Imperial China, The Yangtze River & Tibet
May, 2007 an OAT Tour

Imperial China - Xi'an, The First Imperial City

OVERVIEW: In 1066 BC the Zhou dynasty established its capital near Xi'an. 850 years later China was unified by its first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi and Xi'an became the first Imperial city. Today Xi'an is most known for the Terra cotta Army at the tomb of Qin Shi which were discovered by peasants digging a well in 1974. Of course there is much more history and many other exotic things to see.

Xi'an served as a capital to 11 dynasties over a period of 4,000 years. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 it was the largest city in the world. Its location at the eastern end of the Silk Road turned it into a great metropolis. The presence of foreign merchants and many religious faiths ultimately influenced all of China. The silk road fell into disuse in the 15th century with the advent of large ships which could carry more goods at a cheaper cost.

Today the city is a cultural and intellectual capital boasting eleven universities. The city is laid out in a symmetrical grid design which is a model for modern city design.

Jump Station

[Index of All Web Pages]

[Our Hotel in Xi'an]    [The Imperial Walled City]    [The City Market]

[The Shaanxi History Museum]      [Evening Entertainment]    [The Great Goose Pagoda]

[The Herbal Market]      [Imperial Black Lacquer Furniture]

[Imperial China - The Terracotta Warriors]

[A Country School and Peasant Village]

Our Hotel in Xi'an

Our hotels throughout China were really first class, comfortable, and centrally located. Just to make sure we didn't loose track of what was happening in the world - ignoring why we had come to China in the first place - each room had cable TV which always had one channel for English speaking BBC News. No matter where we were it safe to walk the streets at night. China is really a wonderful place to visit.

Our hotel in Xi'an      Lobby of our hotel

A demonstration of Tai chi, a favorite morning exercise      Everyone gets to follow the Master
Its a lot like Yoga - Fran gets a pointer on the correct posture      Each evening we are welcomed back to music in the lobby

The Imperial Walled City

Xi'an's imperial walls are still intact forming a 9 mile long rectangle around the city. They were built on the foundations of the Tang imperial palace in 1370. The walls are 39 feet high and 59 feet thick at the base. The Drum Tower was used to communicate to the garrison.

Imperial city walls surrounded by a moat      Impressive fortifications.

      The main gate to the walled city.

Weapon of War     

An open market outside the walls

The Market

Like most Chinese cities Xi'an is very modern with new buildings everywhere. Our joy, however, was being able to walk around the neighborhoods of the old city where we observed the day to day activities of the Chinese people. Taking pictures of people engaged in their daily activities was never a problem. Unlike the Moslems in the middle east, the Chinese enjoyed their foreign visitors.

A favorate form of transportation.      School girls participate in an exercise class

      Tea time in the market

Chinese potty training - split pants, no diapers.      Buildings in modern Xi'an

Open street markets exist in every Chinese city.      How about a small snack?

China's equivalent of a fast food restaurant      Hot food cooked to order.

Not Chop Suey Chow Main as we know it.      Fresh vegitables make great pictures.

Flowers in the park adjacent to the Drum Tower


The Shaanxi History Museum

China boasts the oldest civilization in the world. They invented gunpowder (fireworks), writing, ink, and the moveable press long before they were known in the west. This museum contains over 370,000 relics from the Shaanxi civilization going back to prehistoric times. The Museum presented us with our first views of the famed terra cotta warriors found near Emperor Qin Shi's tomb.

Walkway to the Museum      Bronze chariot from Qin Shi Huangdi's Tomb

Officers rode in chariots      Each warrior's face was different; probably modeled from the thousands of workmen who built the tomb

Our first view of genuine Terra cotta warriors from the tomb of Qin Shi      Beautiful Tang Dynasty Agate Cup

Evening Entertainment

Being fed was never a problem in China. All meals were served at tables of eight and food was placed on a lazy susan so it could be made available to everyone at the table. Lots of vegetables, chicken, and some beef and pork. In every city we were treated to the cuisine of that locality. In Xi'an we we were taken out to a Mongolian Hot Pot dinner, a traditional group meal in the Mongolian city. After dinner we were treated to a show of local dancing and as we walked back to our hotel we stopped off to view the water show outside the Great Wild Goose Pagoda.

A mongolian hot pot dinner.      After dinner we are treated to an ethnic show.

Evening entertainment after Mongolian dinner      The Wild Goose Pagoda

Water show set to music      Statue of Confucius teaching a student.

Wall surronding the Great Goose Pagoda decorated with stories of Buddha      Close up of the low relief carving of Buddha

Great Goose Pagoda

The Big Wild Goose Pagoda was built for a monk in 652 AD to house the sutras he brought back from India. He spent the remainder of his life translating the sutras which aided the spread of the seventh century to house Buddhist scriptures. At our age we all declined the opportunity to climb to the top of the pagoda for a view of the city.

The spread of Buddhism

Statue of Buddha outside the Temple grounds      Ornate roof lines

Incense burner     

      A monk strolls through the grounds

Shrine to Buddha      Floral guardens for meditation

      A scene from Buddha's life made with jade

The Herbal Market

Herbal medicine is widely practiced in China. There is a herb for almost every ailment with recipes on how to grind up the herb and mix it with boiling water or tea. The herbs were not just plants but dried snake, bats, lizards, tortes shells, centipedes, and parts of animals you don't want to talk about.

On their way to the Herbal Market      Recycling cardboard

Herbs of all kinds available for cooking and to aid the sick      Herbal medicines - there are actually recipies on how much to gind up for your tea for each ailment you wish to cure

Lizard, snake, toads, tortus shells, anything you need      Dried snakes ground up in your tea is bound to help the aches and pains

You wouldn't believe what some of these herbs are.      Something to cure any ailment

Stripping legs off the centipede before they are bundled.      Honest weight.

Imperial Furniture - Black Lacquer

Chinese black lacquer furniture has one enduring feature - it goes with any household decor. A single piece in any room of your house looks wonderful. It was the furniture of the Emperors and was built to last. Layers of wood with the grain running in different directions makes it strong. Painted black and then covered with lacquer makes it impervious to water and rays of the sun. Hand painted decorations with jade inlaid makes the final piece just lovely. How do you maintain it? A secret we learned: they make a dough of flour and oil (not water) and roll it across the surface.

Furniture of the Emperor      We are given an explaination of furniture construction

Hand painted      Jade flowers and birds are inlayed as decorations

Polish with simple formula: flour and oil      Greeted by the Two Generals as we enter the showroom

A new fondu table with stools.      Too heavy to lift

Index to all China 2007 Advantures:

The following pages are still under construction
so be patient and come back to watch its growth.

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This page was created by Bob "Belli" Frazee

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If you have any questions, or corrections, just write to Belli

This page was created by Bob "Belli" Frazee

Bob at Grand Tetons, 2015
Belli at the Grand Titons, June 2015

Return to Belli's Home Page

If you have any questions, or corrections, just write to Belli

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