Trip report: Beijing, Xian, Datong and Chengde(2) by walter_ba21
Last updated by amanda at 2008/11/20; Destinations:
11 June - Xian
We waked up very early because we had to catch the flight to Xian at 7.20 a.m.. The departure was from the new Terminal 3, constructed for the Olympic Games and planned by the English architect Foster. The terminal is spectacular and efficient. It’s enormous, but spaces are well organized and you can’t get lost inside. Our flight leaved nearly 10 minutes before the scheduled time and in two hours we arrived to destination. In the airport we have been received from Xin, our tour guide for one day and from a driver with a minibus only for us. We decided to go at first to visit the Terracotta Army, so we could stay there as much time as we liked. The site of the Terracotta Army is located approximately 40 km from the city.
The Terracotta Army is one of the most interesting sites we have seen in China. Simply wonderful! The Terracotta Army was discovered in 1974 near the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor. The figures include warriors, chariots, horses, officials. Total over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses.
It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
The site is very large and comprises more exhibition areas. In the first pavilion there are the pits with the infantry, where during the night (in order to let the site to be open by day), the archeologists work to the reconstruction of the destroyed statues. In the other pavilions there are the best exemplary of each military grade, the weapons, the bronze chariots and a small photographic museum of the site. There is also a hall where a documentary is projected in Cinerama. For me has been a great emotion to visit this site.
After lunch we went to visit the city wall of Xian. Xian (8 million inhabitants), ancient capital of China with more than 3.000 years of history, is renowned for being the eastern terminus of the Silk Road and therefore the center of the commerce between China and Europe. The fortifications of Xian represent one of the oldest and best preserved Chinese city walls. The existing wall was re-constructed during the Ming Dynasty in 1370. The wall is impressive with a height of approximately 12 meters and a width of 18 meters to the base and 14 meters at the top. It is also plenty wide enough to rent a bicycle and cruise along the wall. You can walk on the top and have a nice view: a mix of the middle-age fortification with towers and the town with its modern skyline. In the evening we returned to Beijing.
12 June – Beijing
We make up for lost sleep, due to the jet lag and the early up of the day before. We slept till 11. When we asked for breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, the maid has watched to us in strange way and has pointed out that they were preparing the buffet for the lunch, so we drank only some tea. As it was too late to visit the Forbidden City, we decided for the zoo and took a taxi. We had lunch in a small restaurant near the zoo entrance. Fortunately the menu was in English too and with photos. The meal has not been one of the best, but the 3 different kind of tea that we drunk were delicious.
Now the Beijing zoo hosts 8 panda cubs newly arrived from the Wolong Nature Reserve after the earthquake. The panda are lodged very well and the panda cubs are lovely, but the rest of the zoo is somewhat dreary. Unfortunately, when we finished to visit the zoo, the Aquarius was already closed (it’s open till 5 p.m.) so we returned to the hotel and than we went for a walk in the pedestrian Wanfujing street, the way of the shopping. As we could see this is an elegant street, rich in stores, shops, restaurants and there is a lot of people strolling the street or coming here to watch television from some maxi screens. It’s a pleasant place to walk and in the shops you can find everything. We have been amused in finding a counterfeit T-shirt of Dolce&Gabbana and an improbable shirt “made in Italy”: after the “spaghetti alla carbonara” an other sign of our country.
We had dinner in a fast food and than early to sleep, because the day after we had to wake up at dawn for our excursion to Datong.
To be continued …