Posts Tagged ‘ Xi’an ’

China 1 Week Itinerary

Great wall. Terra cotta warriors. Dumplings. Maglev. Beijing. These (are just some of the many) things come to mind when I think of China.

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I’ve been to China before but visited Yangshuo and Guilin for its scenic beauty. It was alright because I was already planning a trip back. Due to various reasons, it didn’t happen despite the fact that I’ve already booked my plane ticket, I had my visa, and itinerary and accommodations were sorted. Fast forward to 2015. It finally happened! I was able to travel to China! And this time around, Beijing (and other cities) it is! :D

Michael and I flew to China last May 2015 and went around the country for a week before continuing the journey to Japan.

Arrival in Beijing
Since I prefer not to be holed up in a chain-hotel, we’ve decided to stay in a traditional courtyard in a hutong. Hutongs are “alleys formed by lines of traditional courtyard residences joined together.” The fact that they are  a destination in themselves was a big plus. It’d be quiet and serene within the courtyard but as soon as you step outside, you have numerous choices of shops, eateries and sights to choose from.  We arrived late at night. No problem. My luggage was one of the last to appear in the carousel baggage that the public transport I had read and planned for was already closed. Plan B: take a cab- after figuring out where to get a cab and having them call our courtyard for directions.

Day 1: Beijing
It was a warm and sunny day. We had a “tourist map” of the city. We were ready to explore. And because of that, we decided to walk. First stop was the Bell and Drum Tower. They were pretty close to the courtyard we were staying at and saw it from the night before. The climb up the Drum Tower was pretty steep that when we saw  it was the same for the Bell Tower, we passed the latter -he had a bad sprain from playing football just days before our trip! Outside was this eatery where we were happy to find that all the food and drink we ordered costs less than 2GBP. More walking led to Jingshan Park with a beautiful view of the Forbidden City – our next stop. We walked the perimeter of the Forbidden City and ended up in Tian’amen Square. We took a cab back home. We had a business card with our courtyard’s name written in Mandarin on it (this really helps!).

Sunset in Tian'amen Square

Sunset in Tian’amen Square

Day 2: Beijing
Since we’ve realised that eventhough sights look close together on our map they’re still (really) far apart, we got on a cab to take us to the Temple of Heaven. It seems that the place is a popular choice for pre-nuptial photo session. There were at least 5 couple when we got there. I was checking out the gowns of the ladies. The bf thought the whole thing was too over-the-top. Looks like we won’t have any of that then T_T.  After more walking, and lunch break of course, onward to the Summer Palace it is! He didn’t want to backtrack when it was time for us to head home so we just kept on walking. He admitted that we might have gotten a bit lost after we found ourselves on a dead end under a bridge, beside a river or was it a stream, can never really tell with cars whizzing past overhead!

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The Temple of Heaven in the background

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Day 3: Great Wall of China
We opted to do a DIY trip and away from the crowd of Badaling. We started early, relatively speaking, so we can head to Mutianyu and comeback before sunset.

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The Bird’s Nest in the backgound

The fact that there were so few other tourists there definitely added to its charm! After a fun-filled daytrip to the Great Wall, next stop was the Olympic Stadium, more popularly known as the Bird’s Nest, that was the venue of 2008’s summer games. Then off to Wangfujing Street Market to sample more Chinese food (or in this case, snacks)!

Day 4: Enroute to Xi’an from Beijing

We haven’t been inside the Forbidden Palace so this was our must-do for today before we leave for Xi’an. I was hoping to take a sleeper train from Beijing to Xi’an to save on hotel and train costs but Mike didn’t want to sleep on a train for 2 consecutive nights so we got on a high speed train so we can sleep on a proper bed. We were averaging 300km/hour on our effectively cutting the usual 12hour journey to almost 5hours! It was a comfortable journey with me sleeping half of it away -we ate on the other half. :D

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Day 5: Terra Cotta Army
Terra Cotta Warriors: check!
I’ve read about them in history books from when I was a little girl. Seeing our generation’s greatest architectural find was something I wouldn’t pass up! Even if that meant getting on a 4-hour bullet train ride from Beijing to Xi’an just to see them (and trying the sleeper train from Xi’an to Shanghai)!

