These are photos from the ancient city of Xian

In Xian


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Our next stop was the ancient city of Xian with over
3100 years of history. On the way into Xian though was likely the loudest and most disorderly flight I've
ever been on courtesy of China Eastern Airlines. It just seems like people have a very different idea of
personal space than we do here. Imagine a planeful of pushing and yelling people. Yeah. Really fun.
This is Natalia in our hotel (Grand New World) in Xi'an. She thinks she's 'really good at this move' now.


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Our new tour guide Jenna and her driver Mr Blue picked us up for ou first day in Xian.
We took a walk around the old city wall. Thankfully, the weather was a little
wetter and cooler for a change.


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I also got a photo in front of the main city gate. This is a 600-year old structure made entirely of
brick and clay.


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The top of the wall is wide enough to allow for walking and biking on top of it.


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A nice photo of Natalia at one of the corner pavilions.


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For tourist thrills, a few guys dress up in old Chinese soldier garb.


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This is one of the cooler HI hostels I've seen before.


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Natalia and I and our matching unbrellas.


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Natalia and I in soldier gear at the city wall.


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After our wall tour, we drove about an hour into the countryside towards where the terra cotta
warriors were. Our first stop was a classic Chinese tour company 'add-on' to our itinerary. That
means it wasn't something we agreed to do, but the tour company takes you there in hopes of earning
kickbacks on what you buy in the store. This was nominally a 'factory tour', but practically was
a place to sell tourist crap. However, it was also good for funny photos.


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I think it's funnier with Randall in place of the head.


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Ok, this is still really funny.


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Our guide 'Woody' walked us around the shop floor showing us the terra cotta stuff they make here. These
are half-finished bodies that would eventually have faces on them. For 4500 RMB (about $500), you can have
your own face carved on a terra cotta warrior. Who doesn't want that as you walk into the house?


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As much as the terra cotta was funny and cool, the lacquer work here was actually really impressive.
If that actually suited our style, I'd be all over this stuff.


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Seriously, you can pick your size, pick your numbers, and make your own army for your house.

The Terra Cotta Warrior Museum


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The Terra Cotta Army Wiki Link was built
to go along with Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It would be considered funerary artwork
since it was built specifically to go into the mausoleum. This was one of the first glimpses of the
soldiers we saw.


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Me, Bubbles, and some terra cotta warriors. Over the years, the wooden roof collapsed on the soldiers,
cavalry, horses, and archers, and it was only by luck that some local farmers dug up a few pieces of terra
cotta in the 70s and Chinese archaeologists decided to investigate. It's now a UNESCO heritage site.


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Some information about pit 3.


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A better view of the large pits where some of the soldiers were discovered. Quite a few of these pits
are still slowly being excavated.


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Natalia and one of the archers.


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A better view of one of the archers.


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A map of pit 2.


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One of the many things in China labeled as the Eighth wonder of the World. In this case, I have a tendency
to agree with them as it's pretty awesome.


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Natalia and some of the terra cotta soldiers.


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Me and the terra cotta soldiers.


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Natalia and I and the terra cotta soldiers. The government is steadily excavating and rebuilding the
many broken soldiers. They estimate there are over 6000 of them still in pieces. There are over
4 million tourists that visit Xian in a year. It felt like most of them were with us on this day as it
felt pretty busy.


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Randall along with the terra cotta soldiers.

Video of the Terra Cotta Soldiers pit 2



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I give Emperor Qin's soldiers and horses the Paul Perrault stamp of approval.


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Natalia thought the mascot for the Expo in Xian was cute. It's apparently a baby pomegranate.


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Natalia and I and the baby mascot for the 2011 World Horticultural Expo in Xian.

Video of a dough vendor outside the Terra Cotta Museum



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Once we got back to the city, Jenna took us to see the Wild Goose Pagoda - a Buddhist temple from
about 650 AD.


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Natalia and I and the Wild Goose Pagoda. We saw some differences here between Indian Buddhism and
Chinese Buddhism including the introduction of the skinny Buddha.


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It turns out that we're pretty popular as tourists. Since there aren't a lot of young white people
traveling China, I think most people assumed we were famous or something. This random girl asked
our tour guide if she could take a picture with us. We obliged but asked for one in return.


