Terra-cotta Warriors, Shanghai, South Korea
31.03.2016 - 09.04.2016
RTW day 123 - West Australia
March 31 – April 2, 2016 Xian, China Terra-cotta Warriors
3/31 Arrived at the port in Xiamen, China, transferred to the airport and arrived in Xian, China. Had a very nice 1-hour ride to the Old City Wall. The spring flowers and cherry trees were blooming. During the drive along the coast, we passed many statues of runners beside the road.
The Xian City wall was started by the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty created by enlarging an existing one from the Tang Dynasty. We checked into the Xian Hilton then did a walk around the local area.
4/1 The Terracotta Warriors, considered to be one of the greatest archaeological treasures, were accidently discovered in 1974 by a farmer digging a well. The thousands of clay soldiers were buried with China’s first emperor to accompany him in his after-life. There are 3 pits that are currently being excavated. Pit 1 is the largest with an estimated 6000 life size soldiers and horses and is the most active for restoration. Pit 2 has an estimated 2000 and Pit 3 has 65. The warriors are grouped by battle order, rank by rank, some mounted on horse drawn chariots and others in infantry groups armed with spears, swords and crossbows. Each figure has unique facial expression and hair styles. Pit 2 has a lot of the roof covering the soldiers. The roof was made up of logs and woven mats. During one of the dynasty wars, the soldiers were vandalized by burning them and knocking off the heads. This was a very fascinating place to see.
Following lunch, we did a tour of the Shaanxi Historical Museum. The museum exhibited historical relics of past dynasties of ceramic, bronze articles and stone carvings. After a return to the Hotel for a rest, we ventured out to the De Fa Chang Dumpling Restaurant for a Dumpling Banquet. We were served 19 different steam pots of dumplings on a Lazy Susan on the table. Our table of 10 had a great time picking out our dumpling dinner. Today started a 3-day national holiday. I forgot the name but the folks were to go to their family graves to clean them and get rid of bad spirits. Most folks take a 3-day holiday which adds to the tourist traffic.
4/2 Wild Goose Pagoda Originally built in 652ad at a height of 10 stories, to house the figurines of Buddha that a Chinese monk brought to Xian. After being damaged in various wars, only 7 stories remain.
We did a transfer to the airport, had lunch (More dumplings) then the flight back to Shanghai. There was heavy rain when we arrived.
4/3 The rain continued so we did not do the Hop-0n-Off bus tour.
4/4 The tour we had scheduled was cancelled due to the heavy holiday traffic and the ship was leaving early afternoon. We took the shuttle into town and did a walk along the river along with hundreds of holiday folks. Shanghai is known for its architecture. There are a few old buildings but the attention is on the newer construction and design.
4/5 Chejo, S. Korea Roger did a tour of the Lave Tubes and Crater.
4/7 Beijing and the Great Wall of China
Originally, we were to have an overnight in Beijing to see the Wall and the other sights of the city but the Chinese changed the rules for ships that they could not do 2 different ports without having a night at another country. So that prompted the stop in Chejo and the loss of the night in Beijing. We got up early and did a 3 hour bus ride to Badaling to view the wall and have lunch at an unrestored portion of the wall. The buffet lunch was very good and they also had Great Wall wine that was not so good. The beer was OK. The wall is 2,000 years old and 5,500 miles long beginning at the Yellow Sea and ending at the Gobi desert. In Badaling, the first section of the wall opened to tourists in 1957 after being restored. We had a short time to explore a small section of the wall before the 3 hour drive back to the ship.
4/9 Seoul, S. Korea
We did a tour of Seoul Highlights with Lunch. It was a 70 minute bus ride into Seoul from the port.
At the National Folk Museum, The Dol Hareubang statues, called Stone Grandfather, are made of volcanic basalt stone. Not a lot of information is known as to when they were created or why they are unique to Korea. It is believed that they provide protection to people and their places, guarding them from demons. Some believe that if an expecting girl wishes to have boy, she would rub the nose and for a girl, rub the ears. After the museum tour, we had a local lunch with a wide variety of small plates. Most were very good, and more local beer.
On the weekends the young girls and boys like to dress up and visit the tourist spots. They were very keen to have their photo taken.
Insadong (Mary’s Alley) was a pedistrian street of galleries, shops and crafts,
Next stop was the Cheongyecheon Stream, called the new symbol of Seoul. Between 1958-1976 shanties covered the area so they were removed and the area covered with concrete to improve the ascetics of the area. From 2003-2005 it was re-designed to be an Eco-friendly urban area for shops are business.
Next entry is for Japan and Philippines