Tag Archives: Xian

Shaanxi Nanfang Hotel: Okay Hotel for the Budget-Minded Traveler

The hotel allowed us to have an early check-in, which is very nice of them, we checked-in by 10am. The rooms are nicely decorated, simple yet comfortable.

The windows are huge; the hotel rooms are clean, so we had no problem at all.

Stuff for Sale in the Hotel

There are a lot of items which can be found on the desk and on the sink but almost everything is for sale, so watch out for those things which has a price tag on them, they also have complimentary toiletries so don’t be fooled of getting those that have tags on them… the free items are those usually with the hotel logos.

The location is nice, easily accessible to the bell tower. So it is really in the city center

I'm trying to figure out what the food is....

As for the breakfast, if you are Chinese then the breakfast is good for you but if you are not, if it is not complimentary then ditch it…. the breakfast is a typical chinese buffet, (no bread even except for the Chinese bread (the one which is color white)… they don;t even serve noodles! for me, the taste is not good but maybe for Chinese people it would be satisfactory (I just observed on how they go back and forth to the buffet table)

As for the staff, they are quite helpful but only few knows english which is quite frustrating… however, our stay end up pretty well, this is not really a big deal for our group since we have a Chinese speaking guide with us.

Overall, our stay is good since we just used the hotel as a sleeping place….I will recommend it if you have a tour guide or group when coming to Xian, since the location is quite good, but if you are coming to Xian alone and wanted to go touring, it will be harder for you to communicate with the frontdesk staff (I’m just assuming that you don’t know any Chinese)…. but if you know Chinese pretty well, this place is really recommended for you and you can save money too!

This review is originally from my tripadvisor account but what I did is to add another commentary and pictures.

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Huaqing Hotsprings: A place where the Emperor once took a bath.

Huaqings Hotspring is our last and final stop during our 2 day Xian trip. Due to the unexpected intense heat that surrounded Xian that day, we almost decided to skip this attraction. The thing we didn’t know was that this place is an astonishing opportunity to see the extravagance of Emperors and their concubines.

It was during the Tang dynasty that this palace was created. Stating that this is a historical place is an understatement. It has 6,000 years of history wrapping each wall and every corner of this marvelous attraction.

Entrance of the Huaqing Hotspring

Upon entering the gates of this Huaqing Hotspring I found myself dumbfounded, I didn’t know that this is such a serene and picturesque place. I learned from my previous research that this was the bathing place of the emperors and their concubines but I didn’t imagine it to be such a grand and charming place. Now I’m murmuring to myself “I wanna be an Emperor of China!”

Near the entrance is a  man-made lake with floating water-lilies, while palace pavilions greet you with their usual lively colors. Walking further, you will find a white statue of a woman looking reserved yet exudes a beautiful vibe.The statue seems to invite you to dip your worn out feet in one of the bathing area of this wonderful place.

yang guifei
the statue of Yang Guifei

That statue depicts  one of the four most beautiful women in the Tang dynasty. She is Yang Guifei one of the concubines of the Emperor. She is the most loved concubine among them all.

the emperor's bathing area

Our tour guide brought us to three bathing areas. The first one was said to be where the Emperors dip their body in the naturally heated water. The second was said to be where the concubines have their skins rejuvenated and the last was where the officials nearest to the heart of the emperor enjoys the utmost treatment.

the concubines' pool
the pool for officials and head chef

One thing I noticed, was the three bathing areas are connected with each other, the water flows down to the Emperor’s down to the officials’ bathing area. So, whatever dirt was scrubbed down from the Emperor’s skin will be conferred to the other two bath areas… But before, it wasn’t a problem, since they believe that touching the Emperor is like touching God… so I think the officials and the concubines never complained on such kind of setting (because if they complain I think they will go directly to heaven… )

other view of the hot springs (in the right corner, people are drinking water from the hotspring since it is said to have healing powers)

This is one of the oldest Hot Springs in China and one of the revered beautiful places in the country. I think, this is one of the place which a person shouldn’t miss, especially if visiting Xian. It is said to be part of the 100 most beautiful gardens in China.

Moreover, it also gives you a glimpse to the history and the way of life of the emperor, empresses and the concubines.

