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39 years old, DancingShoes was born and raised in the rural part of Wuhan. Finishing her education in Beijing, she has a Bachelor's degree in Engineering. She has been working professionally and living in Xiamen for many years, but now calls Wuhan home. A single mother for 8 years so far, DancingShoes has been growing up along side her child, maturing more and more. Independent emotionally and financially and working as project manager in a large international engineering company, DancingShoes is well traveled around China and parts of Europe.
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Travel China: Ancient Capital - Xi'an 古城西安    

By DancingShoes'
3250 Views | 12 Comments | 3/12/2015 4:53:29 PM

Xi'an street views

I don't remember how often I have been to Xi'an, but I can only remember that I was always rushing to and fro around the factory- hotel- airport in the business trips. (We have an important supplier in Xi’an with whom we both have been in a close cooperation in the past many years.)  When I finished my work, I usually rushed to the airport to catch the last flight to get home. In order to save time, sometimes I just had a bowl of noodles to fill my poor belly at the Airport, and finished it as soon as possible in a few minutes before the boarding gate was closed. I still remember that the cheapest noodles soup was RMB 68 at the airport.  The other day I read on a Chinese forum that some Netizens were complaining the noodles soup was too expensive at the airport. 



I have to say that the noodle soup at the airport was not the most expensive I've ever had.  I've ever had a bowl of Sichuan Dandan noodles in a Chinese restaurant in Germany that cost 10 Euros,  and at that time the Euro and RMB exchange rate was 10.  It was equal to 100 Yuan for a bowl of Sichuan Dandan noodles soup. I don't know if there is any more expensive Chinese noodles soup?  ( Don't doubt why I chose the Chinese noodles in Europe, instead of the local food there. It was just because my stomach started to miss the food taste in my home country as I was really tired of the beef/ lamb/sausages or cheese /butter /bread….I was really tired of these food after many days stay…just like the Westerns miss their butter and bread when they have been living in China for too long time.)



Actually I rarely had chance for a tour to have fun in Xi'an while I was on a business trip. But I was lucky that, our company arranged an outing to Xi'an in one of the company annual group activities. So I finally had a chance for a good tour of 4 days there.



Xi'an is a nice city. The street road is clean, although there is still some smog in winter. On the highway from Xianyang Airport to the downtown,  there is the beautiful landscape along the roadsides. The toll station is also in ​​the antique tower style. European colleagues sometimes asked me where we could see some Chinese traditional architectural style.  I would say, here in Xi'an you can see many buildings in this style. The bank building , shopping center, or McDonald's, these buildings in the frontage are all decorated with the old -style roofs and eaves. It is a mixture of the culture of the ancient capital and modern fashion.



I have ever stayed in 3 hotels in Xi'an. One is nearby the Clock Tower and its name is Citadines. The other two I have stayed are Sheratons.  Citadines in Xi'an has a few chains hotels. This one located on No.36, Zhubashi Street is in the heart of the ancient city and close to the Bell Tower as well. It is a quiet place in the noisy neighborhood. The hotel room is small but clean. There are many foreigners tourists staying here too. Shopping, sightseeing and the food court dining place are just around the corner. The room prices are relatively lower.  I guess it is the favorite hotel of the backpacker tourists.  Behind the Bell Tower, there is the Muslims Street where you will find a variety of snacks and cates out there. There is a "Mutton and Bread Pieces Soup" restaurant on the street, called " Lao Sun Jia ", where is always full of guests. I saw there were many foreigners waiting and lining up for a seat. I like the hot stir-fried walnuts on the street, with the salt and pepper taste. It is very delicious and the price is rather cheap.  The group tourists can choose Xi'an Restaurant for meal. It is a large restaurant, you may have meal in the large lobby or in the separate rooms.  They offer a variety of Xi'an Cuisines. Don't glut yourself with too many delicacies.



There are two Sheraton Hotels in Xi'an. The one located in the west part of the city is relatively older and I think there is some bad smell from the old decoration in the room but it is not too far from the airport. The other one is located in the north, and it is rather new and clean, with more professional service. But it is a little bit far from the airport. The old Sheraton seems to attract more guests because of its advantage of the location. The best season for a tour in Xi'an is the end of October or the beginning of November, I think.  You do not need to run into the large crowds of the tour group in the Chinese public holiday, and the weather is still comfortable in November. I had ever met a few American families at the breakfast time in the hotel there. The little kids ran to the food, and screamed out, "yummy, yummy!"…they were so cute!  When I finished the work for the day and returned to the hotel in the evening, I liked to go out to hunt the local cuisine in the town if I had some colleagues together with me. I would like recommend you a nice restaurant "Xiao Yang Barbecue". They provide very nice barbecue and many other local dishes. It seems that this restaurant is well known and they have several chain restaurants in Xi'an located in different districts.



