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  #1  
Old Posted Feb 8, 2013, 5:49 AM
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hkskyline's 2012 in XIAN

Rumours of Dragonair's imminent resumption of their Xian service circulated in aviation forums for a while, while the press release noted likely resumption to be in Q2. After fiddling around the Asia Miles redemption engine online, I found availability on the unannounced route but could not confirm the seats. After a long wait on the phone, I was able to secure a redemption seat at 20,000 miles before the official announcement came.

The Yellow River is the cradle of Chinese civilization. Xian served as the imperial capital for over a thousand years, and was the end of the Silk Road. Overshadowed by Beijing today, its past is nevertheless glorious and some of it is now accessible to visitors.

The full set is on my website : http://www.globalphotos.org/xian.htm

1. The Terra-Cotta Warriors is a large site consisting of 3 pits and a large museum. The museum displays examples of the various statues that have been unearthed in the pits so far.



2. Two chariots were unearthed with horses and riders. All the tour groups gathered around for a look. However, they didn't seem to understand flash should not be used. Quite amazing that they buried these huge sculptures.







5. I was surprised no safety covers were placed in Pit 2, and in the other pits as well. Wouldn't the humidity from all the visitors damage the warriors?









9. The high-ranking officers should be well-fed and their bodies reflect that.



10. The kneeling warrior got a lot of attention. The facial expression is very clear, and the details are amazing.



11. Pit 3 is the smallest one, but it was nevertheless still interesting as they tried to arrange some of the warriors into formation.





13. Pit 1 is the largest and has the most spectacular formation.











18. The warriors were meant to protect Qin Shi Huang's tomb. Although the tomb has been found, it has not yet been excavated. The area is now a huge park, with a surprising number of cherry blossom trees.







21. Back in the city, the Bell Tower sits in the heart of a massive traffic circle where the north-south and east-west axes intersect. Like most of Xian's big attractions, it costs a lot of money to go in. 50 yuan later, I had a ticket for this and also the nearby Drum Tower.

















29. The tower isn't tall enough to see the roofs of its neighbours, but it does offer a clear view of the Drum Tower.



30. Dating from the Ming Dynasty, the Drum Tower was built in the 14th century and features various drums that depict the ancient weather calendar.











35. Looking back towards the Bell Tower, which seems small compared to its more modern neighbours.

















43. Xian's current city wall primarily dates from the Ming dynasty. Well-preserved and intact, the wall itself is quite wide and can easily accomodate both cyclists and pedestrians.





45. 40 yuan later, enter the gate and head up the staircase to the top of the city wall.







48. A renovated street lined with historic architecture, Shuyuanmen pedestrian street specializes in cultural works, including Chinese calligraphy brushes and paintings. While there is a food stall every now and then, the atmosphere is still very cultural.























59. Capture the revolutionary spirit with these thin metal cups. Pay 10 yuan.



















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  #2  
Old Posted Feb 8, 2013, 3:41 PM
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Love it.
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  #3  
Old Posted Feb 8, 2013, 8:28 PM
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Do you have any more pics of the city itself? How is the economy doing there? I have always been curious about Xian.
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2013, 9:48 PM
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Great city to explore. Rented a bike and rode the wall loop around the old city in 2005. Big Goose Pagoda (about 2 miles south of the old city wall) is worth seeing as well.

The soldiers are fascinating and surreal, but at the same time, completely pointless. It's just such an odd thing. Still totally cool to see.

Too bad the air quality is always so bad.
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Old Posted Feb 13, 2013, 8:28 PM
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Very interesting.
I have heard that they have prevented unearthing many of the other terracotta warriors because the ones that have been excavated are quickly disintegrating. Those things really are quite amazing. Qin Shi Huang was a crazy, ruthless leader, and this definitely reflects that.
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Old Posted Feb 15, 2013, 8:44 AM
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Yes, they have not excavated the imperial tomb yet and they won't until they have comfort the technology is available to preserve it once it gets exposed to the elements.

As requested, here are some more city photos :

Xian's bustling Muslim quarter consists of several streets of markets selling everything from noodles to souvenirs.





























"Mo" is a local delicacy consisting of bread dunk into a soupy mixture.



























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Old Posted Mar 5, 2013, 6:52 AM
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The Shaanxi History Museum offers a large number of free tickets everyday, but the queue didn't seem to move so I opted for a paid admission. There was barely a queue for that and the small charge was worth it for entry to special exhibits and the free area.