My Mom and the beautiful Huaqing Palace

By the way, the lake transforms into a stage during a performance… I just forgot to take a close-up picture of it. I don’t know if this is the lake or other lakes in the area.

By the way, the Emperor who is very in love with Yang Gufei, took a bath here more than 30 times! 🙂

How to get here DIY? (acdg. to Travel China Guide)

  • Admission Fee: CNY 80  P560.00 $13 USD (Dec. 1 – the end of the next Feb.);
  •                              CNY 110  P770.00 $17 USD (Mar. 1 – Nov. 30)
  • Performance Fees : CNY 218-988 P1526-6916 $35-$160 (The performance of The   
  •                              Song of Unending Sorrow)
  • Opening Hours: 9:00 am – 5:00pm

How to get here:

  • From Xian,
    1. Take Tourism Bus No.5 (306), the special route bus from Railway Station to the Terracotta Warriors via Huaqingchi Station, at the East Square of Xian Railway Stationand get off at Huaqingchi Stop.
    Bus fare: CNY6
    Estimated Travel Time: 45mins.
  • 2. Bus 307 from the south gate of Tang Paradise to Huaqingchi Station.
    Bus fare: CNY 7
  • 3. Bus 914 and 915 also run to Huaqing Hot Springs and Terra Cotta Warrors, but they are not suggested to take.
    From Lintong, Take bus 5101 from Lintong Bus Station to Huaqingchi Stop.

Xian City Wall: A wall that reminds the ingenuity of the Chinese

During the time where the city of Xian was still the capital; the 1st Ming Emperor  created a big, massive wall which will help him fight against prodigious intruders. However, that isn’t the only trivia in the creation of this wall, but it is also for the protection of the power that the Emperor holds.

The Archer's Tower

One hermit advised the Emperor to build high walls if he wants to retain power, in which the Emperor dutifully followed.

The wall served as a good military defense system especially during those times when bows and arrows are one of the weapons.

In the picture above, it was said to be the archer’s lair, where the soldiers threw speeding bows and arrows to the enemy, and where piles of bows and other weapons were stored.

As a stratagem, the outside wall is surrounded by a deep moat. It will hold the enemy in getting near the walls. Moreover, the walls are thoroughly prepared to be one of the strongest and hard-to-breach walls during those times. Leaving the intruders’ to only have one choice, which is, to break through the main gate.

My Brother, the wall and the Tower; take note, he is standing in the outer wall

Another good defense strategy made was that the wall encircles the outside, then another wall in the inside. When the enemy got through the outside wall, they will be greeted by another wall full of archers. But, sometimes, what the Emperor’s soldiers do was to let them inside and then they close the main gate. Where the unknowing enemies will be greeted by archers and a battalion of soldiers. I t is a war strategy, it is a trap!

I, having watched a lot of Chinese period movies, (Red Cliff, Red Cliff 2, Three Brothers), I was amazed on how erudite the Chinese in terms of war strategies. The Chinese people during those times do not only attack but they plan their every move. Just like as depicted in Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

This place, the Xian City Wall, is one of the ingenious war defense systems I saw in my entire life. It was carefully planned and made for the protection of the city and for the protection of their Emperor. However, not long enough after the creation of this wall, the Emperor decided to transfer the city to Beijing.

Before transferring the ancient capital, the Emperor, also from an advice from a hermit, put some dragon-sons in the moat in order for his alleged “bad luck” not to follow him. Which the Emperor dutifully followed. These ancient dragon-sons were found on the moat. Today, these dragon-sons are displayed in one of the archer’s tower. You are also allowed to touch it for good luck.

Nowadays, where the city of Xian had expanded outside these walls, it is clear that this wall doesn’t serve anymore as a great bastion for the City of Xian however, this wall will still remain as a part of the ancient past which the Chinese remembers and will always cherish. And as tourism came by, this will serve as one of the great legacies that the history had given to the Chinese people.

I definitely recommend each and everyone of you who are coming to Xian to visit this place, it may only look like a park but imagining on how great a fortress it is, will definitely serve as a good experience.