It is very hot in Xi'an in summer, and the temperature could be 35 C degrees or more.  In summer you will find it is overcrowded at every sightseeing spot in Xi’an. Many students are here to spend some time of their summer holiday to visit Xi'an and learn about the ancient culture. In front of the Terracotta Warriors Museum , you need to take long hours in the hot sun to wait in the long line to get into the museum. So I would suggest you to shift your visit to another time to avoid the large crowds in summer vacation, nor in China 's public holidays and the tourist rush season. Try to visit in November or December when the weather is a little bit cold, there are very few tourists, but you will have a good time as a VIP that - the whole Grand Terracotta Pit is right there on the show just in front of you. It is an amazing visual shock, believe me. In the rush season, you will just see a lot of human heads in front of you before the Pit – too many tourists around!



The resorts in the downtown are just the Ancient Walls, Bell Tower, Drum Tower and the Wild Goose Pagoda . You can visit the Ancient Walls in the day or evening. The night view with the light-scape on the Walls is very nice in the evening.  The Wild Goose Pagoda was originally built to store the Buddhist scriptures that the Monk Tang- Sanzang got from the West (ancient India) through an arduous journey for the task assigned by Emperor Tang. Later on the Wild Goose Pagoda had been repaired and heightened several times as per the request from Empress Wu-Zetian and then became what it is like you see today.  The Terracotta Warriors and Lishan Scenic Area (where was the SPA place for the emperors and their concubines in the ancient time) are located in the suburban, we have to go there by bus.



There are several pits of Terracotta Warriors revealed to the world now. Pit No.1 has the largest numbers of terracotta warriors. Looking out onto the pit, you will know it simply was a magnificent military under the ground. Each terracotta warrior is unique, tall or short, fat or thin, with different faces. Each one is different from another.  The colorful painting on the Warriors was made from the natural plant pigment by the ancient Chinese. The Warriors were very vivid with the colorful painting while they were just excavated out but now they look pallid and pale. This is because the natural plant pigment painting has been exposed to air for too long time and it was oxidized and getting faded little by little, and we have not worked out how to preserve these Terra-cottas yet. In the ancient China , people believed that their ghosts would exist in the world, after they died. The emperors thought they should still possess the same wealth and power after they died, as they had while they were alive. So the First Emperor Qin duplicated the huge armies that he commanded in his life into numerous Terracotta Warriors figurines,  to accompany him under the ground after he died.  His own mausoleum is located in another place where is more mysterious. According to the historical records, this mausoleum was covered with layers of protection traps. Nobody could get to intrude. Until now no one knows its exact location, and no one dare to dig even if he knows the location. Today the mausoleum of Emperor Qin that we visit is just the model built recently according to the historical records, not the true mausoleum where Qin was buried.



Xi'an is a city full of Chinese ancient culture. It was the Capital of total 14 dynasties in the ancient history.  The old long Walls are just standing right there in the city. They are as tall and quiet as they were . The Walls are well-maintained and preserved, with a rather complete and perfect facade we get to see today. Looking at the quiet flowing water in the moat under the Wall, I still hear the horses neighing and the drum beating in the war of the remote ancient time.  In 1974, a local farmer was digging a well for water and he found some broken pottery beneath the ground, and it finally turned out to be the Terracotta Warriors from Qin Dynasty and afterwards more and more digging (ah, yes, in an graceful name - archaeology) was involved.  The Terracotta was finally exposed to the world.  Now there are only the mausoleum of First Emperor of Qin Dynasty, the Qian mausoleum of Empress Wu-Zetian of Tang Dynasty and her husband Li-Zhi that have not been excavated. They are still buried under the land, with the infinite conjectures and mysteries . "No excavating is the best preservation."  I just pray: even if the scien-tech has been developed a lot in the future, and enables us to excavate correctly and preserve these heritages under the ground, please, please, do not try to explore any more under this land.



去过西安多少次,我记不清了。但是每次几乎都是匆匆忙忙出差,在工厂- 酒店 - 机场 之间三点一线奔走,很少有空闲在这个古城好好参观一下。有时候我为了赶时间回家,航班起飞前有一点点时间就在咸阳机场吃最便宜的68元一碗的牛肉面。前些时看到有人在网络上吐槽说机场的牛肉面贵的离谱,我想说,这个68元一碗的牛肉面还不是我吃过的最贵的,我曾经在德国的中餐馆吃过10欧元一碗的四川担担面,并且那时候欧元和人民币汇率是1比10。相当于100元人民币一碗的面条。这么贵的一碗面条,有木有?



