Home > China, China: Xi'an, Travelling > Xi’an – Day 1 of Sightseeing and eating

Xi’an – Day 1 of Sightseeing and eating

My brother loves history – all sorts of history, so when we were trying to organize our China family trip, he couldn’t resist but suggest Xi’an. I didn’t know much about Xi’an except for the Terracotta Warriors but I knew I was in for a real adventure!

We arrived late Friday night in Xi’an and luckily I organized a pick up from the hotel. I just couldn’t imagine haggling taxi drivers at that hour of the night with my parents, brother and sister in law. With the five of us traveling (hubby couldn’t make it as he had to work!) we would have ended up with two taxis anyway, so a pick up was the best solution! Little did I know that the driver became our ‘tour guide’ for the weekend as well as our driver! He was indeed one of the best driver / tour guides I have ever had. He took us to our hotel (we ended up staying at Citadines Xi’an and was near town. It was ok, bit old but for the price, it wasn’t too bad!) and then offered to take us around for a couple of hours!

Xi’an is absolutely gorgeous at night, with all the bright lights.

The streets and trees were all lit up – it was just stunning.

In the morning, our driver was going to take us around – to see the Terracotta Warriors amongst other things. We agreed to meet at around 8.30am (that’s EARLY!) but we managed to get up a little bit earlier than that to get breakfast. I really didn’t want to eat breakfast at the hotel, I mean, come on… We were in China and there are heaps of food, especially street foods!

Across the street from our hotel there were a row of shops that sold food. Below is a photo of a man who made my breakfast every morning I was in Xi’an!

His specialty, as you can see are bau’s (which are steamed buns). He made all sorts of bau’s – vegetables bau’s, pork bau’s, red bean bau’s – you name it – he had it and it was unbelievably cheap!

At 0.50 Yuan each, these were incredibly cheap and incredibly tasty! Let’s just say that we bought many different types of bau’s – all costing us about 8 Yuan!!

We also got something that resemble an omelette but was served with lettuce and chili. My brother absolutely loved this! He seriously ate two on his own!

Here is a view of the Bell Tower from the streets across our hotel.

Our first stop was Xi’an city wall and it was absolutely amazing. “The wall was started by the Ming Dynasty in 1370. The wall measured 25.7km length, 12 -16m in thickness at the base, and the area within the wall was ca. 36 km squared”.

Here is a photo from a different angle.

And one last one…

Next stop was the Terracotta Warriors factory – where they are all made. The terracotta army figures are manufactured both in workshops by government laborers and also by local craftsmen.

“Studies show that eight face moulds were most likely used, and then clay was added to provide individual facial features. Once assembled, intricate features such as facial expressions were added” it was quite amazing to see how these were made and there were many different sizes – they all vary in height, uniform and hairstyle in accordance with rank.

We then visited a temple. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any photos inside, so I only took a photo of the gate

and the entrance of the temple.

By this time we were absolutely starved as it was past lunch time! Our driver / tour guide, E, took us to this restaurant which was near the Terracotta Warriors. This restaurant is famous for their noodles – which is apparently handmade. Since it was their specialty, we ordered noodles with chicken and potatoes. The sauce was a bit curry like and the noodles were extra thick rice noodles. I thought this dish was a bit ‘meh’ – it didn’t really do it for me, it was nice but nothing ‘special’ about it.

We ordered some vegetables and mushroom stirfry. I thought this was definitely better than the noodles.

We also ordered chicken in some sweet sesame sauce, which was quite ordinary. The chicken was deep fried, it was tender but the sauce just wasn’t right. It had a funny after taste which I didn’t really enjoy.

Overall, lunch was a pretty ordinary, I would have been happier with my bau’s from this morning!

After lunch, we finally went to visit the Terracotta Warriors and OMG, I was totally and utterly amazed. This place was HUGE! We spent a good few hours here.

By way of background, “The Terracotta Army was discovered in 1974 in the eastern suburbs of Xi’an. The Terracotta Army is a form of funerary art buried with the First Emperor of Qin in 210 – 209 BC. (He declared himself the first emperor of China in 221 BCE). There are seriously 3 pits.

Terracotta Pit No.1 – discovered by local villagers in March 1974 who were drilling for wells on a piece of barren land. The east-west rectangular pit, measuring 252 yards long, 68 yards wide and 16 feet deep – it was absolutely huge! There are over 6,000 terracotta warriors and horses in Pit 1, of which 1,000 have been unearthed.

From memory we went to Pit 3 straight after Pit 1. Pit 3 is the command center or headquarters for all the groups in the other two pits. Pit 3 measures 19.2 yards long from east to west, 23.4 yards wide from north to south and 15.7 feet deep.

By this stage I was overloaded with history and my feet were aching. I think we were all exhausted and skipped Pit 2. It didn’t seem long but we spent a good 3 hours here and were ready to go!

Our next stop was the garden and a place we could have hot baths. The garden was gorgeous but seriously by this stage we were just so buggered that all we wanted to do was sit and enjoy the view. I felt sorry for the tour guide, not E, but garden’s tour guide telling us what each of the places meant. I found a place to sit and sat there, observing the tourists and admiring the scenery.

Our driver, E, suggested that we have the Jiaozi (dumpling) banquets and Tang Dynasty performance. The performance had beautiful costumes, dances and live music. It was delightful to watch especially after our meal.

The jiaozi are well known for their different tastes as well as their attractive shapes. The materials of fillings are made from seasonal vegetables, poultry meat, fish, red meat and other delicacies from land and sea. Little did we know that we would all eat about 80 dumplings all up! No joke… we were first presented with a basket of 10 dumplings – 2 types – one pork and one vegetables, one each.

As soon as we finished these, another basket was placed in front of us.. and no kidding, there were 8 baskets in total.

Basket 2: chili pork dumplings (left) and pork and chives dumplings (right)

Basket 3: swan like dumplings – which were chicken dumplings (left) and lamb and vegetable dumplings (right)

Basket 4: pork dumplings (left) and spinach dumplings (right)

Basket 5: vermicelli and vegetables dumplings (left) and vegetables curry dumplings (right)

Basket 6: prawn dumplings (left) and fish dumplings with peas (right)

Basket 7: red bean dumplings (left) and chicken with vermicelli dumplings (right)

Dumpling 8: a plate of braised pork dumplings.

As you can see we all had over 10 dumplings each. All the dumplings were boiled and some were tasty and others were a ‘meh’. My least favourite ones were the curry dumplings and the fish with peas dumplings – it was just weird. I never thought I could ever OD’ed on dumplings but that night I certainly did. We were all stuffed! Luckily we had an hour and a bit to sit to watch the performance. Dinner was definitely more enjoyable than lunch!

We got back to the hotel at about 11pm and we were all absolutely exhausted. I showered and before I knew it was sound asleep! I was THAT tired!

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