With family visiting, we took this opportunity to go to Xi-An to visit the Terra-Cotta Warriors and more.  We learned that Xi means west and An means peace.

Getting there

We opted to take the high-speed train from Beijing to Xi-An.  It was quite easy and got us there in under 5 hours (4 hours 23 minutes to be exact to go about 1,100 kilometers!).

Our Hotel

Based on recommendations, we opted to stay at the Hilton, which was quite nice.  We even got our room upgraded which was a pleasant surprise (how can I stay in rooms not as nice anymore?! j/k).  The location was good with a Starbucks within walking distance to right when leaving the hotel to get breakfast and the City Wall to the left when leaving the hotel for more views.  Our tour guide also easily picked us up from our hotel.

City at Night

We got in on a Friday evening,

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The Bell Tower

checked into our rooms, and then hit the town.  We ended up walking to the Bell Tower and stopping for dinner on the way.  It was a bit of a walk from the hotel but it was a nice evening and good to stretch our legs after our train ride.  It was also nice to see more of the city and to find a place to eat.

 

Food in Xi’An

We couldn’t find a food place at first (we did find lots of shopping), so I eventually suggested trying to turn down one street and when we did, we found a noodle place right away.  There were seats available (while still having customers inside-always a good sign), so we headed in.  The places we’ve been to have always had at least a picture menu.  This place…not so much.

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Noodles in Xi-An

In fact, the menu was just up on the board and written in old school Chinese (up and down).  The girl working at the counter was very nice though.  She got out her phone and was trying to help us translate/pick out with something.  Not quite sure what we were getting, we placed an order for two of one kind of noodles and two of another and hoped for the best.  Our food came, and the noodles were delicious (later we learned that Xi-An is known for their noodles).  My parents enjoyed trying authentic Chinese food, so that restaurant hit the spot.

After we got some food in us, we headed to the Bell Tower.  It was so pretty lit up at night.  Right next to it was the Muslim Quarter which we visited afterwards. DSCF0020 It was huge and busy there but interesting with the different foods and vendors.

 

 

 

Tour Day

City Wall

We started our tour by heading to the City Wall.  The City Wall has quite some history to it.  There are several entrances to the City Wall.  We drove to one entrance for our tour and later went back to the Wall by walking from our hotel to another entrance.

The Wall is interesting as you can look over one side of the Wall and see the new city and the other side has the older structures.

Since the Wall is big, you can even rent a bike to ride around all of it!

Big Wild Goose Pagoda

From there, DSCF0109we headed to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and got some more information on it like how the guardian lion statues that you see outside of so many famous Chinese structures represent yin and yang (female and male).  There were monks as well and this area is where some of the ‘head’ monks are buried.  After we toured the temple, we went inside to learn some more about calligraphy.

 

Terra-Cotta Warriors

After that, we headed to see the Terra-Cotta Warriors.  We first stopped at the Terra-Cotta Museum and Factory to see how all the replicas are made.  There were also some stunning pieces of Chinese furniture.

We then made our way to the actual sight of the Terra-Cotta Warriors.  There are three different pits (with maybe more to be discovered!).  Pit 2 and 3 are partially uncovered.  The warriors are in pieces and special technology is used to help piece them back together.  There is also a “warrior hospital” as they work to repair them.

Only one warrior was recovered completely in tact.  Another warrior still has some coloring (they were originally colored).

Pit 1 is where you have the unbelievable sight of the Terra-Cotta Warriors.

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It’s crazy to think that all of this was found by a farmer looking for a well!  It’s also interesting as you learn the history that people were killed if they didn’t meet the criteria.  As you look at the warriors, you’ll see that each one is different.  They all represent different classes depending on what they’re wearing and how their hair is styled.

Ending Our Time 

After we finished up the tour for the day, we spent the evening walking around the city some more.  We walked along the City Wall again and found a lively area down the street from our hotel for another meal.

The following morning we decided to visit the City Wall one last time before making our way to the train station to head back to Beijing.

TOTE:  Spend the few extra dollars to upgrade to first class on the train!