Xi’an is about a 2-hour flight west of Shanghai. It was the capital of China on numerous occasions in the past and is now a tourist attraction principally due to The Terracotta Warriors being discovered there in 1974. These sculptures depict the armies of the first Emperor of China and were constructed to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
I was half expecting to be disappointed but as I stood looking over the immense site I was left in awe as I tried to begin to imagine it’s construction – which took place over 2000 years ago and involved over 700,000 people.
Equally impressive was the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi which was built a little later during a period of ‘nonaction’ or ‘noninterference’ and -unlike the armed warriors – these statues were much smaller and depicted eunuchs, mistresses and domesticated animals.
The Drum Tower in the center of town was impressive by day and night and the old center was surrounded by a massive wall (one of the few in China that is still standing).
Perhaps my favorite thing about Xi’an was the extensive Muslim quarter which offered some delicious specialties. The people in this quarter originate from the north-west of China in a region known as Xinjiang which is populated by a turkic ethnic group known as uyghur. This ethnic minority has been in the news recently as members are suspected of committing the horrific terrorist attacks in Beijing and Kunming. They are angry at the Chinese government for repressing their culture.
Hand-pulled noodles/ biang biang noodles are a specialty from this region which every member of the family adored. We also liked the cold sesame noodles (majiang liangpi) and the yangrou paomo – flat bread torn into a bowl and covered with broth and mutton.
Unlike the rest of China, no pork to be found here…. just lots of lamb.
Upon our return our little 3-year-old turning 4 couldn’t decide whether he wanted a dragon, monster or dinosaur party, so I chose the easiest option! 4 friends from his former school and 4 from his new school ate dinosaur eggs (quail eggs and coated peanuts) trees (broccoli), green slime (jelly) and did some activities such as dinosaur egg and spoon races, decorating dinosaur cut-outs and….
… melting ice in which little dinosaurs had been ‘trapped’. A fun way to complete the week-long vacation.