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Day 6: Water village of Zhujiajiao

We only really had a full day in China’s biggest city. I should have visited its many beautiful sights but after seeing a picture of the country’s best preserved ancient water town (Zhujiajiao aka Pearl Stream) and I knew that it’s the place I would love to see most! Following online instructions, we still got a bit lost but everything worked out in the end after a young Chinese couple helped us find our way eventhough we couldn’t understand each other. :D My only regret was we couldn’t stay the night here – it’d have been amazing!

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Day 7: Enroute to Kyoto

Our last day in China was drizzly. We did get to see the Bund as it was just a few mins walk from where we stayed at. We wanted to ride the world’s fastest train enroute to the airport. There were lots of people with the same idea coz when we got to the platform, there were tour groups having their pictures taken.  It was a great end to an unforgettable trip ! :D

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I’d love to go back to see other parts of the country! <3

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DIY: Visiting the Terra Cotta Warriors

We included a visit to Xi’an for one goal and that is to see the terra cotta warriors! The greatest archeological find of our generation. They were discovered by some farmers who were trying to dig up a well back in the 1960s.

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The terracotta army in Pit 1

 

The Terracotta Army or the “Terracotta Warriors and Horses” is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife. -wikipedia

There are several options on how you go about seeing them. Joining a group tour or hiring your private guide would always be the more convenient way. I find them pricey though and not to my liking. Or you can do it on your own. This one would require some bits of research – which is maybe why you’re on this page; and asking around. I find this more my style as I’ll save some money (though not as much time) and I think it’s the more exciting way to go about doing things.

I’ve read that if one rode the high speed train to get to Xi’an, they’re entitled for a free shuttle ride straight to the site on the same day. But we arrived around 11pm and wanted to visit the next morning. So instead of hoping our tickets were still valid, we decided to just not do it. We then went to Xi’an Railway station the next day. On the eastern side of the square is a bus terminal. We found a very long queue and thought it’s the one leading to the famed warriors and we were right after double checking with those in charge of the line.

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Take bus 5(306), 7RMB, 1hr travel time, last stop: Museum of Xin Terra Cotta Warriors and Horse

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I’ll finally get to see the terracotta army! :D

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Entrance fee is 150RMB

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Pit 1

The sheer scale of this sculpture army makes it impressive. Also, no two warrior look the same. The museum is divided into 3 pit (excavation): Pit No. 1, No.2, and No.3. Pit 1 was the first to be opened to public visits. It is the largest amongst the 3 and is the most impressive too. This is the pit that you’d I thought to myself  “that’s what I’ve seen in print countless of times before!”

Some pictures of Pit 1:

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Pit 2 is said to be the most spectacular owing to more complex combat formation. Also, the units here are said to be more complete as compared to those in the other pits. That may be the case but unfortunately, I got sidetracked by a display in the corner where you can have pictures taken with the terracotta army. If you don’t want to shell out for those souvenir photos, you can opt to pay a minimal fee to be able to use your own camera instead. The bf laughingly remarked that I seemed to have been more excited with the photo-op session over seeing the terracotta army in the pits! hehe

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Pit 2

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Pit 3 though the tiniest is said to be the headquarter/ command centre of the army in the other pits. Unfortunately, most of the warriors here are endless which could be attributed to vandalism but it’s still a guess.

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Pit 3

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Pit 3

There’s also a museum there. From which we learned that the terracotta warriors were originally meant to be colourful! It’s just that time and natural elements eroded most of the colours away.

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The terracotta warriors were originally full of colours.

I would recommend for history buffs to see the terracotta warriors. However, I wish we had a full day and night to explore Xi’an too! Guess it’s another reason to go back then? :)

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