This city was once the ancient capital of China known then as Changan. It was this place where the first emperor Qin built up his empire. It is amazing to see a city built within a city, 36 km² bound by high walls and gates which also separated the two sides of the cities.
Xi’an is a considerable step up from Cunming, rather reassuring that we will find some solace during our short visit. It didn’t start well. Chinese people will never admit when they don’t know something and would prefer to give you a wrong answer than suffer the shame of not knowing the answer. For us this translated into 4 people giving us different directions to our hotel from the bus station. It took us over an hour to go what should have been less than a kilometre.
Xi’an is what we all imagine a Chinese city to be like – polluted, traffic jams, ugly concrete buildings, etc. The pollution here was not like anything we’d ever experienced before. Going outside made our eyes water, gave us a headache and made us short of breath, on top 20 fags each a day! They actually have black snow here in the winter.
We hadn’t come to Xi’an for the city, though. This was the base from which to visit the terracotta warriors, which we plan to visit tomorrow.
Probably the most interesting part of Xi’an city is the Muslin quarter. Xi’an has the largest Muslim population in China. We visited one of the mosques but found it hard to see the architectural differences between it and a Buddhist temple – except fore the Arabic writing.
Some photos of our walk about town including the famous Drum and Bell Towers. We’ll starting with a pic of the polluted sky – this is not mist it’s smog! One for the boys – pic 2 – the standard issue uniform for female police officers.