How to Get here:

  • You can always ride the taxi, especially if your hotel is in the city center, it will only be a short-ride
OR BY BUS:
  • To the South Gate: Take bus no.6, 11, 12, 23, 46, 215, 239, 302, 600, 603, 608, 713, 910, K600, K618, or Wulong Special Line…and arrive at South Gate Station.
  • To the East Gate: Take bus no.8, 22, 27, 29, 33, 37, 43, 45, 102, 203, 218, 232, 235, 252, 300, 527, 602, 604, 714, or 903…and arrive at East Gate Station
  • To the North Gate: Take bus no.6, 26, 28, 33, 37, 39, 104, 107, 117, 205, 206, 208, 214, 216, 229, 236, 238, 310, 336, 506 or 511…and arrive at North Gate Station.
  • To the West Gate: Take bus no.4, 10, 15, 23, 31, 201, 205, 206, 215, 221, 222, 223, 300, 302, 407, 504, 611, 701 or K630…and arrive at West Gate Station.

  • ADMISSION FEE: CNY40, PHP280, 7USD
  •  OPENING HOURS: 
  •  South Gate:08:00-22:00 (April 1-October 31); 08:00-19:00 (November 1-March 31)
  • East/North/West Gate, Wenchang Gate,  Heping Gate:08:00-19:00 (May 1-October 31);  08:00-18:00 (Novermber 1-April 30)
  •  Shangde Gate, Little South Gate, Hanguang Gate:08:00-18:00 (January 1-December 31)
  • PERFORMANCES:
  • The Greeting and Entering Ceremony at the South Gate (Suspension Bridge Square): 09:30
  • The warrior formation performance at the enceinte of the South Gate: 10:30, 16:30

Tang Dynasty Show and Dumpling Banquet: a FULL-Filling Experience…

For our first night in Xian, we went to the Tang Dynasty and Dumpling Banquet. Our tour  guide coordinated everything during our travel in Xian, so we didn’t have any problem during our stay…

This show and banquet started since 1982 and had received recognition from UNESCO!!

This Tang Dynasty and Dumpling Banquet gives you a peek on the art, dances and music of the people during this period. It is a historic peek in the past life and the kind of living of the people during  those times. You will also learn how they depict love through their strokes and dances.

This show makes you travel in time while lounging yourself in the sweet smell of the dumplings 🙂

The Show

The gracefulness in every stroke made by the female dancers and the heart-warming music that surrounds you… is something that makes this experience… worthwhile…

Beautiful Strokes by the dancers

The show lasts for about 1 hour and then the dumpling banquet begins! The waitresses will serve you the dumplings and while waiting, they will play you a nice classical chinese music which will make your head turn and unknowingly you won’t mind about the dumplings anymore!

Wonderful Choreography and Lighting

Moreover, if you haven’t tried other similar cousins of the dumplings other than the more known beef, chicken or pork; then, visiting this place will make you learn how many  kinds of cousins that this tiny-yummy dumplings have.

And also, our tour guide said that the dumplings in Xian are the best! So, better yet eat your dumplings when you visit Xian.

The Dumpling Soup.... it's still being cooked... YUM!

During our visit, I think I ate 25 kinds of dumplings… at first I was so excited but after the 10th serving, I’m like “There’s more?” my tummy says “enough” but my mind says “More!”.  My mind wanna taste everything even though I’m already full. Tasting different kinds of those similar looking gooey stuff was really exciting and an unforgettable experience.

One of the dumplings served.. YUM!

But, mind you, I don’t know the name and forgot the tastes of those dumplings that I ate… Sorry! 🙂 but I can assure you that they don’t taste the same… some others you will like, while others you won’t. The tastes varies, depending on the kind of the dumpling.

For Dessert;
Another Yummy Food 🙂

And By the way after going here, I think it took me 7 months before I eat dumplings or dimsum again. It’s just like saying “I had enough!”

Overall, I think this is a good experience since you will not only see the beautiful traditional dances during the Tang dynasty but you will also be able to eat different kinds of dumplings!

For buying your entrance ticket you need to book the ticket in advance. The ticket with dumplings costs 370RMB, P2590, $60 per person, 220RMB, P1540, $35 USD for dance show only.

I just realized that the ticket fees are too expensive!!! I didn’t know about the prices since mine is part of a package tour. You can contact them through:

The Terracotta Warriors: An Army of A Dead King

During our 2nd day in Xian, we went to the Terracotta Army and Horses Museum.

