Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Day 11 (January 10)
After a night on the not so soft-sleeper train, we arrived in the fascinating city of Xian. Xian, like most cities in China, is very old and has a rich history. The entire city is enclosed in a rectangular shaped city wall that was built for protection from invaders. Another reason for Xian’s fame is the discovery of Emperor Qin Shi’s tomb. In 1974, farmers outside of Xian were digging a well and came across a terracotta warrior army. Soon the Chinese government funded a project to unearth the army and the late Emperor’s tomb. Although government funding ceased after only 1/3 of the estimated army had been discovered, it is still a fascinating tourist destination. After visiting the museum of terracotta warriors, we were able to ride bikes around Xian’s city wall. It was here that I first noticed the thick smog that is a result of many years of air pollution. The smog hanging over the city was so think that it was difficult to take deep breaths. Many of the city’s residents wore face masks to protect their lungs from the harmful pollution. Even though it was difficult to breathe in the city, it is not difficult to eat. Xian is home to a famous dumpling restaurant where we tasted 18 different kinds of Chinese dumplings. While tasting the flavors ranged from pork and seafood to walnut and cabbage we also enjoyed a traditional Chinese dancing performance. The interpretive dance and explanations provided me with the opportunity to see just how much pride the Chinese people had in their history and culture.