The museum is laid out in chronological order, starting with the Neolithic Age.























Although the Qin dynasty was short-lived (221-206BC), their artifacts showed great extravagance.











Han dynasty (206BC-220AD)









This is how they made coins back then.













Wei, Jin, and Northern and Southern dynasties (220-589AD)





Sui (581-618AD) and Tang (618-906AD) dynasties

















I came across quite a number of camel figurines at various attractions. Perhaps they were very popular transport vehicles during the Silk Road days.





After the Tang dynasty fell, subsequent dynasties moved the capital away from Xian. This museum didn't have a big collection of post-Tang artificats.







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Old Posted Mar 14, 2013, 3:05 PM
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Although Xian was the imperial capital for a thousand years, the actual location of the capital differed. For example, the Qin and Han capitals was northwest of the present city, the Zhou capital was due west. During the Tang dynasty, the city of Chang'an was the largest city in the world.



The basement level has 2 exhibitions. One of them requires the special ticket that I had bought to bypass the free entry line. This paid exhibit hosts a number of precious artifacts, such as the below bowl with calligraphy written on it. Wonder if the ink would disappear if the plate is used for dining?















This interesting item is well-advertised on the museum literature. Since it seems to be a "must-see", no wonder this part of the exhibit required extra payment. Dating from the Tang dynasty, this cup is shaped like a beast but it clearly can function as well.









Xian's historic attractions have so far displayed the glory of the Qin and Tang dynasties. But the Han dynasty also had its capital here, and Hanyangling is the tomb of one of its emperors. An underground museum allows visitors to gaze at the burial pits behind protective glass.





The Han figurines were clothed, but time has destroyed those. The arms and hands were made of wood and could move, but those have also not survived the test of time. What remains today are the heads, bodies, and legs, which look quite eerie.





The museum's walkway crosses several pits. At these locations, the walkway turns into glass so visitors can peer directly below their feet to see what has been uncovered.









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  #9  
Old Posted May 4, 2013, 2:54 AM
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Famen Temple is 2 hours away from Xian. It originates from the Han Dynasty, and was the royal temple during the Sui and Tang dynasties (6th-10th centuries). Today, it is another overpriced attraction, costing 120 yuan to enter.











































This newer section features various exhibits about the temple's glorious history. Tragedy had also struck over the years; lightning had once devastated the pagoda.



An underground vault containing various treasures from the Tang dynasty was unearthed during recent renovation work.









This structure seems new, offering exhibitions and an outdoor deck with a panoramic view of the site.







The present Famen Temple is this out-of-place new structure, where some finger bones of the Buddha are now on display.











The streets bordering Famen Temple were bustling with shoppers. Here, shoppers buy large pieces of paper to burn for their ancestors. A traditional ancestor-worshipping festival took place just a few days earlier.













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Old Posted May 10, 2013, 12:26 PM
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The 7-yuan bus 306 makes a stop at Huaqing Palace before reaching the Terra-Cotta Warriors. Huaqing Palace's fame comes from a hot spring that still gushes warm water today. The former royal resort is now a modern attraction that looks historic but with a hefty admission charge.





















Yang Guifei was a famous beauty from the Tang Dynasty. Plenty of today's women seem to want to look just like her.



Wash your hands in this fountain that gushes out warm water from the spring.







The concubine's pool is exclusively for the Tang dynasty's Yang Guifei.



This plain-looking pool is for the emperor.



The Star Pool is also for the emperor. It was thought that the pool had no cover at all and the emperor could gaze at the stars while bathing.



Even imperial chefs and palace officials get their own "Shangshi Pool".























In more recent history, the Nationalist Party's Chiang Kai-Shek sought residence here in the early 20th century. Bullet holes can still be seen on the bricks.












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  #11  
Old Posted Jul 8, 2013, 3:35 AM
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Small Wild Goose Pagoda
Built during the Tang dynasty in the 8th century, the pagoda originally had 15 stories but a subsequent earthquake in the 16th century destroyed the top.





It is possible to climb to the top for a panoramic view of Xian.







Looking south, there seem to be more historic buildings next to the pagoda in a very green setting.







Looking east, a line of skyscrapers marks the main boulevard that leads to the south gate.







A bit tired from the climb, the visit continues through the temple complex.

























Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Across town, this pagoda also dates from the Tang dynasty. While the pagoda and temple are enclosed inside the wall, more modern amenities surrounded it.





























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