For the first time in several days, I didn’t wake up at five a.m., which was probably thanks to our amazing room and hotel in general. 10/10 recommend.
We headed for the Terra Cotta Army museum through some, if not the worst, smog we experienced since arriving in China.
Not that I was going to let a little (lot) or air pollution stop me. I had the time of my life viewing the Terra Cotta warriors. I don’t even know how to describe the feelings that I experienced while touring the Terra Cotta museum. I honestly didn’t have, in my wildest dreams, a clue that I would ever see this wonder. I also never would have thought I would do on a Chinese government hosted trip as a journalist… but life, you know.
The site is a lot larger than I think most people would believe based on Google images. There are actually several sites each filled with a different dig and different sets of warriors. Some of the highlights include the famous archer warrior and the miniature horse drawn carriage.
As we were driving up to the complex, I noticed a substantial crowd gathering at the front gates of the site made up of a whole lot of tour buses. However, our van drove right past all of them and to a back entrance where we drove all the way to the front door of the museum. Not the front gate. The literal front door of the museum.
The only other person allowed to drive this close to the site was a police car (hidden behind the crowd). Also note the heavy smog covered mountains in the background]
Lunch and Conversations
Next, we had lunch and were treated to the coolest fruit carving of a dragon that has ever existed. I need to spend more time researching the symbol of the dragon in Chinese culture, but I’ll save that for another blog post.
Following lunch was the meeting with journalism students at a local university. Most of them were first year master’s students, with a few underclassmen undergraduate students.
Overall, the conversation was disappointing because of the mismanagement. There were too many of us and we were sitting across the room from each other and not able to have a genuine conversation. I strongly belief in intercultural dialogues, but spending an hour shouting across a large room just didn’t live up to those expectations.
I much preferred the conversations we were able to have one on one afterwards because it allowed us to talk openly and ask and answer questions. I also was able to befriend one student and exchange WeChat accounts with her.
Diversity in Xi'an
Our final stop of the day was in the Xi’an Muslim District. We toured a mosque and had free time to wander around in the market. I shopped for souvenirs and Christmas presents while delighting in the smells of street foods and sounds of Xi’an.
When you think of China, you probably aren’t going to immediately picture Muslims. However, there is a thriving Muslim population in China, a large percentage of which is concentrated in Xi’an. The history of Islam in China is rich and fascinating and something I’m looking forward to exploring in future research.
Too Many Dumplings
After the market, we were treated to a famous Xi’an dumpling dinner. I lost count of exactly how many different kinds of dumplings that were put in front of us, but it was around 20. I’m sad to say I didn’t get to try all of them – partially because I got way too full – and partially because one particular dumpling that was shaped like a chestnut and filled with walnuts. There was also a large walnut salad that I had to watch extremely closely because the communal chopsticks kept getting swapped around.
Some of the best parts about dinner were the dumplings shaped like frogs or chickens or even some tiny ducks! My favorite flavor was the shrimp dumplings, boring I know, but classic is always good.
After dinner most of us went to a nearby bar street. I tried a new beer –EnBoon, and would not recommend it.
Marvels of Xi’an
Xi’an was by far my favorite city we visited. Not only because the Terra Cotta Army was amazing, (which it really, really was), but also because there a presence in Xi’an, of history and traditional Chinese culture, as well as a diversity that’s surprising and exhilarating. I loved Xi’an and if/when I return to China, it will be my first stop.
Next post: My adventure in Xi’an comes to a close and I head to Shanghai.
My name is Hunter and this the blog of my worldwide adventures. The purpose of this blog is to show that you can be a traveler, not just a tourist.