Friday, April 12, 2013
WE WALKED, WE CLIMBED AND WE BIKED...........
And I am officially VERY tired!
We had a nice breakfast this morning at our hotel, and left here about 10 a.m. We walked a few blocks to the bus stop, where we caught the #609 bus to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. The nice lady at hotel reception assured us there would be a sign in the bus to let us know when to get off. Guess what--no sign or reader board to announce the stops! Hmmm--I had visions of riding the bus in an endless loop, not knowing where to get off! But we managed to follow our route on our city map, and eventually we spotted the pagoda.
The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is a Buddhist pagoda built in 652 during the Tang Dynasty. It originally had only 5 stories, but it was rebuilt in 704 AD and two additional levels were added. The exterior brick facade was renovated during the Ming Dynasty, in the mid 1500’s.
The pagoda is surrounded by a pretty park with interesting statues and lovely gardens. We walked through the park on our way to the pagoda, enjoying the pretty scenery.
Entrance to the park
in the park
Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Cute little girl in the park
Soon we came to the entrance, bought our tickets and walked through the grounds of the surrounding monastery. We looked in several halls in the adjacent buildings, and then we went on to the pagoda. Did we climb it? Oh, yes--all the way to the top!
Here we are--in front of the Pagoda's Bell:
Roof detail, Pagoda
Looking up at the Pagoda, from the base
Pretty garden Pagoda
Buddhist nuns and monks coming out of the Pagoda
Old stone entrance to the Pagoda
Buddhist relic inside the Pagoda
Buddhist relic, level 5
Looking down the staircase
There were nice views over the city from each of the 7 levels, and the view from the top was really pretty. After admiring the views and resting for a few minutes we walked back down all those steps and out into the sunshine. We are loving the sunny and warm weather here--much better than Hong Kong!
Statue of a Monk in the park near the Pagoda
Seen on our way to lunch--big load!
On the street--bike vendor:
After that climb we were definitely ready for some lunch, so we walked out of the park and down the street a couple of blocks looking for a nice place for lunch. We found Dairy Queen, KFC and Subway nearby--no thanks! Eventually we found a very nice upstairs restaurant, and sat down to look at the menu. Ordering lunch was interesting--no English on the menu, and no English spoken by the staff. We used the point and guess method, and ended up with a delicious lunch, even if it wasn’t exactly what we thought we were ordering!
Next on our day’s itinerary was a visit to the ancient city wall of Xi’an. It was way too far to walk, and we weren’t sure where to get the bus, so we hopped in a taxi for a quick 10 minute ride to the South Gate.
Entrance to the wall, South Gate:
Through the entrance tunnel:
This ancient city wall is one of the oldest and best preserved city walls in China. The very first city wall of Xi’an was built during the Tang Dynasty in about 907 AD. The wall that stands today was built during the early Ming Dynasty, about 1370. It is about 8 1/2 miles in circumference, about 39 feet high and measures 49 to 59 feet thick at the base. There is a deep moat (now dry) surrounding the wall. There are several pretty gate towers along the wall, and a new addition to the wall are the dragon themed light posts every few feet along the entire wall.
Entrance area inside the wall:
Guard building on the wall:
Looking down the wall:
There is a bike rental station at the South Gate, and that’s right where we headed first! We picked out our bikes, and off we went! It was a lovely ride around the wall with interesting views both inside the wall and out. We stopped several times to take pictures, look at the petty gate towers, and rest for a quick moment and have a drink of water. It was warm and sunny today! One thing I especially enjoyed was the sweet fragrance of blooming hawthorne trees that are planted along the wall--what a wonderful added bonus!
Biking the wall:
David on the wall:
Here we are:
After we turned our bikes in we sat at a small snack station on top of the wall, rested my weary legs and had a cold drink. We climbed down the steps of the wall, and made our way back to our hotel. We relaxed for a while, then went back out for a stroll up the street to a new area. It was an older area that is now full of bars, very interesting and lively but no place we’d want to eat dinner.
Entrance to a nice neighborhood near our hotel:
Pretty young lady hostess in front of a restaurant
Fruit seller across the street. She was NOT happy about having her picture take, and threw a piece of fruit across the street at us!
Pretty street scene:
We decided to have dinner at the very nice restaurant in our hotel. We’d read some glowing reviews about the food and we weren’t disappointed. It was packed when we walked in at 7:30 and we waited a few minutes for a table. We looked over the very interesting menu--so many choices! I was tempted by the fried duck tongue, but couldn’t quite go there! We started with a small serving of glazed roast pork--this was probably the most delicious dish we’ve had, the flavor was incredible! Next was a cold spinach dish that was very tasty, and we also had some soy stir fried noodles. Our final dish was a Hunan dry fried beef with garlic and chilies. I think they should have called this dish Hunan CHILIES with beef and garlic! Wow--it was soooo spicy that neither one of us could eat it! What we thought were green veggies in the picture were actually peppers, and there were also lots of those super hot red chilies. Even though we were not able to eat the Hunan beef dish, we still had plenty to eat and really enjoyed our dinner--I think we’ll eat there tomorrow night, too!
Cold spinach with nuts and beans--very good.
VERY Spicy pork--too hot for us!
After our very busy day it was early to bed for us. Tomorrow is our last day in Xi’an, we have really enjoyed this very interesting city.
Saturday in Xi’an: Nothing specific planned other than to wander and explore a different area inside the wall, but I’m sure we’ll find something new and interesting!
I think I would have opted for subway, lol. Looking forward to seeing and hearing about Pingyao...