Xi’an is one of China’s oldest cities and was our first stop in mainland China following Tibet. Here we were given our first taste of Chinese culture and our time here will be remembered for three things.
The Terrocotta Warriors
Xi’an is home to the great Terracotta Warriors. The army of 8,000 warriors was discovered underground in 1974 after nearly 2,000 years of going untouched. They were built under the Chinese emperor in 220 B.C. to defend him in the afterlife. Aside from the size of the army, what makes the discovery so incredible is the level of craftsmanship that went into each one. No two are the same with everything down to their facial structure, attire and hairstyle differing. Truly a sight to see.
Biking the Great City Walls
As one of China’s oldest cities, Xi’an is also home to one of the oldest and best-preserved Chinese city walls. At 8.5 miles it’s one of the oldest pieces of architecture to survive China’s history. Standing 40 feet tall, the wall still has strong presence over the city today and continues to be used regularly by its residents. Over a million people pass through the wall’s gates each day. We decided to tackle the wall on bicycles. No ordinary bike would do – a tandem bike it would be. Cycling the old city wall at sunset lined with red lanterns, leafy trees and classic Chinese pagodas, was a fantastic way to experience the city.
During our month in China, we sampled a lot of street food, but nothing rivaled our culinary adventures in Xi’an. We were staying right in the heart of the Muslim Quarter, where you can find a great variety of exotic foods. This area has been home to Chinese Muslims for over 1,000 years so the food traditions here are strong and something the people take seriously. From the multitude of ka-bobs to the street snacks and desserts, the selection is unique and various. In the twisting alleyways of the tree-lined neighborhood, we feasted on homemade noodles, fresh-baked breads, candied dates and even rice lollipops topped with crushed nuts and molasses. Check out more video highlights here.