Thursday, July 30, 2015

Xi'an City One Day Trip (Henan and Xi'an Trip Day 7)

Day 7, Xi'an. We visited Shaanxi Museum (陕西博物馆), Big Goose Pagoda (大雁塔), the old city wall (西安古城墙), Muslim Street (回民一条街), and watched the opera in the city. Xi'an was the capital to Zhou, Qin, Han, and Tang Dynasty. It was the starting point of the olden Silk Road. The city itself has a history of more than 3000 years. Of course, we couldn't runaway from trying delicacies around, and took a night stroll along the street with historical towers.

Visiting a historical rich city, museum is the place that we couldn't miss. Similar to Henan Museum, the exhibited items showed the greatness of the past. Our tour guide told us that some of the artifacts were indeed found in the recycle centers or from dumping sites. Ignorant about these invaluable old relics, many were bought by the museum with low price from the locals as well. Completed in 1991, the museum is considered the first modern museum in China, with more than 370 thousand items exhibited.

The admission of Shaanxi History Museum is free, however entrance ticket is still needed. We departed early, hoping to beat the crowd. To our surprise, we had hundreds in front of us, and had to wait for 20 minutes to obtain the group tickets. We spent the next 1 hour 15 minutes in the museum. For us, the museum was not as attractive as Henan Museum, but it is still worth a visit. However, please be early to beat the crowd and to avoid tiring long queue.

The entrance of Shaanxi History Museum.

The queue under the hot sun at 9 am (upper left). The building of the museum is large, and is divided into 4 different halls (upper right). The lobby of the museum with a replica giant stone lion of Shunling Mausoleum- the tomb of Wu Zetian's mother (lower right). The internal design of the museum is quite similar to Henan Museum.

Murals in the museum.

Some of the items exhibited in the museum.

Dayan Ta (大雁塔) or Big Goose Pagoda was our next target, 10 minutes away from the museum by bus. Built in 652 AD in Tang Dynasty, it housed the religious material brought by Xuanzhang from India. Who is Xuanzhang? He was the real character of Tang San Zhang (唐三藏) in the story of "The Journey to the West" (西游记). After he returned from India which lasted for 17 years of journey, Gaozong Emperor appointed Xuanzhang as the first abbot of Daci'en Temple (built in 648 AD), the temple where the pagoda located. 

We couldn't deny the historical value of the pagoda and the temple. But the architecture design of the pagoda is simple, and can be meaningless if we have no knowledge about the epic of "The Journey to the West".  There was really nothing much to see there. Instead of paying CNY50 to enter the temple, you might want to choose to stroll within the shopping mall and pedestrian street surrounding the temple and pagoda. Anyway, one can always take photo with the pagoda outside of the temple's compound.

Big Goose Pagoda from the shopping mall. The pagoda was built with 7 levels, representing the highest hierarchy in Buddhism architecture. As a token of respect, we didn't take many photos inside the temple buildings.

The pagoda from the main entrance of Daci'en Temple.

It was a hot afternoon. Lucky enough, the trees provide shades for the visitors around the temple.

Close up to the pagoda.

Our next station after lunch- Xi'an City Wall or Xi'an Fortification. The city wall was built in 1370 AD in rectangular shape, covering an area of 13 square kms. The average height of the wall is 12 meters and the thickness of the top part is 12 - 14 meters. The city wall has four main gates facing four different directions. It is the most well-preserved city wall in China. The normal fee to the top level of the wall was CNY54 per person.

We entered the city through the east gate - Changle (长乐门), or the Gate of Eternal Joy. The elaborate building on the gate was an archer tower.

Climbing up the city wall was not a problem after a sumptuous lunch.

This is the barbican (瓮城) of the city. The barbican made the city extremely hard to be taken through the main gate. We can see how tall is the city wall compares to the buses.

The top of the wall is wider than a normal two-way road.

We have few options to tour around on the top of the city wall- by foot, bicycle, or by electric car. We chose electric car. The ticket counter is just nearby the city gate. The fee for the electric car was CNY80 per person for a round trip. Bicycle could be rented with CNY45 per person for 2 hours. Traveling by foot was free.

The buildings within the city wall cannot be built taller than the highest tower on the city wall.

The Xi'an Bell Tower built in 1384 AD in Ming Dynasty can be seen from the city wall. The bell tower marks the center of the fortification.

The moat can be seen from the archer tower on the Gate of Eternal Joy.

Bastions were built every 120 meters for more effective defense against attackers.

We strolled on the top of the city wall for around 2 hours. The sun shined proudly and the sky turned blue for us to take wonderful photos around the city wall. The weather however was not hot due to the strong wind.

After dinner, we went to Sunshine Lido Grand Theater for "The Grand Chapters of the Grand Tang Dynasty" show. The show was the combination of splendid costume and contemporary dances, featured by amazing dancers. However, the stage design and the sound system were a bit disappointing. 

Located at 29, South City-Ring Road, the theater is one of the oldest in Xi'an with a good track record of performance. However, with the ticket CNY180 for the normal seat, the show is considered expensive. It worth a visit of course, but only if we have extra budget for it. We can visit SUNLIDO official website for more information about the show.

Sunshine Lido Grand Theater at night and the show.

Tang Dynasty show.

Main dancers of the show.

Well, our advice, sitting at the last row might bed the best as we could stand up to watch the show without blocking other people. The arrangement of the theater was not very good as a tall person in front would block the view of the person at the back. All the photos that we showed were taken from the last row of the theater.

After the show, we went to Hui Min Street (回民一条街) or Muslim Street to buy some souvenirs and food until 11:45 pm. Next, we will share our experience in Hui Min Street, food, shopping, and our hotel in Xi'an. Follow us now.

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