西安是个很干净也很有自己特色的一个城市,尽管秋冬时节仍然有雾霾。从咸阳机场出来往市区的高速公路上沿途都是漂亮的绿化带,连那个收费站也是做成古色古香的城楼风格。欧洲同事有时候问我哪里可以看到中国的传统建筑风格,其实西安到处都是。这里的银行大楼,购物中心,或者麦当劳,这些街面的建筑都用那些古老风格的屋檐来装饰,古城的味道扑面而来。



西安的酒店,我住过三个。一个是在钟楼附近的馨乐庭(Citadines),另外还有两家喜来登(Sheraton)。



Citadines在西安有几家连锁,但是位于竹巴市街36号的这一家位于古城中心地段,离钟楼很近,处所幽静,房间比较小但是干净,也有不少老外游客入住这里的。这里,购物观光寻觅美食都很方便,房价也非常低,性价比比较高,深受那些背包客喜爱。钟楼后面就是回民街,各种小吃和美食都在那里。那里有一家羊肉泡馍馆,名叫“老孙家”,里面总是挤满了人,还有不少老外在那排队等座位。我喜欢街上现炒现卖的核桃,椒盐味道的,很香,价格也很便宜。如果是团队旅游或者外地的客人来,要选择高大上的话,吃饭可以选择去西安饭庄。这是个比较大的餐馆,里面有大厅也有小间,有各种西安名吃,菜式精致,可以让你一饱口福,大快朵颐。



西安目前有两家喜来登,位于城市西部的那个喜来登酒店比较老旧,房间里有一股陈旧的味道,但是距离机场稍微近点,交通比较方便。而城市北边的那个开张不久的赛瑞喜来登,非常干净,服务态度也好多了,就是距离机场远点。但是老的喜来登里面生意却是相当不错,入住的人比新的赛瑞喜来登似乎还要多些。也有很多老外在那里入住。尤其在10月底11月初的时候,是最好的旅游时节,这些来西安旅游的人,错开了拥挤的中国公共假期,并且天气也还不错。有一次我在酒店早餐时候遇到几个美国家庭,小女孩们看到那些美食,狂奔过去,大叫“yummy,yummy! ”,可爱极了。白天工作结束,晚上没有饭局的时候,回到酒店,我和同事就商量决定去外面找当地美食。这里给大家推荐那个小杨烤肉,味道真的很赞,似乎在西安也有几家连锁店。



夏天的西安天气很热,一般都35度以上。暑假里你在这里会发现各个景点都是人满为患,因为中国外国的学生们都趁暑假来西安旅游体验古都文化了。尤其是兵马俑博物馆,你需要忍受长时间的在大太阳底下排着长长的队,才能进入博物馆看到那些兵马俑奇迹。所以您应该尽量错开暑假,也不要赶在中国的公共假期和旅游旺季,而选择在其他时间去。比如11月,12月虽然天气冷点但是人很少,这时候你享受的几乎就是VIP待遇,整个兵马俑坑就呈现在你眼前,宏伟的场面很震撼。而不像旅游旺季人多时围着的里三层外三层你前面看到的都是脑袋。



市区的景点就是古城墙,钟楼,鼓楼和大雁塔。古城墙白天和晚上都可以去,灯光烘托下的古城夜景非常好看。大雁塔就是唐僧受唐王之托去印度取回的经书的藏所,后来经过武则天下令屡次修葺并且加高,成为现在的样子。兵马俑和骊山风景区都不在市区,需要专门乘车去。兵马俑目前开发了几个坑,其中一号坑里宏观庞大的兵马俑让人赞叹不已,整个简直就一宏伟的地下军事工程。每个兵马俑神态各异,陶俑表面的彩绘都是古代人民采用的天然植物颜料涂制,刚开发出来时看到的的都是色彩鲜艳,栩栩如生,而现在呈现在人们眼前的都是开发出来以后没有进行有效保护,长期跟空气接触,植物颜料已经氧化褪色变得暗淡无光。在中国的古代,人们相信人死后有灵魂,并且这些帝王认为,他们生前拥有的财富和权力,在死后也一样必须拥有。所以秦始皇把他生前统领的庞大军队复制成陶俑,在地下陪伴他,而他自己的陵寝则在另一个更神秘的地方。据史书记载,那是个布满了重重机关层层保护的地方,不容任何人侵犯。因此,直到现在也没有人知道他具体在哪儿也没有人去冒然挖掘。如今我们参观看到的秦始皇地下陵是现代的人们根据史书的记载建成的模型,而不是真正的秦始皇陵。



