inside during the day, but we didn’t bother. This is also great to get your bearings when you are wandering around.
If you visit Xi’an then you have to take a wander around the Muslim quarter. It’s located within the city walls and is west of the Bell Tower. It is a busy, walking (and moped) street with lots of local street stalls. The food is really nice and most stalls have seating at the back. Be careful of your belongings!
We shall see you all next time in Chengdu, hopefully, I’ll be cuddling a panda!