The Terracotta Warriors of Emperor Qin Shi Huang

I think you are familiar with those action movies where people goes to the tomb and then  raid all of the jewelries or treasures inside;  and then suddenly, the statues which looks like human beings were awakened; then the people got scared and the warriors started to fight those tomb-raiders… Have you seen or watched this kind of situation? If yes, then, one of the most depicted “living” warriors are these set of man-made army in Xian, China.

Well, we traveled from Beijing to Xian to see this wonderful man-made creation. I really wanna see this because I always heard that the Qin Dynasty is one of the greatest and grandest dynasty in China. Moreover, as a moviegoer especially of Asian films I always heard of Qin Dynasty (The Myth portrayed by Jackie Chan etc.). I was enchanted by these movies and I wanna to see this in person.

The Terracotta warriors museum is a sight to behold! although majority of the collection has no heads or has broken pieces, it is still a beautiful and an education place to visit. Just always remember that there’s a 2000 year old history that wraps each and one of the terracotta bodies you will find there.

Terracotta warriors in Pit 1

This warriors remained unknown for humans for the past centuries and only until the 1970s that it was discovered. But, it wasn’t discovered by archaeologists and instead they were discovered by farmers who are digging for their water supply.

The funny part is the farmers ran away as soon as they saw the faces of these warriors. The farmers got scared; since during those times, the Chinese believed that any sculpture with a face of a human is considered evil and/or creations of the devil. And they also believed that once you saw this kind of sculpture, you will face death anytime after the encounter… That is why they hurriedly left and didn’t bother about it for sometime. Until one of the farmers who originally saw it, went to the government and showed what they discovered. And then, archaeologists and tourists alike became interested in this heritage left by China’s 1st dynasty.

There are 3 pits that have been discovered by the Archaeologist, and now, it is open to the public.

In the Pit 1 where a lot of these warriors can be seen is a wonderful sight since most of them are excavated; and there are a lot of warriors that are standing. And you can also see that the archeologists are doing their best to piece up the broken pile of these warriors. It is kind of long walk in this pit, but it is worth it.

In Pit 2 and Pit 3, you won’t see a lot, only some broken chariots or places where the chariots once stood. There are a lot of broken arms and body found on that pit.

Don’t expect to see 2000 warriors lining up to you when you get there. In Pit 2 and Pit 3 and some on Pit 1, other warriors are still unearthed because the archeologists says that if such will be done, the warriors will be damaged due to oxygen and such. So, most of the things you can see are earth and dust which is formed like huge anthills. Now, It all depends on your imagination to visualize what is beneath that surface.

Moreover, you will see only a few that are still standing (with their whole body), maybe 500 of them (this is a mere estimate). Almost all of the warriors were already damaged. But don’t worry the archeologists are doing their best to make them whole again.

What makes it more interesting is on how the warriors are sculpted…our tour guide David, told us that they are modeled from one and each of the soldiers during the Qin dynasty. They are modeled from real human beings. They are made in a process that they are all unique, no terracotta warriors are alike, they are all different.

They are made in order to guard the tomb of the emperor who had unified China for the very  first time (which, is Qin Shi Huang). That man is a great person although extravagant, just like the Empress Dowager Ci Xi 🙂

Well. What really scared me was the fact that there are still warriors with their original paint in them.  what I mean is that they are still well-preserved even after 20 centuries. Like the archer which is now inside a glass (it is also in the museum), has still its red paint on it. Please take note that these warriors are not plain brown when they were buried; they are painted with lively colors.

Can you see the red paint on the lower back corner of the warrior? Amazing Isn't it?
With the Terracotta General

Moreover, our tour guide said that the archeologists believe that there are more of them out there, and they are waiting to be discovered. Just like the Qin tomb (tomb of the great Qin Shi Huang) is still closed, and archaeologists are dying to find a way to open it.

CONCLUSION
1. Well, I say I can recommend you guys to come visit this place, especially if you are the history buff like me. But if you are going to this place without knowing what it is, or if you have folks that does not like history, or Children who are 2-4 years old. well, you better pass first and visit some other place in China. Since the place is still undergoing development, you might not know, that years from now, Emperor Qin’s tomb will be open to public and more of the warriors are unearthed or pieced back together.

