As we landed in Beijing, a cold, dry wind hit us. Beijing is located in northern China, which means that winter there can be extremely cold. The Beijing International airport is pretty far way from downtown Beijing. Streams of Taxies were quietly waiting there for customers. It would take you 70 by taxi to the downtown so we decided to take the shuttle bus. The airport hall was filled with people who were waiting for the coming shuttle bus but the guards there neatly arranged everything.
We stayed at the Red Wall Hotel, ?which we found was really nice. The hotel enjoys a good location being located only two minutes' walk from the Forbidden City. In China the color "red" is considered as a symbol of auspiciousness, happiness and the red appearance of the hotel made us feel at home. As Christmas was coming, the hotel's hall was elegantly ornamented with Christmas decorations.
We started our next day pretty early. We took a leisurely walk along the ancient city wall. We started from the back entrance of the Forbidden City and made our way to its main entrance. On the way, we saw many interesting things surrounding the ancient architectures, which showcased the palace's importance in ancient times. The place was really huge consisting of hundreds of chambers. The cold weather and strong wind there could never dampen tourists' mood. Many tourists there were admiring the gorgeous ancient architecture and we saw the flashes of many cameras trying to capture the beauty. The whole complex was elaborately arranged; in the middle there were three main halls which are lined by residential palaces for the emperors, concubines and eunuchs. The emperors, groups of their concubines, servants all became historical sights and the palaces now are more of a museum. There is so much to see here that you need at least two hours to cover these halls, chambers, gardens, and so on in the palace.
Beijing is a city with both traditional and modern Chinese features. It is home to some of the finest remnants of China's imperial past and it is an epitome of major cities in China. Its most bustling commercial street is Wang Fu Jin. This street shows you everything your heart desires. One place here worth a special mention is the large supermarket where many world-famous brand items are available at a great price. The food street in the underground floor serves all well-known food and snacks from all over China. It is the premier shopping center in China, the Department Store, Dong'an Free Markets, are among the first shopping markets. This area is conveniently locate near many hotels, including the luxurious Grand Hyatt and Wangfujing Hotel.
Today, we visited the Beijing Zoo. The zoo is conveniently located on Erhuai Road, only a few minutes drive from Xizhimen Subway Station. The most interesting things we saw were two giant pandas. The cute animals were cheerfully playing with each other. The zoo hosts variety of rare animals: parrots from Africa, lizards, crocodiles, foxes, wolves, tigers and so on.
The Hutong area is an outstanding example of old Beijing. Rent a rickshaw and let the driver take you along these small alleys to explore the Old Beijing. It is a great place to dream of the bygone past. The trip often affords a leisurely glimpse into the courtyards of the traditional quadrangles. Life here is simply, people washing their things beside the flowing tap water, old grandpas leisurely reclining enjoying sunshine. We finally reached Beijing's bar area, Houhai Area, which is filled with newly built bars. Red and green lights at night, making this area a charming scene, light the area. It is a popular entertainment center for the young; many youthful faces can be seen strolling there.
We took a night train to Xi'an for more fun there. Xi'an is easily accessible from Beijing, many trains running between the two heavily visited cities, among which train No. Z19. This train is the most luxurious, which only has soft seats. Our train trip was not too long and we arrived in Xi'an in the early morning.
As we entered Xi'an, the first landmark we encountered was the city wall, which stretches just outside the railway station. Xi'an was originally a walled city, and even today the wall is considered a landmark dividing the city into the inner part and the outer part.
The city wall is massive— it is tall, long and thick. The South Gate and North Gate are the two main entrances to the inner city. The city itself is neatly arranged along the city wall.
The Drum Tower and Bell Tower stand in the heart of city. The Drum Tower now is a drum museum, where a variety of drums are on display, some of which can be dated back a thousands years. A kind of drum show is performed here everyday. The top of the tower commands a panoramic view of the city. Right besides the tower is the famous Muslim Street. All the shops in the street are operated by Muslims. The street is otherwise called Muslim Food Street, where a wide selection of Muslim food and snacks are served, including the locals' favorite ones, roasted beef, roasted fish, and pancakes. Food sold in the street is tasty and has is a good value. Behind the Muslim Street the Great Mosque is located.
During the evening we took in a Tang Dynasty Show which was a performance of court music and dance which were inspired by and originated in China's Tang Dynasty, over a thousand years ago. Players in Tang court costumes sang and acted on the stage. An English introduction was available for foreigner tourists.
No visit to Xi'an is complete without spending a few hours' taking in the Qin Terra Cotta Warriors. This is one of the most famous staples of Xi'an, and one of the hallmark images of China. The Army Museum is located 160 kilometers away from downtown Xi'an, this is more than a two hours' drive. The 2 hours en route flew by because there were so many interesting things to see including, Huaqin Lake and the Qin mausoleum. Hauqing Lake was said to be the bathing place for the pretty lady-Concubine Yangyuhuai, who was Emperor Xuanzong's favorite lady. Three pits (Pit 1-3) of the Army Museum are now open to the tourists.
Pit 1 is the grandest one. Pit 2 and Pit 3 are still under restoration and evacuation (they think there are more underground to unearthed). Thousands of pottery warriors, horses and wooden chariots are on display. It takes you about 2 hours to visit the museum. After nourishing our spirits with this awe-inspiring sight, it was time to treat our mouths. Restaurants are set up just near the museum for you.
Big Wild Goose Pagoda is another popular attraction in Xi'an, so we went there for fun. At first it blew my mind that the site only had a pagoda, however, it is a large temple and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda is only part of it. The Pagoda was built in the Tang Dynasty to collect Buddhist scriptures. Although it is worn by wind and rain, the architecture is well preserved. Another part of the attraction is the Great Ci'en Temple. The chiseled mural paintings in the wall of the temple were quite impressive and were praised by the UNESCO. ??
9th,? December(Huashan Mountian)
Huashan Mountian is located about 240 kilometers away from Xi'an, approximately a two and half hours drive. Cable cars are available and take tourists to the northern summit of the mountain and there is pretty a way from the entrance to the site to board it. Minibuses are also available to take you there. The mountain has been developed into a tourist sight with, hotels and smaller tourists sights scattering around everywhere. Huashan is well-known for its sheer cliff and plunging ravines. All the paths to the summit are nearly vertical. The climb from the northern summit to other places, along Cuanglong Peak makes it clear how the impenetrable mountain repelled those invaders over centuries. If you want to challenge your endurance and physical strength then choose to climb the mountain. However, you are kindly advised to begin your arduous journey early in the morning, even before the sunrises, this way during your trek you can be lucky enough to nourish your aching body with the breath-taking sunrise which dances over the horizon when you reach the summit at morning.?????
1. Do not buy any Terra-Cotta replicas sold the vendors en route for most of them are poor-quality.?
2. Hotels up on the Mountain Huashan provide poor accommodations.