• Arriving in Xi'an by overnight train from Tai'an (Taishan)
    This is Ludao Binguan (#80-West 8th Street, Xi'an) just 100m away from the Xi'an train station. Shuttle but to the airport leaves from the spot half-way between the train station and this hostel.
  • Dorm room in Ludao Binguan.
    This hostel has very good location (proximity to the train station, long distance bus station and the airport shuttle bus stop) however the hostel doesn't have lockers, has only one shower cabin and 2 toilets (one was clogged) on the floor with at least 30-40 beds.
  • This little pagoda is NOT the Little Goose Pagoda (Xiaoyan Ta)
    Little Goose Pagoda is bigger than Big Goose Pagoda - go figure! This pagoda was built in 709AD and has survived over 70 earthquakes (which reduced it from 15 to 13 tiers). It's over 40m high.
  • Bell Tower (Zhong Lou)
    Built in 1384, repaired and rebuilt in 1740; ancient musical instruments are on the second floor, calligraphy scroll paintings on the third floor. No, this picture has not been modified in Photoshop - this white haze that you see in the background is pollution. The pollution in Xi'an was really bad, the worst I've seen in China so far.
  • Leaving the city wall (chengqiang) area of the city through the South Gate
    As usual, first thing after arriving and checking into hostel I went to CITS to purchase an airfare ticker from Xi'an to Shanghai. Once I know my departure date and time I can easily plan the time in between.
  • Palace of the Eight Immortals (Baxian An)
    Located in a shabby area just outside of the East gate this active Daoist temple (home to over 100 monks and nuns) is the only Daoist temple in Xi'an.
  • Yuxian Bridge and its 'lucky and peaceful bell'
    According to the legend if you hit this bell with a coin you will have a special relationship with Daoism and will always be lucky and peaceful. After at least 10 attempts I could not hit the bell, the bell was too small and coins too light, I should have thrown all ten coins at once :)
  • Incense burner thing
    In order to get to the Temple of Eight Immortals just leave the city wall through the East Gate and follow the street that runs east directly from the East Gate.
  • One of the Daoist deities
    Some if not most of the deities have very angry faces, I'm not quite sure why...
  • Trigrams of Yi Jing engraved into the railing on this well
    This temple has history of over 1000 years. Yi Jing predates Daoism however the main principles of Yi Jing were adopted by Daoist philosophers from the very beginning of Daoism as organized system of thought and practice.
  • Ba Gua or Eight Symbols
    These eight so called trigrams come directly from Yi Jing (I Ching) and represent eight 'faces' of the world where we live. These eight trigrams combined with each other make up the 64 hexagrams of Yi Jing.
  • Best time to visit Temple of the Eight Immortals...
    is on the 1st and 15th day of each lunar month, at dusk, when the popular religious festival is held. Antique market takes place just outside of the temple main entrance every Wednesday and Sunday (however vendors are there other days too, maybe just not as many). I bought a beautiful jade seal (uncarved) for only Y50 (neither me nor the vendor were aware it was jade).
  • The second one of the four incense burning tripods
    Please notice the ornaments on the upper part of the tripod...
  • Chinese calligraphy at it's best
    This gentleman (one of the Daoist monks at the temple) was so kind and painted this wonderful piece of art and gave it to me as a gift (I was passing by the room where he and his assistant were practicing the art of calligraphy, I asked if I could watch him painting, he agreed, they gave me some fruit and this masterpiece before I left). The meaning of the sentence is this: If you meet a person who shares your outlook on life (even if that person is on the other end of the world), then the whole world is like your neighbourhood.
  • Terracotta Warriors on the production line
    I signed up for a tour to the site of the Army of Terracotta Warriors and like with all organized tours, before you get to the main site you have to visit a jade factory, silk factory and in this case a factory which produces replicas of Terracotta Warriors.
  • Then the museum...
    We also visited one of the museums on the way to the Terracotta Army which is 28km east of Xi'an. You can take bus #306 from the car park on the east side of the Xi'an train station, and get there in one hour avoiding the stops along the way.
  • Old coins at the museum
    I believe these are authentic coins whereas you can buy fake coins practically on every corner in most cities in China. They look like real Qing dynasty coins but most of them are fake.
  • Jade factory boat
    So far each jade factory I saw has one of these big boats made of jade, prominently displayed in the main hall...
  • Huaqing Hot Springs
    ...was the last stop before we reached Terracotta Army site. These hot springs date back 2000 years (sometimes it seems in China only MacDonald's doesn't have 2000 years old history!). The first Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang named this area 'Hot Spring of Lishan Mountain' and many emperors after him had good time at this place.
  • Tomb of Qin Shi Huang - the first Chinese Emperor
    This the place where the first emperor of China was buried; his Terracotta Army is 1.5 kilometers away. The whole area is actually his tomb because he began construction of the tomb practically as soon as he took over the throne (when he was 9).
  • Tomb of Qin Shi Huang - the first Chinese Emperor
    Seven hundred thousand conscripts built the tomb, many of them buried alive with Qin Shi Huang. Large mound in the background is believed to be built just above the place where Qin Shi Huang's remains were placed.
  • Tomb of Qin Shi Huang - the first Chinese Emperor
    The steps that lead to the top of the mound can be slippery! The actual tomb of Qin Shi Huang has not been excavated and the area of 200 square km which covers the underground palace is said to be booby-trapped.
  • View from the top of the tomb
    According to Sima Qian, first Chinese historian, he wrote in his 'Historical Records' (written 100 years after the tomb was finished, approx. 2nd century BC) it took 36 years to build an imperial city below the ground. Archeological work in the surrounding area revealed the inner and outer walls, ten gates and four watchtowers.
  • So, what happened with the empress?
    Sounds like a marital dispute...
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