Tag Archives: xian

Last Day of CHIPSI

Our last exam is over! and it’s time to enjoy China free of the burden of academic study. The Intro to Chinese IP exam was an open book copy-and-paste exercise that took most of the two hours. I don’t know how anyone could do poorly (knock on wood). After the exam, the Tsinghua students took us out for Hot Pot – an assortment of raw meat, fish balls, and vegetables that you dump in a hot pot of liquid to boil before eating.

Later, we went to the CCTV tower, which is like a small and dirty version of the CN tower in Toronto and the only things we could see from the top floor was haze, clouds, and smog. Huuuuge waste of time.

The last hooray for the majority of the CHIPSI group was going out last night. We migrated via many taxis from the hotel bar to the park where we hoped to hear music, but just missed it, to a very laid back bar that had great pizza called, “The Tree,” located in the Sun Lan Tin area.

Most of the other students are leaving today or tomorrow to fly back to the U.S. I’m a little jealous, but I’m also looking forward to seeing Shanghai. I’ve heard many good things about how clean and modern it is. And it is supposed to be a “photographer’s dream.”

There are new pictures up on flickr. Click here or on the thumbnails to the right.

3D Chinese Scroll Painting

I’ve seen Chinese scroll art at most of the markets in Beijing and Xi’an. I’ve always thought it was kind of tacky, but would make a good gift – the kind of gift you give someone and they say thanks, but it’s kind-of an awkward moment. Then years later while visiting their house for fondue or something you go downstairs and see it hanging, tattered and abused, on their basement wall. It’s basement art – appropriately kitschy.

Terracotta Warriors

We saw the Terra-cotta Warriors today. They were discovered in 1974 (I think) by a farmer who was digging a well. He first found a terra-cotta piece, then an entire head and more pieces. When showing his pieces to the village elders, they told him to keep it quiet so as not to upset the spirits. The farmer was brave and did show the pieces to the public. And what came of it?

He got 20 RMB, which amounts to about three U.S. dollars, 8,000 more terra-cotta warriors were unearthed, and his farm became a massive tourist destination.

I’ve been told that the farmer makes a good living signing autographs now, though the entire farmer story could be a tour guide ruse.

We also visited a tourist trap Terra-cotta Warriors factory and some Hot Springs used by an Emperor and his famous concubine.

Click here for pictures or click on the thumbnails to the right.

Xi’an Info From Our Bus Ride

After getting off the overnight train, we were greeted with a nice long walk on muddy pavement to the bus that would take us to the hotel. On the bus, Mary (a tour guide in training) gave us a rundown on what Xi’an is all about. Here’s was I can remember:

Translated, Xi’an means “West Peace.” It is known as the place in China that you go to study 3000 years of Chinese history, as it was once the capital city before Beijing. Beijing is where you go to study 1000 years of history, and Shanghai 400 years of history.

There are mountains on three sides of Xi’an, so it is often foggy here. This was both misleading and disappointing when we got off the train. After spending a week in Beijing, which seems to be the pollution capital of the world, I was looking forward to clear skies. Not yet, I guess. Maybe tomorrow. Xi’an is located in the center of China and is considered a very strategic location – or at least it was when people fought on horses.

The original city is surrounded by a large wall. Long ago, a drum would sound upon the opening and closing of the city’s walls to alert the warriors and other dwellers that they better get back or risk being stuck outside the wall all night. (Our hotel is outside the wall… hmmm.) Also, buildings inside the wall must be shorter than it so that you can see the clock-tower at all times. (I haven’t been over there yet, so don’t have a good idea of why this matters.)

Xi’an is known for its mix of traditional and modern ways – E.g. – inside the wall versus outside the wall. The people are very emotional, laid back, and enjoy their city. Mary also said they can be lazy, and cited their dining habits as evidence. Supposedly, if they’re feeling especially lazy, they’ll just put chili sauce on bread and eat it. (Sounds good to me.)

Xi’an is known for it’s dumplings and some kind of soup I didn’t catch the name of. The bordering provinces specialize, respectively, in spicy food and sour food. So, the Xi’an cuisine is spicy and sour. Believe it or not, rice isn’t terribly popular here. They’re in the “Wheat Belt,” and grow wheat from October to June; corn from June to October.

Mary claimed several firsts for Xi’an such as color TV, airplanes, and satellites. I’m a bit skeptical on this information, and assume she means Chinese firsts and not world firsts. I could be mistaken.

There is a large Muslim population here.

Squatting is popular. This was random. Overall, squatting seems more popular in China than in America. It’s somewhat awkward because when you see people squatting you can’t help but think of the toilets here, which require you to perform a difficult squat-n-hover maneuver (that I have yet to try). The origin of the squatting goes back to the soldiers. It was unsafe for them to remove their armor while on duty, so they would often squat to rest.

So, without really going outside that is what I’ve learned about Xi’an. More to come.