Vernon’s Cindy Keith won a once-in-a-lifetime all-inclusive trip to China through Black Press Media and the Abbotsford Chamber ofCommerce and now – she’s sharing her experience with you.
Blog #2: Sensational Xi’an!
By: Cindy Keith
As the Beijing airport is undergoing major renovations (travel in China is growing so quickly!), we ended up getting an early start to our flight for Xi’an.
We then had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Banpo Museum and Gardens. It featured a prehistoric (matriarchal!) village site of almost 7,000 years ago! Imagine a Neolithic village discovered in 1953, containing the carbon remains of several well-organized settlements!
The archaeological collection was very well-preserved and presented. One of my favourite things about Xi’an is that after an earthquake devastated most of the town, a new wall was constructed in 1370 during the Ming Dynasty and mostly remains intact to this day and circumnavigates the city.
We walked around the top (some even rented bikes!), peering down at the city parks where families played, exercised and I caught a make-shift ‘jam session’ under one of the little pavilions.
It was wonderful to see this charming walled city from above!
Driving around Xi’an, I was shocked at how many ‘near miss’ traffic jams there were – with cars and electric/push bikes (whose operators rarely don helmets)! Apparently their 6/7-rail metro system is almost completed (three now exist) and should make things flow better.
We culminated our evening by enjoying some tasty and unique dumplings for dinner then”Tang style” entertainment. The costumes and facial makeup were glorious and the performance was so energetic!
Our next day, we ventured out to visit the Small Wild Goose Pagoda. Construction began in 707 and it measured 44 metres tall at its time of completion and was built to store the translations of Buddhist sutras.
The massive earthquake, the 1556 Shaanxi province earthquake eventually damaged the tower and reduced it to a height of 43.4m. We loved the peaceful grounds with locals practicing Tai Chi and admired the Peony (national flower of China) gardens.
One of the oldest cities in China, Xi’an is the Silk Road’s starting point and home to the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang (the first emperor of China!).
Immediately after his ascension to the throne in third century BC, he ordered the construction of these life-size Terracotta soldiers, including their carriages and horses to be built inside his mausoleum.
It is a form of funerary art; buried with the emperor between 210-209 BC, in an effort to be protected in his afterlife.
The figures were discovered in 1974 by local farmers. It was much more extensive than I recalled…clearly over the past 22 years local archeologists have been working very hard! This is now deemed the eighth Wonder of the World and it was absolutely fascinating to explore and conceptualize for us all.
Being in China for several days now feels great. Having not ever taken a bus tour or traveled exclusively in high-end hotels is something I definitely need to reconsider! One of the best parts before heading out from the Okanagan, was that I didn’t have to do all the planning typical of individual travel – much less pre-travel stress for sure!
Not having to pay for every meal and arrange each method of travel is sure a welcome change.
I’ve realized that although the preparation stage of a trip is actually what makes it based more on individual preferences, and can be part of the fun when it all comes together as you imagine it will, this is sure a great alternative…and I dare say, it has definitely raised the (proverbial) bar.
Check out her first blog here and stay tuned for her next blog post in a few days.