Monday 14 May - Sunrise at 0600 in heavy smog
and haze, so the sun here is about 30 minutes behind Beijing, which is
understandable since Xi'an is considerably west of Beijing but in the same time
zone. Breakfast from 0600 to 0845 in the lobby cafe. Before breakfast and tour
departure I find a taxi outside the hotel and with sketch map direct the driver
to take me to the city east gate and back through the center past the Drum
tower and back to the hotel. Then hearty breakfast in hotel lobby cafe. Tour
departs at 0845 for the Little Wild Goose
Pagoda. This is a fascinating place with many buildings and many Chinese
visitors. There are giant bells and drums and an area full of steles. The sales
shops are full. Outside many women are practicing
At 1015 we drive to the Jin Jang Jade Carving
factory on Yan Xian Road. First off is a lecture on jade followed by a tour
through a workshop where we witness several artisans at their carving. One
worker informs us that it takes over a year to complete one carving and she has
6 months still to go before the piece will be completed. That piece will sell
for over $5,000. As at the pearl store, here the prices of jade objects run the
scale from reasonable to extremely expensive. But the prices don't seem to
deter many of the tour group. The objects include hand-carved pendants, and
figurines as well as jewelery, dishes, vases, and boxes.
We drive back downtown and walk around the central area between the Bell and
Drum Towers briefly. Then it is to lunch at the famous, two-floor,
Jiazi Dumpling restaurant. There is no menu.
We are seated 10 to a table around the standard lazy susan in its center. The
waitresses simply bring bowl after bowl each filled with a different dumpling.
There are 200 different dumpling varieties according to their contents. We have
16 of these plus salad and soup and fruit, with cookies for desert. The
restaurant is obviously very popular and filled with Chinese patrons. After
this banquet we try to walk it off by visiting shops along the main street.
Then it is time to take the bus to the world-famous Qin Museum of Terra Cotta
Army figures. This is located about an hour's drive from town, across a river
and close to a mountain range. Again, we note the strikingly yellow color of
the fields beside the super highway. We pass the low hill that covers the Qin
emperor's tomb, yet to be excavated. Of course the
Terra Cotta Museum is packed with
visitors. But it is so large that it does not seem crowded. There are three
main buildings, each covering a section of the underground army plus museum
displays. The visit begins with a very interesting movie in 360 degee theater
that depicts the thousands of workers creating the army figures and
establishing the underground complex. The movie ends with a scene in which a
conquering army burns and destroys the place - thus ends the emperor's vision
of protection in the after-life not many years after he died. The whole complex
then remained unknown for centuries until accidentally found. We depart at 1645
and reach the hotel at 1800.
Dinner will be on our own tonight so we walk downtown and have a milkshake at
McDonalds. We check the menu at the KFC also just for fun. At dusk the
illumination turns the buildings into something like a Disney Land or fair
ground. The first class stores are full of latest fashions from France and
Italy. Back at the hotel at 2000 we pack for the morning flight to Hangzhou.