2. But if you have the time and money to go here, then why not? This is a good experience since you will have a glimpse of a 2000 year old history. This is the real deal of 2000 years old history since the Great wall of China you see in Beijing is not. The Chinese claim that the Great Wall has 2000 years of history but it is not, It was made during the Ming dynasty, the real great wall which should be 2000 years old was the one built during the Qin dynasty which is already gone since it was just made of soil. The great wall you see now is still history but the terracotta warriors is an older history which is worth the visit

3. well I still recommend going to this place but if you don’t have money and time, you can visit it some other time, but if you are going to China for a long vacation, try this and it won’t disappoint you

TIPS:
1. Wear Comfortable shoes and clothes! You will do a lot of walking
2. There is a bus going to the warriors museum in front of the railway station, it is cheap. I think it travels every hour, it costs about 5-10USD.
3.There is this distance from the bus stop to the gate of the museum, you should walk since there is no other way. Bring with you a water jug or any water
4.You have a choice to go to the museum after you’ve reached the gate of the museum, it is either to walk or to ride the golf cart. The golf cart ride has a price but it is just less than 5USD as far as I remember
5. Go to Pit 3 first, then 2, then 1. Going to Pit 1 will just ruin your awe for the other Pits since pit 1 is the best among the three
6. Watch in the cinema theater which features the history of this warriors if you don’t have any idea what you are looking at
7. The food buffet there is nice, try it, but I don’t know about the price since mine is part of a package tour
8. ALSO, go early in the morning and weekdays and make sure it is not holiday so that there won’t be a lot of people around
9. Bring a camera, with lots of lots of batteries!
10. Make sure to have a good night sleep!
11. Visit the nearby areas, we also went to the hotspring of the emperor nearby (sorry, I forgot the name)
12. ENJOy!

WELL, this is all I can do for you, if you have questions you can contact me. Hope this helps!

Beijing to Xian: Train Experience Part 1: Buying the Tickets

For our 2nd night in Beijing, instead of sleeping in a hotel, we opted to ride the sleeper train going to Xian, China. Anyway, I wasn’t able to get pictures of the Beijing west station, so I grabbed some of them from the net–so, forgive me once again! 😦

BUYING THE TICKETS

Anyway, after a whole day touring the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace, our tour guide drop-us off the Beijing West train station. But before that I asked her to write the Chinese words “Please let us buy ticket going to Xian, a soft-sleeper for 4 persons”. If you are going to D-I-Y in buying train tickets, I really suggest you to put those words in Chinese…

We were dropped off in the 2nd level of the train station, which I later realized is the departure area. And take note, we still don’t have tickets since all the netizens out there says that the tickets can easily be bought in the train station, and reserving it online will cost much more money.

Beijing West Railway Station (photo from Baycrest Photos in Panoramio)

So, I don’t have the freaking idea where to buy tickets! I was so stressed because my family looks very tired already and I want them to rest. And since I was the coordinator of this trip, I should be held responsible. So, I tried asking the counters, which seems to be the ones where a lot of Chinese are lining up and buying tickets (take note, I’m still in the 2nd floor, I don’t know that there was a ground floor yet!); so, I also lined up and then I showed them the piece of paper and they waved their hands and said “Mei-yo” (forgive how I spell it) which I learned from some Taiwanese movies… that it means “No” or “None”. I was so shocked that I frowned out them and said “Wei Shi Ma” which means Why?.. Then they talked to me in Chinese and I don’t understand it anymore… the other one pointed her hands to her right which signaled that I should go there… and I’m like “where?” instead of going where she pointed me at,  I just went to my family, and I just tried to figure out the situation.

I also asked the policeman or security guard or whatever that is wearing blue there, but he also can’t speak English! For God’s sake, I was really appalled and just can’t believe what is happening.

My Phone which is searching for “How to Buy Tickets in Beijing west train station” was taking too long to load… and I know I’m already spending a lot of money for that. There is no wifi there, only my phone and my postpaid subscription in the Philippines. Anyway, since the internet is my friend when it comes to travel, I searched for an internet shop nearby and thank God I saw one! The internet shop is located near the stairs, and then I realized that there is somehow a “ground floor”. When I’m almost got inside the internet cafe, a Chinese man who looks so curious, made me think maybe he can help (although it can be dangerous at times); I then showed him what is written in the note, and he said “Ah! Ticket?!” and I said “Yes! Yes!” then he pointed me to go downstairs and I’m like hesitant to do so…. So, he escorted me down…. and pointing to the “Vast Ticket Station” and he also assisted me to go to the right line. I was really happy and thankful to him.

