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Xian day 2

The ancient city of Xian, and it doesn't get much more ancient. Xian is famous for being the center of 800 years worth of Chinese dynasties. This includes Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China and founder of the Qin dynasty. He's the dude that had the terra cotta warriors constructed to protect him in the afterlife. This happened about 2100 years ago. Since the creation of the terra cotta army Xian has watched the city crumble and be rebuilt many times over.

In a fashion similar to Beijing, inner Xian is surrounded by a city wall. It was built (added to and completed) in the 14th century by the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty. This is perhaps the best preserved wall in all of China. It's not part of The Great Wall, but it's just as impressive. Driving around and about Xian you can't not notice it. The wall was to be our first stop in our visit. However, just as we were about to purchase tickets to climb to the top Aiyun told me it would be better if we came back later tonight because of a show that was worth catching. Okay. Let's do that. We opted to go find lunch. We hoped in a taxi and headed to the famous Muslim street with all the restaurants.

Goal? Yang Ruo Pao Mo. Its a traditional Xian dish that's been around for over 1000 years. It's mutton (Yang rou) in a soup with lots of tiny pieces of unleavened bread. Traditionally served with picked garlic on the side. I had been told about this by two friends that knew I was coming to Xian. Aiyun being a general rock star researched it and found "the" place to get this dish. Sweet. We arrived at our destination. Both sides of the street were lined with an endless row of restaurants.

The street was teaming with tourists, but Aiyun was glad that it was relatively empty. It's a matter of perspective. To me the place looked packed. She said this was quiet and would be much more crowded next weekend at the start of mid autumn festival. We found our tiny hole in the wall restaurant and got our order in. I didn't realize the rest of the restaurant was another tiny hole in the wall next door. After we order we're given two small plastic tags with numbers on them and instructed to go next door and upstairs. We arrive and there are three separate rooms with no empty seats. Not a one. We stand around and wait for a table and get one in a matter of minutes. Three different ladies are delivering orders calling out numbers. Mine arrives first and Aiyun's showed up a few minutes later.

Her's is beef in a tomato based sauce, but still has the same small bits of unleavened bread. The small bits of bread taste sort of like bread dough, but mixed with the broth and something that looks like vermicelli noodles it's amazing. Aiyun tells me the noodles come from beans. They have that clear plastic look to them. I was shocked at how good pickled garlic tastes. I had to send a picture of them to my son in law Kaleb because I know he's a big garlic fan. Overall, great and memorable meal. Isn't it wonderful when something lives up to the hype?

The three ladies serving the meals were all Muslim women. There were also lots of Muslim guys around as well. Easy to tell by their distinctive headwear. They were each thrilled when I asked if I could take their photo. The one in purple turned so I could get a bettwr shot of her scarf.

Cost of this fantastic meal? About $8 USD. On the way out I saw the piles of bowls with the unleavened bread. Apparently they do lots of different dishes with this as the base.

I stopped at another place and bought a pomegranate juice. Different. Not bad. Lightly sweet and refreshing after chomping down all that garlic.

Next we headed to the Xian Museum. Aiyun got us a reservation to enter. Tickets were free, but reservations were required. I had to show my passport upon entry. She had to show her Chinese citizenship ID. This has been typical of my experiences here in China. No passport, no entry. The place is mostly a large park in the middle of the city. There were several ancient smaller buildings and a small museum dedicated to the history of the city and its story.

We walked through the three floors of the museum first. The lower level went through the changes the city had seen over three thousand years. There were several stone artifacts from each ancient era. There were a couple small gallories displaying jade, paintings, and Chinese calligraphy that were are from ages past. This shot from the top floor down showed a map of where the various dynasties centered in Xian built their city centers and palaces.

We went outside to find the small wild goose pagoda. After looking at pictures of it inside Aiyun commented that it would probably be better to go outside and see it for real. Yeah, I agreed.

This pagoda has withstood many earthquakes and has been restored to look as it did when built by the Tang dynasty in the 7th century. However, they left the crumbled parts at the top and some of the corners intact to make sure it kept some of the look of being super old.

On the way out we walked by a large bell and old building where many young Chinese girls in traditional outfits were having their photos taken. For 10RMB you could ring the bell three times. Super loud. It's in the bottom left of this next picture.

Lastly we parked it next to a small lake and waited for a taxi so we could get back to our hotel for a rest.

A nice start to our Xian adventure. I needed a quick nap before we headed back out to the wall after a rough night's sleep. The city wall was built over time as a defense for the city. The majority of it was upgraded and built to its current size during the Tang dynasty in the 14 century. This was the time of the Silk Road becoming the major pathway of west and east engaging in trade. The city wall is about a 3km by 4 km rectangle. When on top of it it's wide enough for a three lane road. It totally surrounds the inner city with several wide entrances and exits for cars now.

To walk all the way around is about a 14 km journey. It's popular for folks to do this on bicycles. Yes, you can ride a bike all the way around. Just have to climb the steps to the top. No elevator.

I was shocked how spacious it was on top of the wall. Seriously, at least 50 feet wide.

There were even stores and gift shops up there. Some other shots from on top of the wall.

Aiyun took me to a show to wrap up our night. It was a light show with choreographed dance that tells the story of the Tang dynasty and its opening up to the world. The show began about 500km away from the wall at a gathering spot. We had to stand around and wait in front of this transparent TV that suddenly came to life.

The beginning of the show was a welcome trying to duplicate the idea of welcoming the western world into Xian just as the Tang dynasty did. The opening of China via the Silk Road was the central theme of this show. If you look in the distance behind these video screens you can see a large lighted palace building. The actual show took place on the other side of that building. The video screens pulled to the sides and we were welcomed by a large cast that guided us towards the actual show.

The sides of the the walkway to the show were lined with actors and actresses in traditional outfits. The draw bridge came down and we were guided to the theater space with a large stage that separated and had other moving parts.

Aiyun liked the opening part best being welcomed and walking to the stage. I thought the animated stage was most interesting. At the end they did their finale and we had the chance to grab a final picture of the day.

Last note. We've gotten lucky so far on the weather. A few drops of rain walking on the wall, but not enough to warrant an umbrella. The temperature has been very comfortable. About 20 degrees (70 for yinz in the states). Yeah, the yinz is just for you Marie.

Terra cotta warriors tomorrow!

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