Tuesday, 6 April 2010

I've been to China!!!...to Xi'An

This should have been posted about 5 months ago, but me and constant blogging don't come together as you've probably noticed by now :) But here's what i wrote on the spot, there...at the time :)

"Phew!!! That was close!! Just made it to Haikou airport where my journey in China starts. After an “interesting” crew change day with a change in plans followed by a lot of changes in the schedule of the new plan, we finally got off the boat in SanYa, the only problem was … It was too late! Too late for me to catch the bus that’ll take me to Haikou because if I did, I would have never caught the plane.
But thanks to a great shore representative and a great agent, and thanks to the drivers I got, I was driven in a car to Haikou airport and arrived there quite ahead of what I was expecting, and here I am sitting by the gate writing this waiting for my plane to Xian to start boarding. I’m so looking forward to see those warriors …

Landed in Xian with no clue how to get to my hotel, but that turned out to be a very easy thing, took 2 walks down the street to find the building but all was good, and the hotel turned out to be nice as well.
Next day my tour began at 8 in the morning, and I saw them! The warriors! Cool! Can’t stop thinking how much work that must have been and can’t stop thanking God I wasn’t Chinese living in the Qin dynasty (or the Ming dynasty for that matter, who wants to build a great wall?!) They’re very impressive, all different faces, and there’s loads of them! The site consists of 3 pits, basically building erected on top of the excavation sites. Pit 1 contains the infantry soldiers, pit 2 has the cavalry and archers, and pit 3 contains the headquarters, you can notice the difference in clothes, armoring, and even age as the rank of the person grows. The rest of the museum is a hall containing two bronze chariots with decorations and details of gold and silver, these were made in half real size (unlike the warriors who are in real life size), the 2 are different, it is believed that the first was protecting the second, it’s a standing chariot with loads if built-in weapons, the most impressive of them is the umbrella (yes, you got that right!), it has 2 locking mechanisms, if you open one, you can tilt it around to protect yourself from the sun but if you open both, you can take it out and use it as a spear!"

At this point something stopped me writing about the rest of the day, i can't remember what it was, but the rest follows nevertheless...

The visit included a lot of walking and lasting till noon was therefore followed by lunch, although the restaurant was a bit europeanized to suit the tourists, the food wasn't bad at all, i actually enjoyed it. On the way back into the city we passed by a jade stone factory and i bought myself some very nice silver/jade jewelery and a great looking dragon! Was very happy with it, one of my top 10 souvenirs of all times, and i also got to drink chinese tea in the factory, i love chinese tea :)

Next stop (of course) was the Big wild goose pagoda, and as the name suggests, there is actually a small wild goose pagoda... Not as impressive anyway. It's the biggest and most famous pagoda in the city, built in 6 stories with windows on each side, so you could face north, south, east or west from any floor, nice view of the city from there. The story of the place i can't remember but it was a nice visit nonetheless. One thing i learned though, every city in China has a Bell tower and a Drum tower, normally closely located (this pagoda had them too), you may already know this. But! What they're used for is the news, they were actually built to indicate time, one of them is used to announce midday, the other midnight. Which is sad given the fact this was so long ago, people probably went early to bed anyway since there was no electricity and hardly anything to do. On the other hand, you never know, maybe Chinese liked partying till late...
The next stop is my favorite, the Great mosque, the reason being how different it looks from a normal worldwide used design of a mosque. This one (as many other in China) is actually built in the architectural style of the Ming dynasty (which most of us simply refer to as Chinese, the curved up edges of the roof, etc...), and apart from the mosque itself, it's got rooms for workers there, probably some classes among those, gardens, and it looks very serene and calming, you feel it's a worship place. The only place that looks typical is the prayer hall itself, saying so, I was really impressed by the wood work on the walls, it was like WOW! They have 30 tall boards of wood around the walls, each is carrying one part of the Quran's 30, beautifully carved in that wood, awesome!

The muslim quarter where the mosque lays is not very impressive though, tight streets, street markets, crowded...well...And the mosque was only for men, so i couldn't even pray there.

My day at Xi'An was drawing to an end, i was taken to the airport to catch my flight to Beijing (which was delayed like for 5 hours or so!), i enjoyed it and haven't regretted a bit that i decided to come here after everyone else pulled out, it was well worth it.

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