For the random man, who helped me… I’m really thankful for you! Whoever you are.. God Bless you!

Well, now I learned that the ticket buying counters of the train station is downstairs; so if ever the taxi dropped you off at the second floor or like a “departure hall” already, just go down, you can use the stairs at either side of the building (it is outside the building, no need to go in, and you will also not be able to go inside if you don’t have tickets). You will notice it is the ticket-buying counters if you see a large sign (just like in the airport where flights are written), and you can go inside without anyone asking for your ticket 🙂

Remember, no one speak clear english there, so foreigners like me, it will really be hard… but hope this few tips above will help you. Just let me repeat it:

  1.  The ticket counters are on the ground floor of the train station
  2. The departure halls are in the second floor of the station

Anyway, if you wanna reserve your tickets weeks before your trip, you can reserve in this website, but it will be much costlier than buying it on the station itself:

How to Get to the Railway Station *from Beijing-Travels
  • By subway: the under construction of subway line 9 will be connected with the station by 2012.
  • By Bus: No.9, 21, 40, 47, 50, 52, 54, 65, 67, 205, 209, 212, 301, 319, 320, 373, 374, 387, 414, 437, 609, 616, 661, 663, 673, 694, 695, 741, 802, 823, 937 (branch), 937 (expert), Te 2 to Beijing West Railway Station.
  • By taxi: The cost from midtown Beijing to Beijing west Railway Station is normally around 40CNY P280.00 or $7 USD depending on the type of taxis

Here are the train Schedule and Fares from (Beijing Travel), I also converted the price, so the price you see is in this following order CNY, PHP, USD)

Train No. Departs Arrives Seat Fares Hard Sleeper Fares Soft Sleeper
T151 1:59pm 3:42am
  • Y150,
  • P1050,
  • $24.50
  • Y256/265/274
  • P1792/1855/1918
  • $41.67/43.13/44.6
  • Y400/417
  • P2800/2919
  • $65.11/$67.88
T41* 3:52pm 5:37am
  • Y158
  • P1106
  • $25.72
  • Y270/281/290
  • P1890/1967/2030
  •  $44/46/47
  • Y 424/442
  • P2968/3094
  • $69/ $72
T55 4:43pm 6:12am
  • Y150
  • P1050
  • $25
  •  Y 256/265/274
  • P1792/1855/1918
  • $42/43.13/44.6
  • Y400/417
  • P2800/2919
  • $65.11/$67.88
T231 4:59pm 6:47am
  •  Y150
  • P1050
  • $25
  •    Y  256/265/274
  • P1792/1855/1918
  •    $42/43.13/44.6
  • Y400/417
  • P2800/2919
  • $65.11/$67.88
T75* 5:50pm 7:14am
  • Y150
  • P1050
  • $25
  • Y256/265/274
  • P1792/1855/1918
  •  $42/43.13/44.6
  • Y400/417
  • P2800/2919
  • $65.11/$67.88
T7 6:29pm 7:44am
  • Y158
  • P1106
  • $25.72
  • Y270/281/290
  • P1890/1967/2030
  • $44/46/47
  • Y 424/442
  • P2968/3094
  • $69/ $72
Z19* 7:57pm 7:58am -/-
  • Y270/281/290
  • P1890/1967/2030
  • $44/46/47
  •  Y 424/442
  • P2968/3094
  • $69/ $72
Z53* 8:03pm 8:12am
  • Y158
  • P1106
  • $25.72
  •  Y270/281/290
  • P1890/1967/2030
  • $44/46/47
  • Y 424/442
  • P2968/3094
  • $69/ $72
T43/T46* 8:30pm 9:00am
  • Y158
  • P1106
  • $25.72
  •  Y270/281/290
  • P1890/1967/2030
  • $44/46/47
  • Y 424/442
  • P2968/3094
  • $69/ $72
K1363 9:52pm Xi’an South

12:43pm

  • Y150
  • P1050
  • $25
  • Y256/265/274
  • P1792/1855/1918
  •  $42/43.13/44.6
  • Y400/417
  • P2800/2919
  • $65.11/$67.88