My original plan was to hold off until I can post a video about my experience in Xi’an instead of this story-like post, but, since I’m currently traveling in the XinJiang Province—where extraordinarily heavy internet restriction is the norm due to some recent terrorist attacks in this region—I can’t upload videos at the moment. For now, you’ll just have to follow me along on my journey the good ole fashioned way and read about it. Or at the very least, just glance over my photos, you lazy bum!
In fact I’ve already finished editing my video about Xi’an, and just so you know, it’s all about the delicious street food of this region (and I’m excited because it should be one of my best videos yet), but it’s going to have to wait.
I’m not gonna apologize for my recent blogging absence. One thing I’ve learned since I started this website is that travel blogging can easily ruin a vacation. So while I’ve been traveling westward through China these past weeks, I put my blog in the backseat and focused on soaking up each daily experience and enjoying the company of other travelers instead of stressing over a post deadline. After all, I’m my own boss here.
After visiting the small city of Zibo for a few days and stuffing my face with homemade jiaozi, I flew to Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi, where, instead of sleeping in a hostel, I couch surfed with Cathy, a 30-year-old Chinese graphic artist and all-around cool person. While she worked during the day, I hit the streets solo to discover photo and video opportunities, then hung out with her at night and discussed ideas of where to visit next.
I spent three days in Xi’an, which was plenty of time to check out a few of the most iconic historic and cultural sites of the city. By far, the Qin Terra-cotta Army is the most renowned (and over-blogged-about) attraction in the city. I’m usually not into this kind of stuff, but the story behind this ancient army is actually pretty interesting.
Long story short, the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, was a tyrannical asshole who, at the age of 13, ordered hundreds of thousands of laborers (slaves) to begin building this massive army of terra-cotta warriors which was to be buried with him as a means of protection in his afterlife. 35 years later, the paranoid emperor got his wish. When he died, this ridiculously massive army of soldiers was lain to rest with him.
Nobody knows exactly how many statues were constructed, and most are still buried, but some estimate that there are more than 8,000.
Cool thing is, this ancient army was only discovered 30 years ago by a Chinese farmer while he was digging a well just outside of the city. Even cooler is the fact that, when I visited the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum museum, that same farmer who unearthed the first terra-cotta warrior head was there signing books, so I snuck in a quick photo with the accidental archeologist.
If the more than 2,000-year-old terra-cotta army isn’t ancient enough for you, you’re in luck. Xi’an is a city with over 6,000 years of history, so naturally, the museum business here is booming. Supposedly, this area of China is home to the first civilization ever, and some remains of this ancient civilization are still well preserved.
I visited the Banpo Museum, where you can check out the preserved geological imprints of ancient homes and skeletal remains of folks who lived and farmed here a hell of a long time ago. Seriously, there are some old artifacts here.
Xi’an is the city where the the old Silk Road begins, and the Xi’an Bell Tower is symbolic as the the starting point of this ancient trade route.
The Silk Road opened the doors to the culinary and cultural influence of other cultures, particularly central asian and middle eastern cultures. That much is especially evident in the Muslim Quarter in the center of the city, where I did most of my photographing and filming.
This market was honestly my favorite part about Xi’an. I visited it every day during my three-day stay to eat and film delicious street food. Trying new and interesting foods is one of the best parts of traveling in China and Xi’an was a veritable paradise for my taste buds.
I went with Cathy to visit the Wild Goose Pagoda, which dually serves as the location of Asia’s largest water fountain, and subsequently, water fountain light show. The free fountain show is about half an hour long, and it’s alright, but the overwhelming number of tourists vying for a front row view made it a stressful show to watch.
My travel philosophy is simple: things always go according to plan when you have no plan. I’ve been roaming westward through China without thinking about tomorrow, and it’s turned out to be an excellent journey so far. Right now I’m relaxing in a hostel in Kashgar in the far southwest of the XinJiang Province (about as far west as you can go without entering Pakistan), and the internet is abysmally slow. I promise I’ll post my video about Xi’an as soon as I can, so hold tight until then. Thanks for following me along on my journey! Part 3 coming soon, maybe.