Warriors Come Out and Play

We took our second overnight train to  Xi’an (in its glory days, a millenia ago, known as Chang’an), the cradle of Ancient Chinese civilization, the starting point of the Silk Road.  

Its age is readily apparent, especially when driving into the city thru its ancient city walls, which were constructed in the 14th century during the Ming Dynasty.  

Xi'an City Wall

 

However, what the city is most known for, is located a bit of a drive to the east, and that is the Terracotta Warriors.  Qin Shi Huang was the first unifier of China, beginning the Qin Dynasty, and as such, he expected to not only rule in life, but in death.  Thus, the terracotta army, numbering in the thousands, is an army tasked to guard over his soul and protect him in his death, just as his army had protected him in his life.  

Massive dome enclosing and protecting Pit 1

 

The mausoleum took nearly 40 years to construct, and thus, was not completed when he died at the young age of 50.  It is said that “thousands of officials were killed and thousands of craftsmen were buried alive to keep the tomb a secret.”  Unsurprisingly, peasants and craftsmen revolted after, and went into the tombs, and did destroy quite a bit.  

Destroyed Warriors

 

The tomb was discovered in 1974, and much of the army is still unearthed.  This is due in part to the fact that have not yet  figured out how to expose the warriors without damaging them – the coloring most specifically.   That said, they are still working on the pits at night, piecing bits back together.  

Warriors pieced together

 

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Pandamonium

Though we came to China to immerse ourselves in the country’s rich history and culture, we cannot deny that the panda visit was a welcome perk. While many of our friends and family have had their eyes glaze over whilst we discussed the historical highlights of our trip, everyone seems to wake up when we talk about the pandas. As requested, we are posting more of our panda pictures.

We know how you feel, panda.

Panda Posse

Relishing the Relics

Ahh, a veritable Disneyland for history fans. China is about as ancient as they come. While in Chengdu, we marveled at the ubiquitous artifacts. 

Sanxingdui Museum – excavations show that early civilization in China was not limited to the Yellow River. The Shu people were established along the Yangtze River. 

Mask

 

Dujiangyan Irrigation Project.  Designed by Li Bing, the irrigation efforts channeled the Min River and gave lasting life to the Sichuan Province. An amazing feat of engineering and construction considering it dates back to 300 B.C. 

 

Grand Buddha – Buddhist monk Haitong started this giant tribute back in 713AD. The hope was that the Buddha would help to tame the rivers that ran in front of it. After over 90 years the project was completed. It was a thrill taking the boat ride to see the Buddha in all its grandeur. We then walked up to the top (taking the safer, less steep route) and got to see Buddha’s head up close. 

You buddha belive it!

Wishing Tree at Jinli Street

Wishing Tree

Blatantly touristy, but fun nonetheless. Jinli Street is a street market that harks back to early times in China. Much of what is sold in the market are products made by some of the more than fifty different minority groups in China. Here Jenn is standing next to a wish tree. The different colored silk pouches represent different types of wishes. You write your wish on a piece of paper and place it in the pouch. You then tie the wish to the tree. As much as she wanted to, Jenn resisted the temptation to wish for a decent pizza joint.

Jinli Street at Night

China’s Way With Words

Much as we like to jest, it’s not all Chinglish signage here. One of the stops along our trek was to Du Fu’s cottage. Du Fu was a famous poet-historian during the time of Tang Dynasty (around 700AD). It was a time when you couldn’t write directly about politics, or be critical of the emperor. Instead, Du Fu tried to draw attention to the ills of the time by weaving social commentary into his poetry. 

Du Fu Sculpture

 

Nice Digs

 

Diane at Du Fu's

Chow in Chengdu

Food in Sichuan is hot hot hot! One of the dishes we had here was a hot pot. You drop food in boiling hot water and spices, then pull it out when its done. Chopsticks only, no forks and knives!

Hot Pot in Chengdu

We held out as long as possible, but sometimes there is only so much rice and kung pao one can eat. While in Xian we happened by of all things… Papa Johns!!! As Chris likes to say, Jenn folded like Superman on laundry day.

We thank you Mr. Johns.

With an elaborate menu, sit down tables and a fireplace, it was the fanciest Papa Johns either of us had ever been to.

Chengdu

After a flight from Guilin we landed in Chengdu. Chengdu is a city of about 4 million. It is in the Sichuan province of China. There is a lot of history and culture to learn about in this area. First we attended two lecture seminars at the main university in Sichuan. The first professor taught us about the geography, history and economy of the Sichuan province. Afterwards, the second lecture gave us a great deal of information about current environmental issues in China and a field of study called LCA – Life Cycle Assessment. Scientists at the university are studying the environmental impact of different products made in China. They examine everything that taken from the environment as well as any pollutants that result from a product over the course of its life, from production to use to disposal. It was a fascinating presentation! China is currently industrializing at an unprecedented rate. Such drastic changes in manufacturing and land use have had a dramatic effect on China’s environment as well as the environment of neighboring countries.

Bicycles and electric-powered mopeds are among the primary forms of transportation in China. Accompanying China’s rapid industrialization is that of urbanization. One of the things Chengdu is doing to cope with the congestion and overcrowding is to build a metro subway.