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I have a head full of Pagoda.


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Natalia and our tour guide Jenna. We think that Jenna is about the same age as our previous guide in
Guilin - about 28. Jenna confirmed that her agency tries to hire only younger people since the energy
required to be a tour guide is pretty high.


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We took a walk through the old Muslim quarter (Xian is fair ways west in China and lies on the silk road).
We wound up at an old mosque that dates from the 13th century.


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I thought the blue tilework on the roof here was absolutely stunning. There are a surprising number
of Ethnic Minorities who appear to receive government funding, in spite of the government's staunch
edict of not supporting religions.

Video of driving through Muslim Quarter


Our dumpling feast and Tang dynasty show


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After a short rest, we had a dumpling feast in our hotel where there was also a Tang Dynasty show.



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I think we had something like 14 different kinds of dumplings. They were served with all manner
of sauces and dips.


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Natalia got quite good with her chopsticks.


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This is course number 3. They made dumplings that looked like walnuts. The amount of workmanship that
went into making the dumplings look pretty was quite impressive.


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An assortment of different dumplings.


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This one is shaped to look like a swan.


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More dumplings until you can't eat any more. Yum yum!


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Next came the show portion of the dinner show. This was called the Tang Dynasty show and it was
quite 'something'. They had excellent costumes, but a really terrible zither. There was also
a trumpet solo in here somewhere too.


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More extensive costumes.


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Some fine acrobats.


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These are crazy green and yellow costumes with long sleeves.


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Here's the incredibly bad trumpet solo.


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This is one of the statues outside of our hotel.

Traveling on our own in Xian


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Due to some prompting by my friend Nate, we decided to take an extra day to wander in Xian.
We started our day wandering the Muslim Quarter looking for fun street food to eat. Even though we
had a buffet breakfast, Natalia found an onion bun for mid-morning snack.


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We quite enjoyed just wandering the streets in this area.


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This might be the longest single word I've ever seen in my life.


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Natalia really struggled with the amount of raw meat hanging in the streets and the shops with no
air conditioning anywhere.


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It doesn't really matter what time of day it is, Natalia wants ice cream. This was a pre-lunch snack
at Harry Joseph ice cream parlour. The tag line on this kind of ice cream is "Great Taste - Great Pleasure".


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I really can't believe I didn't buy this sign.


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This gives an idea of how narrow these streets are in the Muslim quarter.


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Here we are having a bit of street meat.


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From what little mandarin I could sort out, we had BBQ mutton and tofu along with some kind of
weird mystery orange ball thing.


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Yummy mutton!


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We wandered past the Xian Bell Tower on our way to do some mall shopping.


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We found a donut shop serving pork floss donuts. Seriously.


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We spent an hour looking for an English bookstore but didn't wind up finding it. We took a street
taxi back to our hotel, which was quite an excursion. The taxi didn't care which side of the road he
was on, or whether he was on the sidewalk. After our motorcycle ride, we decided to have dinner somewhere
that wasn't Chinese food. We found an Irish bar/Italian restaurant that served us bacon cheese fries, lasagne,
and fajitas along with Guinness Export. We struggled to find a cab ride home though since I'm not
sure whether they wanted a longer fare or just didn't want to take two white people.

Video of us in a motorcycle taxi in Xian



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Our last morning in Xian, we went to the Han Dynasty Mausoleum. Randall had the opportunity to take
a photo with the pomegranate baby.


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Before going into the mausoleum, we had to put on plastic slippers.


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Here's a scale model of the Han dynasty burial site.


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This was the 2nd dynasty and they buried much smaller soldiers than in the Qin dynasty. They also
buried more items for regular life as opposed to the warrior-style of the Qin. This might have impacted
why the Han dynasty lasted 200 years vs the Qin's 25 years.


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The Han ate most of the animals available to them.


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...including dogs, pigs, and goats.


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Randall and some mini Han dynasty soldiers.


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We only had this driver for one day but we still took photos with him.


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Jenna and Natalia at the Xian airport.


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You can buy just about anything bagged in China.


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A funny sign in the bus to our plane to Chengdu.

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