We took our first bullet train in China! We went from Beijing to Xi’an, which took us into different territories of China on a 6 hour train ride. We almost reached 300 km/hr which was also exciting! We really loved how easy the train was, and how easy the metro in Xi’an was too.
Once we got to Xi’an we checked into the hostel and got busy siteseeing. The first stop was Xi’an Beilin Museum. The museum is on a former site of Confucian Temple. The parts of the temple that remain are from the Ming and Qing Dynasties which include an arch, pan pool and Ji Gate.
It also many religious stone sculptures of Buddha. The city became a mostly Buddhist city during the Eastern Han Dynasty, but built most of its temples and statues during the Northern Wei to Tang Dynasties. We thought that the detail in the sculptures was quite remarkable and we (Megan and Chris) commented on how Indian some of the sculptures appeared. Sculpture of Trailokyavijaya, Tang Dynasty:
Next we found the reason that we wanted to find this museum: Forest of Stone Steles. This exhibit boast being the oldest world renowned stone library with over 4,000 pieces on display. There were a lot of steles and the exhibit had 7 rooms in which they were all displayed. There was not a lot of English to help us understand the importance of these items, which we found frustrating. However, we all enjoyed seeing the diversity of these stones and the stunning calligraphy carved into them. How hard would it have been to carve calligraphy in to stone?!?
Daoist Diagrams of the True Forms of the Five Sacred Mountains (Qing Dynasty, 1682):
Index of Chinese Character Radicals in Seal Characters (Northern Song, 999; Radicals are parts of chinese characters that modify the base strokes; seal characters are a esoteric script used for personal and official seals):
On our way to see the mausoleum stone sculptures we found two areas filled with old stone hitching post. This area had very little information but it was still Megan’s and Katie’s favorite part of this museum. We enjoyed taking silly selfies with the different characters on top of the post.
The mausoleum stone sculptures were sculptures all found in the shaanxi territory from the Han and Tang Dynasty. They were mostly of animals but had a distinctive style to them. There was even a rhinoceros knowns as The Stone Rhinoceros of Xi’an (Tang Dynasty, 635. 10 tons, originally on Emperor Gao Zu’s tomb).
After the museum we walked along The Xi’an City Wall for a bit. It was built in 1370 although most of the wall has been either restored or rebuilt. It is an impressive 12 meter wall with a dry moat.
We started heading into the center of the city and discovered the Bell Tower. This impressive and beautiful tower used to house a large Bell that was rung every day at dawn.
A few short blocks and we saw The Drum Tower which was known for marking night fall but my drum beats. We could see the large drums but never had the pleasure of hearing them. It was surrounded by birds.
We then ate street food and enjoyed the hectic Muslim Quarter. This is directly behind the Drum Tower and has been the home of Chinese muslims for centuries. It is filled with bright light, noise, tourist shops and food stands. We ate fried banana, meat on a stick, fresh jackfruit and rolled ice cream.