西安是座文化名城,有14个朝代在曾经这里建都。长长的高高的城墙,保留的比较完整也修护的比较完善,还有城外静静流淌的护城河,我们似乎仍然可以听到来自久远年代的兵马厮杀和战鼓声。当地农民在1974年打井取水的时候,在地底下发现一些破碎的陶片,由此开发了秦兵马俑。如今只有秦始皇的地下陵和武则天及李治的乾陵仍然静静留存在这片土地下,给后人留下无尽的猜想和神秘感。“不开发就是最好的保护。”但愿:无论科技怎么进步,即使未来的我们终于具备了开发和保护这些地下遗产的能力的时候,也都不要去挖掘这片土地。


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#2015-03-12 17:00:02 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Hey Dancing Shoes, what a treat to see a new article posted by you. You always give us great insights into the thoughts and the lives of Chinese women and this is no exception. This is a great blog about Xian, and it is truly wonderful to see you are back.

#2015-03-12 17:37:40 by dancingshoes @dancingshoes

Hi John thank you.

Recently a friend told me that he coincidently read my Blogs here and he had learnt more and more about China through the blogs on this site. So I decided to post this article now that it had been lying in my draft box for long time since the arguement of the WW2 caused by my previous blog. Also, your positive view and encouragement let me forget my broken English and I was able to continue writing here.:D


#2015-03-12 20:30:37 by Barry1 @Barry1

@DancingShoes

Your description of Xi'an has whetted my appetite to go and see the place.

Your tips on what and what not to do are mightily appreciated also. Please be aware that what you write is never ignored by many readers out here. It is of substantial value to those such as myself, who continuously marvel at what a remarkable country China truly is, filled as it is also with intelligent and talented people such as yourself.

My very best wishes to you, DancingShoes. :)(f)(sun)

#2015-03-14 07:17:54 by bmccull @bmccull

I had a memorable trip to Xi'an just over a year ago and can confirm that November is an excellent time to visit! The Tomb of the Emperor was the main reason for my visit but the Bell Tower and Muslim Street should not be missed. I would also suggest renting a bicycle for a trip on top of the wall. Bus service from the airport is excellent as is the local service and out to the Tomb. As noted in the travel guides, avoid taxis if at all possible - no need to ruin a trip to an otherwise enjoyable city.

#2015-03-14 17:20:09 by Map1 @Map1

I've been to Xi'an many times when I was living and teaching in Guyuan, Ningxia. Renting a bike and riding around the city wall is lots of fun. Also I'd suggest going to both the Muslim section of town along with the Art District. Outside the city are the ruins of the very first church in China, along with a pagoda detailing biblical narratives on the inside. There's also one of only five golden panda's in the world at Xi'an's Zoo.

#2015-03-16 13:14:55 by dancingshoes @dancingshoes

@bmccull
@Map1

Well, it is fun to ride the bike around the Wall, and on the top of the Wall. I noticed there were some people riding there! But I wondered how to lift the bike to the top of the Wall? Haha... I did not check the details.

#2015-03-17 04:32:10 by bmccull @bmccull

@dancingshoes Most of the bicycles are already up there and available to rent from several stations. In fact, you can rent at one point and finish at another.

#2015-03-19 08:53:20 by daisylee @daisylee

Yeah. Good article .It is right. I remembered I have been xi'an many times even I rent and rode the bicycle on the wall . It was really funny things . The bicycle can be for one person or two persons ride together which as in west lake in Zhejiang province! Xi'an is really an old and cultural attracted city only remain one famous tourist place I still want to go - Huashan mountain . Within this year I will be there again!

#2015-03-20 09:44:15 by dancingshoes @dancingshoes

@bmccull

Yes, that makes sense! Thank you!

#2015-04-30 01:35:43 by xingyu66 @xingyu66

西安是个好地方,25年前我在这个城市上大学,5年前(2010年)又回到这个城市参加毕业20周年同学聚会,这次看到的西安变化很大,特别是大雁塔外围的环境发生了巨大的变化,原来大雁塔周边的民房全部移为了平地,并修了一个很大的很现代的音乐喷泉,看上去与古老的大雁塔极不和谐,我喜欢25年前的样子,可惜再也回不去了。
不过,不管怎样,西安是个很值的去的地方,前面Dancing Shoes的介绍已比较详细,但还有一个非常重要的地方没有提到,那就是法门寺,该寺距今已有1700多年的历史,它是因舍利而建塔,因塔而建寺,是个典型的皇家寺院,也是举世仰望的佛教圣地。1981年8月宝塔半边倒塌,1987年2月开始重建宝塔,新建的法门寺合十舍利塔于2009年5月9日落成,高148米,是世界最高佛塔,气势宏伟,极为壮观。到西安不去法门寺是件很遗憾的事。

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