My Xian Trip, 2007
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Xian Trip - January 2007
In my recent Xian trip, I have re-visited the terra cotta warriors and the newly opened Han Yang Ling. Since Judy and Mark have just reported these in their recent Xian travel tale, I’ve therefore decided to focus on eating and shopping as well as the Famen Temple which is a must-go for any Xian visit. I’ll tell you why.
Eating in Xian
Enjoy yummy food is a highlight of China travel. Noodles are very famous in Xian. During my recent Xian trip, I had noodles for almost every meal. Most of them were in soup or in thin sauces. Noodles can be thin or thick. I was extremely interested in the belt noodle. It had a width of a belt however very smooth and yummy.
BBQ sticks of beef or mutton are my favourites. After dark, the Muslim Street was full of people as well as BBQ hawkers. Locals can buy beef at ¥0.2 per stick, foreigners at ¥1 for 3 sticks. Mutton is slightly more expensive. Unfortunately I was treated as a foreigner, though I am Chinese and spoke Mandarin. My tour guide told me he had a record of eating 300 sticks while having beer with a friend. There were many other Muslim snacks available. You might want to keep a record of how many you’ve tasted.
Dumpling feast is another must-eat in Xian. The feast I had had 16 courses. They were of different shapes however tasted very similar, except a couple of them were sweet.
The most unique one was the pearl hot pot. The size of the dumplings were just like a pearl. It was something people invented to please Empress Dowager Cixi (Qing Dynasty) while she lost her appetite after escaping from the capital city.
There was a little ceremony in serving the pearl hot pot. Waiters had all lights off and lit the hot pot in complete darkness while briefing us on its history. The number of pearl dumplings in our bowl represented some kind of goodies. Chinese had a lot of goodies associated with numbers.
The bowl I had got 4 tiny dumplings in it, so I was blessed to have luck throughout the four seasons in a year. Even Empress Dowager Cixi didn’t pick up any from the pot, her clever court members interpreted it as “nothing to worry about!’
View my full dumpling feast photos
Souvenir Shopping in Xian
On my way to the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses Museum, I visited its replication factory. Of course they won’t show us the production line of how they reproduce the terra cotta figures. The showroom was very big and sold all kinds of souvenirs. However if you do want to buy something in memory of your Xian trip, please buy either or both of these: a kneeling archer and a tri-colour horse.
The kneeling archer is one of the most valuable figures among all the terra cotta warriors. The archer was unearthed as a whole, almost in perfect condition, no repairing needed – after buried underground for 2,000 years. I had some of these figures at home, so I chose to take photo with a life-size soldier.
Everyone visiting Xian should take home with a tri-colour horse. Tri-colour is actually the pottery making skills from Tang Dynasty, and horse was the most classic figure among all. In Chinese, three also means multi, therefore a tri-colour horse is actually a multi-colour pottery horse. The horses are glossy, shinny and with lovely postures.
I liked the Zhao Ling Six Horses very much. These six horses were the warring partners of Emperor Taizong of Tang Dynasty, Li Shimin. Shimin deeply loved these six horses whom had helped him founded the Tang Dynasty. Therefore he had his craftsmen made anaglyphs of them. Since then, people started to reproduce these six horses with tri-colour pottery skills. This is a must-buy souvenir for any Xian trip.
Famen Temple was about two hours from downtown Xian. Trip to here was really a valuable experience. A Buddha’s tooth relic was discovered in the underground palace in 1987. Three forgeries were kept there to protect the real one. All of them were kept in 8- or 5-layers of boxes, made of gold, silver and wood. Of course the wooden ones were deteriorated, but all others were displayed in a museum built on site.
I found Famen Temple an extremely interesting destination for my Xian trip, though I am not a Buddhist. Grave robbers had been very active in China. Travel to an unspoiled site with treasures is almost impossible. However, all the treasures kept at the underground palace of the Famen Temple were not subjected to robbery at all. There was a stele on which recorded 2,499 items of tributes. Archeologists were able to find all of them according to the descriptions on the stele.
Buddhism had a very brilliant history in Tang Dynasty, so did the Famen Temple. Many emperors deeply admired the Buddha and had given all kinds of extremely valuable tributes to the temple. They were now kept at the museum. Unfortunately I was not allowed to view the silk items as they were easily deteriorated under light. Our tour guide told us only upon special request that visitors were allowed to view the silk items for five seconds.
Sightseeing at Downtown Xian
Walking on the streets of downtown Xian had a feeling of going back to Tang Dynasty of 1,300 years ago. All buildings surrounding the Big Wild Goose Pagoda had to be in Tang style, even a lamppost and the lights. Xian government had requested this. No wonder the KFC at the corner of the Cultural Square was in a two-storey Tang style building. Perhaps this is the most unique KFC in the world.
A Xian trip to Chinese might have an additional impact. Most names here are associated with Tany Dynasty. Qu Jiang Hotel, Kai Yuan Shopping Mall, as so on. I study Chinese history, so these names made sense to me. For foreigners who want to visit Xian, I would suggest them to do some readings regarding Tang Dynasty history before coming, as it would certainly add colour to their Xian trip.
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