On June 2nd, we began the overnight train ride to Xi’an. It was a new experience for many, especially because of the tight space. Each room had two bunk beds, with about two feet of space in between the two beds. Many of us did not sleep well that night because of constant motion and noise. All of us were glad to get off the train in Xi’an at 9:00 am the following morning.
On June 3rd, the day we got off the train, we went to go see the Shaanxi History Museum. It had many artifacts from the Tang Dynasty, as well as many other early Chinese Civilizations. The museum was an outlet into what life was like back then for Chinese people in the Shaanxi province. On this day, we ate lunch at a vegetarian restaurant next to a Buddhist temple. This restaurant and others near it are most likely vegetarian, because the people who attend this temple are part of the sect that does not eat meat. After a delicious lunch, we went to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. The tour guide told us the story of the Pagoda, and how it was named. She said that the Monkey King’s master got lost in the desert and was dying of thirst, and on the seventh day without water, a big wild goose flew over him, leading him to water. When he returned back to his home, he named the Pagoda after the goose. A pagoda is a place of worship that also houses sacred texts, as well as other religious relics. It also often has many tiers. After that, we went to a dumpling banquet which included Tang Dynasty music and dance. We got to try one of every dumpling on the menu. Then, we watched the show. There were about eight acts, and we saw many unusual instruments including the Gu-zheng, and Er-hu. Most of the dances included a form of ribbon dancing where women have colorful dresses with very long flow sleeves. All in all, it was a very fun day.
|The Big Wild Goose Pagoda|
The next day, June 4th, we left the hotel at 9:00 am to go see the ancient city wall. The wall was originally created for fortification and unity purposes. It is one giant square in the middle of Xi’an, with a perimeter of 13.7km. All twelve of us rode bikes the whole way around. It took most of us around 50 minutes, but there were some stragglers. It was interesting to see the ancient stone wall against the backdrop of skyscrapers and highways.
After this workout, we went to see the Terra-cotta Warriors. These warriors were created to protect the first emperor of China in his afterlife. They are quite old, so many pieces were falling apart, and needed a lot of support. The coolest thing about this experience was seeing the two terra-cotta chariots in the exhibition hall. The purpose of the first one is to lead the way, and the second one is for the emperor. Next, we visited the Muslim Quarter. Here you can purchase lots of local food and drinks, though the tour guide suggested not to for sanitary purposes. You can also buy many souvenirs here, many of which highlight local art such as paper cutting. Some of us visited a shop where you could pay to sit with your feet in a tank of fish. The fish are called doctor fish because they eat the dead skin of of your body. It was quite a ticklish experience, and highly recommended. Finally, we went to eat hot pot. Each of us got our own little pot, and we enjoyed cooking our own food, and dipping it in our own signature sauces.
|At the Muslim Quarter|