Sunday Spotlight – Xi’an
It being Sunday means it’s time to shine the spotlight on another city. Today we go inland into China to the citadel of Xi’an. Xi’an is a fast growing city and a half, as are many places in modern China. As I came in from the airport (after my delayed and eventful flight on Spring Airlines. Probably not worth the money it saves you!) I could see giant, sky craping apartment blocks as far as the eye could see. It was very imposing.
And then you enter the old city, and wow. It’s very different. The streets are wide, and the city walls, though high, don’t compare with sky scrapers. It’s an amazing mix of modern with ancient. The Bell Tower Youth Hostel has both dorms and rooms. I had a large single room, with TV, bathroom, air conditioning and a superb view of the bell tower the hostel took its name from all for less than $30. It was clean enough, the hostel had a restaurant, bar, laundry service, all in all it was quite a decent place to stay!
The walls of the city are a tourist attraction in themselves. Dating back to the late 14th century, the walls are just under 14 kilometres all the way around. I hired a bike to get around them as many people do, but you can also walk. It just takes longer of course! And it’s a great view.
The city has a number of temples. The Grand Mosque in the centre of town is fantastic. It’s sort of hidden in some ways in the centre of the old city. It’s very quiet, and charming. It’s inside a wall all the way around, and has a beautiful green garden with statues and stones. The Wild Goose Pagoda was also interesting, the temple grounds are walled up and there are many artefacts to see, and outside is a large sort of fountain/water display that’s also really nice. The roads in this area are leafy as well and quite charming.
Ultimately though, you come to Xi’an to take a trip outside the city to see the Terracotta Warriors. They are bloody amazing! I traversed the bus system out there (not so hard) and I was blown away by these amazing stone statues farmers found a number of years ago now when digging. Also, there are like a gazillion people visiting so, you know, be aware of that because sadly it does not improve the experience.
After that I took a bus to Emperor Qin’s tomb. It’s a large, beautiful garden and there was a sort of dance/performance which was well worth watching.
I had four days in Xi’an in 2011 and really thought it was a great place to visit. If you’re headed to China, well, I’d say this is one of the best cities you could visit. May the Journey Never End!