Xi'an is a popular tourist destination for several reasons: it is home to an archaeological marvel in the Terracotta Warriors, it has magnificent city walls, and is home to much history since it was the first capital of China many moons ago. Our first impressions of the city were the well located but ridiculously crowded train station, and the heavy air. We could taste the chemicals in the air and it also made visibility poor. Aside from the air quality, Xi'an is a lovely city. It is well laid out and has an interesting and lively Muslim quarter, where we looked at many souvenir stalls and had some excellent food.

The walls around the city are the tallest and easily the longest we have seen around any city in China. We went up onto the walls with a couple of guys we first met in Chengdu and hired bicycles to cruise around. Unfortunately there was some restoration work being done on one section so we couldn't circumnavigate the city. One of our bikes had a chain break during the journey so we had to use a camera case strap to rig up a tow bike!

Being in Xi'an we had to go and see the warriors, so we shunned the tours and took the local bus out to the museum. This turned out to be a good choice which saved us lots of money. The warriors were impressive in their workmanship and sheer number, even though the pits were mostly unexcavated. There are also weapons, horses, chariots made of wood and bronze, and different formations of soldiers to make the army look as real as possible. The tourist extravaganza built around the archaeological site is highly excessive, and seems to remove the possibility of unearthing more sites nearby, even though the information in the center kept reiterating that it was likely that undiscovered sites remained. Overall we liked the warriors but we couldn't help but feel they weren't all that they were cracked up to be.

China loves their musical fountain performances and we had heard that the biggest and best is located in Xi'an. Naturally we decided to check it out. For 15 minutes classical music is played whilst jets of water spurt into the air, lit by coloured lights. It is quite a spectacle, and in Xi'an the fountains cover an area stretching over 100 metres long. It was also amusing to watch the people who decided to brave the cool night by running through the powerful jets of water.

After much consideration we decided to buy a new camera as our old one had a scratched small screen that was difficult to use and we thought a new camera might be able to take better shots. We decided on a digital non-SLR with a sweet 15x Carl Zeiss zoom lens. Awesome!

No comments: