At the end of the first mini-semester of the fall, G-MEO (The Chengdu American Center for Study Abroad) took us on a cultural excursions to Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi province. Xi’an is one of the oldest cities and the oldest of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. Xi’an is also home to the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang and the starting point of the Silk Road.
- The trip to Xi’an was the first time I ever rode on a train. Compared with the flight back (which only took about 2 hours), the ride there on the train took about 16 hours. However, there was so much more to do on the train than on the flight since it contained more open space and freedom of movement.
- Throughout the course on the train, we were able to play many rounds of Uno, which is an American card game originally developed in 1971. The game was fun and at the same time created a competitive atmosphere across bunk beds.
- The Ming Dynasty City Wall was the first place we visited in Xi’an after arriving the following morning. The City Wall was based on the inner imperial palace during the Tang Dynasty and had been re-constructed during the early Ming Dynasty.
- On the same day we visited the Shaanxi History Museum, which contained many murals, pottery, and paintings, as well as gold and silver. While looking throughout the museum, I came across a wax figure that I almost thought was a real person. Sadly it didn’t move.
- In the afternoon, we were able to relax in the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and enjoy the largest fountain in Asia which was shooting water high up into the air.
- Sadly, we were not able to go up the Bell and Drum Tower due to time restrictions; however, we did end up spending a lot of time in the Muslim Quarter, which is right beside both towers.
- The Muslim Quarter, as the name implies, is the center of the Muslim community in Xi’an. The Quarter’s biggest attraction would be their food and souvenir market which covers several blocks.
- During the third day we saw the Terracotta Warriors, which are sculptures that depict the armies of Qin Shi Huang as a form of funerary art to protect the emperor in his afterlife. The sculptures include warriors, chariots and horses.
- At the end of the third day, we went to Hua Qing Palace where the statue of Yang Guifei is located. Yang Guifei (Imperial Consort Yang) birth name was Yang Yu Huan, one of the four beauties of Ancient China. Legend tells that she had a face that puts all flowers to shame.
- On the day before our flight back to Chengdu, we had a free activity day. Megan Crowley, Aurora Chinchay, Koltin Kislia, Solomon Crawford, Mackenzie Perry, Kasim Josey, and I decided to go back to the Muslim Quarter for our lunch before heading to the Daming Palace.
- Daming Palace was the imperial palace during the Tang Dynasty, where the Tang emperors had resided for more than 220 years.
The cultural excursion to Xi’an was really fun.