Xian Travel Tale - Judy & Mark
I just received this travel tale from one of my China Travel Golden Route fans. Please enjoy reading and see what Judy and Mark has to say about their Xian tour.
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Xian Travel Tale 2007
Author: Judy and Mark
I wanted to tell your readers about our trip to China.... China is MORE than a great little corner of the world. It's so big and has so much history and culture that it could easily overwhelm you. We decided that what you have to do if you want to visit China is break it down into a whole series of great little corners of the world. Find a few cities you want to visit as Anna suggests, then explore each as a great little corner of the world. On a recent custom tour to China, we visited Beijing, Xian, and Guilin, with a Yangtze River Cruise in the middle.
When we travel, even when it's on a custom tour where much of the itinerary is planned, we love to build in some free time so we can explore on our own. Custom tours also give you the flexibility to stop at an extra museum or temple if you want.
Let's use Xian as a good example. We went to see the Terra Cotta Warriors... that's the main tourist draw, and I have to admit, before our trip, I really didn't know too much more about Xian than that.
Our research before the trip told us to see the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the City Walls, so OK.. that was in our tour. But once we saw the city we realized it was a great little corner of the world, and we were glad of the extra time we had there. Now I know some people might want that free time to sit down and catch your breath during a tour, but we have a hard time sitting still.
Our guide pointed out the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower in the center of town, but we wanted to see more. We climbed up both of them. There were exhibits in both and history to read and in the Drum Tower we came upon a drum concert that was wonderful. And they both gave us different views of the city.
At the city walls, our guide took us up one of the entrance gates to see how high and wide the walls were.... not enough! The next morning we rented bikes and rode the whole 12 km around the city on top of the city walls. We could peer over the edge when we heard music and find people ball room dancing or doing Tai Chi.
We saw into side streets and residential areas. Talk about viewing a great little corner of the world! That ride around the walls gave us a whole new perspective of Xian. And there were surprises scattered around the top of the wall.... an exhibit of catapults, replicas of the terra cotta soldiers and horses to pose by... and the exquisite painting on the watch towers and gate houses.
We had time to wander in the Muslim Quarter and find the Great Mosque. The jumble of the bazaar was exciting, but the gardens of the mosque provided a quiet spot and we felt every bit as relaxed as if we had just sat in our hotel room, but we saw and learned so much more.
Our tour included the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, but we insisted on seeing the Little Wild Goose Pagoda too. Our guide told us there was nothing there, but that wasn't true. There wasn't as much to see as at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, but we didn't want to miss it.... and with just the four of us in the car, we could do that.
I saved the best surprise for us for last. Our guide told us about the Han Yang Ling Museum which only opened a couple of weeks before we were there. It was on the way to the airport, so we stopped. It should be on every tour itinerary as far as we're concerned! It housed another army, that of the Western Han Emperor Lui Qi.
The excavation is ongoing, but it is housed in the museum and under a glass floor so visitors can see the archeologists at work. The soldiers are only two feet tall. They are clay figures, but they had wooden arms and silk clothing all of which has been lost through the centuries. Exhibits showed what they would have looked like. There were also herds of animals that an army might need.... horses of course, but also cows and goats and sheep and chickens and geese.
There were pots and pans and cooking stoves and money. And because we had heard very little about them, we felt like it was a great discovery...and nothing makes you think you've found a great little corner of the world like your own discovery!
Anna has some great tips..... we just wanted to add a little of our own story.
Want to read about another great little corner of the world...? We think there are hundreds of them. Travel with us to explore them at our website MouseToursTravels.com Explore China, then join us and plan the next great little corner of the world you want to visit.
Happy Travels! Judy and Mark
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