Time moved fast on our culminating excursion, and the Fall 2017 SSTers have already left China. This entry will tell the story of the Xian and Beijing portions of our trip through photos and captions. In the coming days there will be one more blog post with a few final reflections.
First overnight train, Chengdu to Xian
It was crowded but fun
Narrow corridors on the train
We arrived in Xian at 8 a.m. and found our hotel and some breakfast before walking to the Xian City Wall. Once there Christian gave us some notes from his research. His service internship was at Peace in China (Wang Ying’s organization) and he spent some of that time gathering information for the sites we visited.
Biking the full length of the wall was about 9 miles distance
The Xian Wall was built in the 14th century and has been rebuilt several times since
Biking on the wall allows views of the modern city of Xian mixed with ancient structures
We then walked to the Muslim Quarter of Xian to find lunch
Noodles and beef
The next morning we visited the Terracotta Warriors. Jing, our guide for the day, provided helpful historical context.
The Terracotta Army includes 8,000 warriors and hundreds of chariots and horses, and thousands of weapons. More than 700,000 workers were involved in constructing this monument to China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BC). It was discovered by farmers in 1974 and soon became one of the most significant excavation and restoration endeavors of the 20th century. The work is ongoing to restore the figures found in three different pits.
The kneeling archer is kept in a glass cage as the only fully intact warrior. 160 kneeling archers were found in Pit 2.
Listening to Jing’s information with ear sets as we viewed the glass-enclosed restored warriors
As we left the complex with the warriors, we stopped at a tea shop for a tasting
Thursday was not only Terracotta Warriors day – it was American Thanksgiving. We could not find turkey or mashed tomatoes so celebrated with some other Western food.
We shared our gratitudes with each other to close Thanksgiving day
Walking through Xian on Thanksgiving evening
After a day of exploring more of Xian on Friday, we took another overnight train to Beijing. A bus picked us up from the station at 7 a.m. After breakfast we went to the Summer Palace.
At the palace we paid a deposit for a wheelchair for Christian to use, and the staff person accepting our money wrote down the serial number for each bill to make sure he gave us back the same money. Precise paperwork like this was typical throughout our travels.
The Summer Palace dates back to 1153 and expanded in the 1700s. It was destroyed during the Second Opium War (1860) and then again in the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. The restored palace is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Group photo in the theater arena of the Summer Palace
The theater at the Summer Palace
The Long Corridor
The lake at Summer Palace
Scenes from the temple at Summer Palace
Our final stop on Saturday was the Temple of Heaven, built 1406-1420 and used during the Ming and Qing dynasties as a place for the emperors to pray for good harvests.
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is considered a masterpiece of ancient Chinese wooden architecture
After a night of rest in our Beijing hotel, it was another early morning to walk to Tiananmen Square to see the flag ceremony
Even though I am trying to find my true self, I still need to allow room for growth. Room for progress needs to be kept because my true self now will not be the same ten years from now, and to stay stagnant would defeat the propose of trying to improve myself. – Cornelius
In Tiananmen Square
Waiting for our tickets at the Forbidden City; we were very grateful for sunny spots
The Forbidden City was the home to the emperors of China’s most recent Dynasties. It hosts 15 million annual visitors as well as a vast museum with nearly 2 million pieces of art.
On Monday we arrived at the Mutianyu entrance to the Great Wall. Most of this famous structure was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) with a cost of at least 100,000 human lives.
The wall had more steep sections than we expected and was generally quite narrow
The group took chair lifts to the wall and went down by toboggan run, allowing us 3 hours to hike along the wall
Not sanctioned, but still photo-worthy
I’m willing to believe there are parts of myself that are fluid and can change with time; however, there are parts that I do not think will change. I don’t think this limits my ability to transform…but my acknowledgement of this allows for the potential to transform. – Elsa
Goodbye to the Great Wall