Kelocity.com

A runner with an appetite for adventure!

Xian: Singing in the Rain May 9, 2014

Filed under: China,Travel,Xian — Kelocity @ 2:38 pm
Tags: , ,

 

On our last day in Xi’An we had another lackluster breakfast…. bread, jam, bok choy, watermelon and hash browns. haha our tour guide had psyched us up for the hash browns. Best part of breakfast for sure. hahaIMG_1381

Some more modern Terra Cotta Warriors for ya. The art was super cute! Oh, if the Emperor could see this now!

IMG_1383

IMG_1386

This morning was supposed to be an included bike ride around the city walls (it’s about eight miles all the way around). It’s one of the best preserved city walls in the world and I wanted to ride on it! And not only that, we arranged to have a tandem bike to do it! But when woke up, it was pouring out… there would be no bike ride. =(

IMG_1388
Little did we know this would be the first of SEVEN rainy days on the trip. We must have gotten lucky. Boo!

IMG_1390

IMG_1391

IMG_1393

Most people saw the rain and went back to bed (they went clubbing the night before, remember? lol) But we convinced our tour guide to at least walk us to the wall so we could see what we could. IMG_1394

Rain and all… it was worth it. And because of the bad weather, we had the walls all to ourselves! IMG_1395

IMG_1396

IMG_1397

I can imagine on a good day, the wall is bustling with people, but today, it was just me and my umbrella. IMG_1398

See that tower off in the distance in the photo below? That was the gorgeous bell tower we saw lit up the night before. IMG_1400

IMG_1401

IMG_1402

IMG_1405

IMG_1406

Awe, these are the bikes we were supposed to be riding. Hi bikes! Sad!IMG_1408

IMG_1409

At least this family of ducks enjoyed the rain!IMG_1417

IMG_1421

IMG_1424

 

After our rainy excursion was complete, we went back to the hotel to join our group and head out to explore the markets. It seemed like it would have been a great place to wander and look around, but the rain made this so hard to enjoy. IMG_1438

IMG_1440

We gave it an effort and walked a few blocks, and then ended up back with our group at McDonalds to stay dry. Irving and I have only had McDonalds twice in the past 10-15 years or so. Once was in Russia when there were no other options (I ordered fries) and once here in Xi’An. We split some fries and apple pies. I am not proud. IMG_1443
But this ice cream sundae I went back for… that was another story. SO GOOD!IMG_1444

Then it was time to hit the airport for our flight to Shanghai! I wish our time in Xi’An was a little sunnier, but we loved what we saw. Maybe we’ll come back someday, would love to! Bye Ken! Thank you!
IMG_1445

PS: How does Xi’An have Dunkin Donuts and Los Angeles doesn’t? Seriously WHY?IMG_1447

Flight to Shanghai! Now Boarding!IMG_1450

IMG_1451

We had an easy flight on China Eastern airlines. It was about 2 hours. All domestic flights in China serve a full meal (we didn’t take one though). Apparently some other flights are so short, they serve the meals after you board, and then you have to hold them on your lap during takeoff. haha I wish I could have seen that happen. IMG_1452

Here we go! Landing in Shanghai! Feels so adventurous and exotic!IMG_1458

Oh good, my bag made it! hahaIMG_1463

 

Shanghai awaits us!

 

Xian: Tang Dynasty Dinner Show

Filed under: China,Travel,Xian — Kelocity @ 8:14 am
Tags: , , ,

One of the optional add-ons for this tour was the Tang Dynasty Dinner Show. It’s a cultural performance that you enjoy after dining on 20 different kinds of dumplings. Plus Samantha Brown visited this place in one of her shows, so it was a definitely yes for us.

IMG_1222
IMG_1223

IMG_1228

IMG_1231

Dinner. Oh, the dinner. First of all, they had lotus root on the famous Lazy Susan. (The Chinese love their Lazy Susan’s, if you haven’t noticed). Back to the Lotus root, isn’t it pretty? 11 o’clock in the picture below. SO GOOD!

IMG_1232

IMG_1235

But the centerpiece of the dinner were the dumplings. Let’s eat!

IMG_1243

IMG_1240

There were 18 different kinds I believe. Each one is shaped like whatever is inside of it. For example the pork ones looked like little pigs, the fish ones were shaped like fish, the chicken looked like chicken and the walnut dessert ones were shaped like walnuts! I only ate the vegetarian ones (they even brought me a plate of different vegetable ones just for me!) But I was stuffed by the end. I ate a LOT of dumplings!

_dumplings
IMG_1247

IMG_1270

IMG_1272

And then it was on with the show! It was filled with traditional music and dance. So fun to watch.
IMG_1275
IMG_1277

IMG_1280

IMG_1283

IMG_1293

IMG_1300

I loved this part. It looked like a painting and then they ‘came to life’.

IMG_1309

IMG_1319

IMG_1324
After the show, our bus took us back to our hotel and then most people were going out clubbing. We knew we didn’t want to partake that night, so when the bus got close to the hotel, we asked him to pull over so we could get off and walk the 1/4 mile back from there. The city walls were all lit up and we wanted pictures! How gorgeous is this bell tower?!IMG_1339

IMG_1340

Oh… side note… fake apple stores are EVERYWHERE in China!

IMG_1342

Even the Terra Cotta statues are fans of iPads!
IMG_1344
Ok, back to city walls. They were so impressive in person. Like the most beautiful Christmas light display you’ve ever seen!IMG_1347

Here’s an outline of the walls with the guard towers lit up. IMG_1358

We played with the exposure a bit to try to capture it, but it was best enjoyed in the flesh. The camera couldn’t quite grab its beauty.IMG_1360

IMG_1362

A wonderful introduction to Xi’An. China is definitely proving to be pretty amazing.

