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 Xi’an – by Alex

by on July 27, 2016

We were recently in Xi’an, China. It is the former capital of China when it was known as Chang’an. Xi’an is very close to the terra cotta soldiers. It started with a flight on China Southern. It was just a normal flight, except with a bad surprise: the Chinese government does not allow you to use cell phones on any flights in China, whether or not flight mode is enabled. Apparently the mode that, I assume, is appropriately titled flight mode is not allowed on flights. I could use my MacBook but Dad had to stick to airplane magazines that were only in Chinese. 

We got into the city and our hotel.  This hotel is operated by Wanda, a Chinese company that owns such brands as Odeon and AMC Movie Theaters, and the hotel…was very un-American. First off, what is the most important thing in any hotel? If you answered Wi-Fi, then you are correct. I hope you don’t need to use the internet there, but it is virtually non-existent. Not only did we not have access to blocked websites in China, but some non-blocked ones as well. BBC? No! Even though it is allowed by the Chinese government, which is rarer than you would think. On the topic of internet censorship, I have compiled a list of some popular sites that are blocked. Some of these are: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Periscope, NY Timed, Vivo, YouTube, CNN, ABC, NBC, GMAIL,, Office 365, etc. We have resorted to HBO as our main source of entertainment (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is on right now).

We spent our first day seeing the Terracotta Soldiers. The first thing we did was go to a Terracotta soldier factory. They made replicas from real terracotta from the mountain that the material for the original soldiers came from, with the same techniques

It was really cool to see the original techniques, and to get two small copies. One of them is an emperor, the other one a kneeling archer. 

We then went to the Terracotta soldier pits. There were tons of them, and they have only barely started excavation. There were four pits that the public could view, all of them not completely excavated. There were some display cases that had some soldiers that you could see up close with some color left. The terracotta soldiers were very impressive, but there were a ton of people there and it was very hot.

On our next day, we did a tour of Xi’an. Our first stop was the city wall. It is the best preserved city wall in China. There were some cool buildings there, and it was very impressive. We then went to a temple with a big pagoda. It was not very impressive.

A big thing in China is all the retired people get together in the morning in a public place and do their exercises.  There were a lot of people doing this by the temple. They all did different exercises… These ladies were dancing with umbrellas.

This man was writing Chinese poems with a brush and water, so they would only last a few minutes. It was fun to watch.

We did walk down a street and entered a grocery store. It had a sun-like image with the words “Save Money, Live Better” next to it. Yes, they have Walmart in China (and apparently it is very popular. The store is smaller than say, Mountain View, but it was a Walmart nevertheless.) Mom was in heaven.

After this, we went to another pagoda/temple that was also cool.  It was a tiny bit smaller and there were less people, and we got to go in.

After all of that, we went to an art gallery/museum and learned calligraphy. The art was made by students and was really cool. The calligraphy was extremely hard. Mine was extremely wide and not very tall. 

We had lunch at a fast food restaurant with amazing dumplings. Lastly, we went to the Muslim section of the town including the mosque and a very crowded shopping street.  Ireally enjoyed going there.  The mosque was very pretty.

This is what we did in Xi’an.


PS by David:

Let’s be blunt…. Despite population of 10 million and 2,000 years of history, there isn’t much to see in Xi’an once you’ve gone there for the Terracotta Warriors.   It was an OK day and Alex wrote it up nicely… Our guide Ivy did a decent job of finding interesting things that were a bit off the beaten path.  

But the photos don’t convey how steaming hot and sticky it was… here’s my shirt after taking off the backpack:

Photos also can’t convey the crowds and the smells in the street markets.

The warriors were of course stunning.  These horses were my favorite:


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  1. John Beaver permalink

    I would argue that a toilet, a shower, and a nice bed are more important than wi-fi in a hotel.

    • Lucy permalink

      ^^ same! I thought you were going to say you didn’t have your own bathroom and had to share one with the other people on the floor or something.

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