Day 7 Banpo, Qin Mausoleum, Theatre
Full day today on a guided tour of Xi'an. My throat/lungs actually stopped acting up past this morning. I guess the cough must've been due to the shock of the sudden arrival to this environment, and my system just needed some time to adapt. But just in case, I'm glad I packed a bag of extra strength Halls with me.
It seems we're starting off on the first day in a sort of chronological order. First destination today was to the site of the ancient village of Banpo, which dates back over 6000-7000 years ago to pre-history. Short of seeing the neanderthal caves in Europe or Africa, this is probably the oldest artifacts of human history that I'm likely ever going to see. It's interesting to learn that the society of those days were matriarchal. Since there was no controls over who slept with who, most people only knew who their mothers were, but not the fathers, thus family was defined by the mothers. Pity that patriarchy eventually took over by the Shang/Zhou/etc. :P
Next stop was the Qinshihuang Mausoleum, where they show off all the terra cotta soldiers (and horses and other food animals). It's much bigger than I imagined, and yes, it was impressive. One of the two complete bronze chariots there was actually a replica, with the original having been shipped to the China pavilion at the Shanghai Expo - which I'd already seen. :) The rest were the usual terra cotta soldiers, the clay horses for the cavalry, and the ox/sheep/goat/dog/pig/chicken food animals. Gotta say, that emperor sure knew how to go out with style.
Dinner was arranged at the Xi'an grand theater (or something like that; I didn't get the exact name of the place). It includes first a show of several Tang style dances and musical pieces. The girls weren't too impressed with Chinese classical instruments, but they loved the dances and the dancing girls. One of them was actually the same song/dance performed at the Shaanxi province mini-pavillion at the Expo!
I took several pics and my aunt bought the DVD afterward. It was followed by dinner which was a wide variety of different style dumplings, which Xi'an is apparently known for. Even eating one of each style they served, I got full quickly. And unfortunately, I'm not much of a food connoisseur, so the only difference I can taste out of those dumplings is if they were meat or veggie, sweet or spicy... but it was still cool. ^^;
(I was also impressed with our waitress, who was serving several different tables in different languages. Ours was English, and our neighboring table was French. She had a strong accent, but was still pretty understandable at least in the English.)
In general, pollution aside, Xi'an is a cool place. It might not have the amount of "recent" imperial buildings left over that Beijing does, but as the capital (or practically right next to the capital) from Qin to Tang, and court to 72 emperors, you can't go far (or try to build a factory) in any direction without tripping over an archaeological treasure-house. And you gotta admit, when it comes to 'prettehs' and creature-comforts, the Tang really knew their stuff. :P