 

 

Xian: The Terra Cotta Warriors May 8, 2014

Filed under: China,Travel,Xian — Kelocity @ 7:11 pm
Tags: , , ,

 

When I last left you, we had just arrived into Xi’An on an overnight train from Beijing. As soon as we grabbed our luggage, it was back on a new bus and ready for a new day!

IMG_1024
Our guide for Xi’An (pronounced: Shee-han) was Ken. Hi Ken! He gave us a brief introduction to this little city and we headed over for breakfast in our new hotel.

IMG_1027

 

This was the Skytel and it was located really close to the ancient city walls. IMG_1030

Maybe we just got to breakfast ‘late’, but I wasn’t too impressed at the spread there. Only a few ‘western’ options… but the ‘eastern’ options were that great either. I mostly ate carbs and watermelon.IMG_1031

Our tour continued on to an ‘art museum’… i put that in quotes because it really was just a glorified store where they give you a condensed lesson and then try to sell you things. This was becoming a trend on this Contiki tour… one of my biggest (only?) complaint was that we felt that we missed out on actual sight seeing because we were forced into attending these disguised shopping excursions.
IMG_1039

A painting dedicated to the ‘one-child policy’ law that China has become famous for.IMG_1042

But the one cool part about visiting this ‘museum’ was that we got a Chinese calligraphy class for free. They taught us about all the strokes that make up the Chinese characters and then we got to practice making them. IMG_1048
Irving, the artist!
IMG_1050

Beautiful, no? Kind of makes me want to take Chinese, it was really fun!IMG_1052

Maybe on future tours, they can offer a half day calligraphy class as a trip add-on. I would have gladly paid to be able to paint more, that was fun!IMG_1057

IMG_1060
After that detour, we were more than ready to visit the star attraction of Xi’An: The Terra Cotta Warriors! In 1974, a farmer was digging for water when he came across some artifacts. After they excavated, they found an army of 8,000 terra cotta (clay) soldiers that dates back to 200BC. The farmer who discovered them was hailed as a local hero. He now works in the bookstore autographing books about the soldiers. He’s getting older now, and we saw him slurping noodles at his desk. You’re not allowed to take pictures of him though. But it was cool to see him!

IMG_1062

There are three large pits you can visit to see the Terra Cotta soldiers, and likely many more that haven’t been unearthed yet. The army was intended to protect the Emperor in his afterlife. They were all lined up underground in rows leading up to his tomb (that mound in the background of the diagram in the photo below).

IMG_1068

IMG_1070

Standing on the overlook above all of the soldiers was breathtaking. The sheer number of them was impressive. Let alone the detail and work that went into making each one of them. These massive pits had alternating rows of soldiers and rock. There used to be beams of wood that went across the entire area, and roofs were put on top of them. Over time, the wood decayed or caved in, crushing all the men below. None of them were found in tact. Each one had been painstakingly put back together, piece by piece, by archeologists.

IMG_1074

IMG_1076

Keep in mind, this is only one of the pits we visited! Look how massive it is! It’s believed that almost all of the artists and laborers who worked on them were all killed. The Emperor didn’t want word of the army to get out. After all, it wasn’t intended for anyone to ever see, it’s sole purpose was to protect him in the afterlife.
IMG_1077
IMG_1080

 

Each one is life-size, and no two are alike.
IMG_1082
IMG_1098

IMG_1108
There are still many, many, many soldiers still being put together by scientists. 
IMG_1111

All of them faced away from the tomb, to guard it from intruders.IMG_1114

IMG_1119
IMG_1120

They found out that they were not constructed from one piece of clay (it would have weighed too much and been physically impossible to construct. So they were assembled in pieces. Here’s an example of bodies that have been put back together and are still awaiting their heads. Also in this picture, you can see that their hands used to be holding something. All of them were originally holding weapons (spears, bow & arrows, etc). Those were made of wood and have since decayed.

IMG_1139

They even made horses and chariots! This Emperor thought of everything! In a nearby pit, they also found musicians, artists and shopkeepers too. Just in case. =) Apparently he also created rivers of Mercury around his nearby tomb to simulate water… and it is rumored that he even drank Mercury too. Could explain a lot, I think!IMG_1141

IMG_1148

Here’s a good picture of what the roofs used to look like. This is a section of the pit that hasn’t been unearthed yet. You can see how they covered them up originally. This wood must have petrified into the earth for it to still be visible.

IMG_1151

Check out the detail on each one of the soldiers. These are just a few well-preserved examples:

IMG_1156

 

Each one was painted in brilliant colors, but when they excavated them, the color literally peeled off after being exposed to the air.

IMG_1158

IMG_1178

IMG_1181

Once we were done admiring this incredible place, we headed to lunch.

IMG_1202

I’ll admit, it was a touristy lunch place that caters to large groups— but they get major points because they had a “Noodle Demonstration Station”… which was actually a machine…dressed as a person…slicing noodles into a bowl. I am not kidding.

IMG_1203

And he made good noodles too. I went back for seconds!IMG_1209

We also had our usual lazy-susan style fare as well. lots of vegetables and rice. IMG_1210

And let Xi’An be known as the only place during our whole trip that served dessert… Sugared Honey Potatoes. It tasted like fried dough. I think I was the only one at our table who liked it, but it was pretty awesome. IMG_1211

Then we went back to our hotel to finally check in. After sleeping on a train the night before, this was a welcomed stop. We freshened up and got ready for an exciting night out at the Tang Dynasty Dinner show! That deserves its own post, stay tuned!IMG_1214

 

 
%d bloggers like this: