A Travellerspoint blog

April 2011

Xi'an - Day 2

Reporting from Jinqiao

overcast 10 °C
View Terracotta Warriors on aboo10's travel map.

Have been home again and caught up with regular life and haven't had time to write about the rest of what we saw in Xi'an. It is a fairly small spot, but because of the Warrior drawcard and the need to travel that far and spend at least 2 days, the city is quite geared up for tourists, and by that I mean that every single 'attraction' has an entry fee of at least 20RMB - not individually expensive, but when paying for a group of 4 frequently costs 100RMB (AUD15), fortunately at the moment the kidlets are still short enough to be free most of the time. In China, admissions are based on how tall the child is, a zoo, or an aquarium, or a particularly kid-friendly museum might have the price kick in at 100cm, but less kid-focussed spots might start charging at 120cm. For the record, Didi is 83cm tall and Jie Jie is 104cm, and were free at everything in Xi'an.

Our hotel was located centrally, directly opposite the Drum Tower, and as I previously mentioned conveniently right next to the bus stop from the airport. The hotel itself was fair to middling for the price, the room and bathroom were clean and comfortable, but I think the rollaway bed might have been stored somewhere fusty, musty and dusty as the kids and I were well bitten during the night.

Our day in Xi'an started with a visit to the Bell Tower, where we were lucky enough to see a traditional bell ringing performance when we were in the Bell Tower, then walked down to the city wall and went for a tour around it on a golf buggy at break neck speed over the cobblestones, then a roam around the Muslim Quarter for lunch, and a look at the usual Chinese collections of dongxi, followed by a visit to the Drum Tower (on a combo ticket with the Bell Tower) and then ice cream at Haagen Daaz. By the way, we didn't have the pram, so Didi was in our baby carrier on my back for most of the walking day, and Jie Jie was intermittently in the Ergo... when we got back to Shanghai Mike and I were definitely a couple of centimetres shorter!

Waipo (aka Grandma or my Mum) ringing the Bell Tower bell
The performance hall in the Bell Tower
On the balcony of the Bell Tower
On the Xi'an Old City Wall
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Our golf buggy Wall tour
Delicious beef skewers cooked over high heat coals, and stinky hearts drying in the sun
Drum Tower

Posted by aboo10 20:31 Archived in China Tagged xi'an family_travel Comments (0)

Xi'an - Day 1

Reporting from Jinqiao

overcast 9 °C
View Terracotta Warriors on aboo10's travel map.

This time I think photos can say more than my words...

We left to go on our private tour at 9ish am, and despite having insisted that the first place we went was to the Warriors, the actual first stop was at a 'souvenir' shop where we were shown how Terracotta Warriors are made. The lady in the first photo is trimming the excess off the warriors after they have come out of their mould, and before they are left to dry. The second photo is of a three quarter life size mould.
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We bought 4 warriors here at 35cm tall. These were 280rmb each, so we spent a bit on our own souvenirs, but like the fact that our warriors actually are from Xi'an. We left the factory and travelled about 40mins to the site of the Terracotta Army.

Eventually we got to the Warriors, and this first photo is inside Pit 1. The enormity and quantity of the warrior army really hits you when you first go inside the pit, which is like a big shed. Not all the warriors have yet been unearthed, so the first few rows are complete, and all the way along you can see where the archaelogists are still working. The pit is about 280m long and 60m wide. Clearly we weren't the only visitors here today!


This one is on the steps of the exhibition hall for Pit 2. My family:

This warrior and horse have been taken out of the pit, and displayed in a glass cabinet. It is one of the 'perfect' specimens and so is being protected from any damage.

After visiting the three pits that are currently open for viewing, we went into a 'souvenir' shop where the Farmer who found the first terracotta warrior when sinking a well on his farm in 1974 now has a weekend job, signing and chopping (stamping) the guide book and posing for photos with families just like ours!

Having now seen the warriors for real, it strikes me that you can be prepared to see them, and not be surprised by the layout or the quantity, because it looks like photos and images seen previously, but I wasn't prepared for the outside areas, it wasn't in a field. The area has been concreted and landscaped and feels a bit like a university campus, which caters for the number of tourists that visit each year, and of course the space to accommodate the ever increasing number of stall holders selling dongxi. There is a fourth pit currently being prepared for excavation as well, but it is not being started until the exhibition hall above is complete, which protects the archaelogical site and enables visitors to look.

After we left the warriors, we had a little nap in the car and then woke up to visit Wild Goose Pagoda. It was a lovely pagoda in beautiful surroundings, although outside it was a bit like a theme park as the whole area had been reconstructed to be like it might have been during the Tang dynasty. But after all the walking, we were really a bit too exhausted to fully enjoy all the decorated rafters, temples and towers.
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We were glad to get back to the hotel, and were all exhausted... especially after backpacking the kids around! But wow, what a day!!

Posted by aboo10 06:08 Archived in China Comments (1)

Checking in and organising excursions...

Reporting from Xi'an

overcast 8 °C
View Terracotta Warriors on aboo10's travel map.

We made it... we are in our hotel. We arrived after dark last night, and caught the airport bus to the city, which conveniently stops right outside our hotel - the Melody, although I haven't been anywhere yet, except the hotel foyer from our window I can see the Drum Tower and a beautiful laid out with little coloured squares of garden beds.

While Mike and Waigong (my Dad, otherwise known as Bob) were checking in, I got straight onto working out how we were going to get to the Bingmayong (Terracotta Warriors). With a lot of Chinglish and Engese we have booked a 7 seater van, with English speaking tour guide, driver to take us to the Warriors first and then on the way back to Xi'an to Dragon Pagoda. This is apparently not the usual route, as most finish at the Terracotta Warriors, but with negotiation, we are not paying for the entry into the sites for the guide (this has screwed us before, so I was ready to negotiate that).

Then crashed into bed for a good night sleep. Not the quietest hotel I've ever stayed in... but comfortable. Now breakfast, and then we're being picked up for our adventure at 9am!!

Warriors, here we come!!

Posted by aboo10 16:39 Archived in China Tagged xi'an terracotta_warriors Comments (3)

Off to Xi'an

Reporting from Jinqiao

View Terracotta Warriors on aboo10's travel map.

It's been a long time since entries, and I didn't post at all when I took the two kids back to Melbourne for 7 weeks home leave over Christmas. But managed lots of exciting activities, including a few days up on the Gold Coast, a visit to the penguins, lots of swimming and catching up with old friends.

Today is the first day of the school holiday for spring break! We have one glorious week of holidays, and Tuesday is a Chinese holiday called Qing Ming - or tomb sweeping day, which is when the Chinese go and tend to their family graves and pray to their ancestors. So the tomb sweeping holiday seemed like a perfect opportunity to go and visit the biggest tomb ever, that of the Emporer Qin Shi Huangdi and his army of Terracotta Warriors to protect him in his afterlife.

We fly this afternoon, and are accompanied by my parents who are visiting China for the fourth time, but for the first time are venturing to another part of China, the Shaanxi Province. They recently saw an exhibition of the Terracotta Warriors in Sydney, and ever since have been champing at the bit to get there... I don't think we'll need to hire a tour guide this time, I think Dad will be able to tell us everything!!!

Posted by aboo10 16:26 Archived in China Tagged xi'an family_travel Comments (1)

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