Xi'an scene

09:31, October 14, 2010      

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You can't beat Xi'an for old culture.Photos: Chen Dujuan
After queuing for hours, my boyfriend and I finally got train tickets to Xi'an, the ancient capital for 10 dynasties (some literature says more) in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province for the National Day holiday. We weren't the only ones who had that bright idea, but although it was crowded with many tourists from all around the country, Xi'an was a good place for a five-day excursion.

You can't beat Xi'an for old culture.Photos: Chen Dujuan

Back to the past

Xi'an has the most complete ancient wall, built more than 600 years ago during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) in the shape of a rectangle. It's over 3,000 meters long from north to south and over 2,000 meters from east to west. We bought our 40-yuan tickets and climbed onto the wall through Nanmen, the oldest and most complete extant city gate in China (built in 582), where we were told that the best way to see it all would be to take a bicycle. The cool-looking tandem bikes were really popular with parents and couples, so we wound up in another interminable queue. When we finally got to the front, we paid a 100 yuan deposit and 40 yuan for an hour's rental and set out under the glaring sun. We spent an hour and a half riding along the 12-meter-high wall, stopping sometimes to look out over the city and imagine what it used to look like and the wars that happened around it. Finally we returned to Nanmen, without even having realized what a workout we'd gotten.

The next morning we went to Huaqing hot spring (70 yuan admission) in Lintong, 30 kilometers east of Xi'an, a spot that's not to be missed even though it took more than an hour by bus to get there. The area is most famous for the love stories of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), Li Longji, and his favorite concubine Yang Yuhuan. Nowadays, only the empty hot spring pools and a statue of Yang are still there. Without the tour guide's explanation, it would have been difficult to imagine the history that happened there more than 1,200 years ago. We'd decided to leave, but then we caught sight of a group of the tall and handsome guys dressed in Tang-style warriors' clothes and slim and beautiful girls in Tang palace style clothes performing onstage, so we stayed and watched them act out the stories.
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