Thursday, February 16, 2012

China - part 2 (Stele Forest, Big Goose Pagoda, Lantern Festival, Terracotta Warriors)

I am hoping that part 2 and 3 are a bit more exciting for you then part 1 was!  Here we go:

Friday 01/27/2012 - One of the joys of vacation is sleeping in - which we did today (beside the firecrackers going off at weird times in the night and early morning!).  We started our day with a walk to the Stele Forest (which is a museum of sorts).

We mainly searching for the Nestorian Christian's tablet.  We were successful in finding it!  {Honestly, I had a kinda hard time finding a site to give you a brief and true overview of the Nestorians.  I found this one - not perfect, but should help you out some.}

Here is a website telling you what the inscription on the tablet says in English.

We then braved a public bus to go see the Big Goose Pagoda.  I feel like I could write an entire blog post on public buses in China.  Pros: It is 1 RMB per person per ride.  (that is $0.16 in the good ol' USofA - cheapest bus ride ever).  I can't really think of any other made me much more thankful for public transportation in Korea.

The Big Goose Pagoda is really cool.

It is not foggy, just smoggy :)
We ate Papa John's before going to explore the pagoda (I feel like I could write an entire blog post about American pizza - without pickles, sweet potatoes, or corn on top it.  Thank you Lord for western restaurants in Eastern countries!)

One aspect that I really liked about the Big Goose Pagoda and surrounding temple areas was that it was still in progress.  Well not the pagoda, that was completed about 1350 years ago, but the temple area near it.  We always see temples/shrines completed.  It was so cool to see exposed wood before they painted.  I thought it was beautiful in its simplicity.

No red paint yet...a work still in progress
We ended the day heading back towards Xi'an (another opportunity to be thankful for crosswalks in Korea and public transportation).  We decided to check out the City Wall and the Lantern festival taking place on it.

Since Picnik is closing up shop in April, I have this compelling need to make a lot of collages between now and then.

It was so cool!  The city wall goes all the way around the center of the city.  I think it is about 10 miles all the way around it.  (If you are there in October, they have a marathon on it!)  It is hard to describe how massive the wall is.  It is huge.  There were fireworks going off and there were tons of big "lanterns".  We had fun comparing the lanterns from different continents (and the cultural stereotypes).  This goes without saying, but it was cold.  Oh man, it was cold.  But the lanterns made it worth it.

Saturday 01/28/2012: Terracotta Warrior Day!  Yeah!
We skipped the offered tours and went the frugal way.  You can walk to the bus station for free, take a bus ride for about a dollar per person - do not be alarmed if the bus is pulling out of the parking lot and people are still hopping on...that's how they roll in China (pun intended).  And an hour later, we arrived.  Upon arriving at the Terracotta Warriors, you have the joy of wading through 5 or 6 people who insist that you need a tour guide and they are the perfect choice ("Even Chinese people who come here, get tour guide.") and a half a mile of one dollar, one dollar, one dooolllaaarrr tourist traps, before you can actually enter and see the Terracotta Warriors.  We started at the beginning with viewing pit 1, first.  It was awe-inspiring to me.

There are so many soldiers!  One of the reoccurring thoughts I had while in China was "how could they do this before technology?!?!?!"  It amazed me how precise and extensive buildings, walls, and soldiers could be made.

This would be the beginning of the end for my camera :(  
After some more viewing and trying to avoid heckling, we headed back into Xi'an.  Just in case you are feeling a little bit drowsy on the long bus ride back, feel free to play the ABC game.  Yes, there are fewer signs in English along the road, but there is a gold mine of q, x, and z to help the game go quickly.

For dinner, we headed to the Muslim Quarter.  We had the most delicious sandwich in the history of ever.  (insert me making my Korean, "waaaaaah!" sound here).  Basically it was pulled pork on an English muffin - that is the best description I can give.  I do have some pictures of the Muslim Quarter, but my camera was on its deathbed by that point in time, so the pictures are pretty grain-y.  (major sad day.)  Oh well - we have the memories.

I think that wraps up Friday and Saturday of the China adventure.

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