Exploring China’s Ancient City Xi’an in 2 Days

By on July 1, 2014

By Norine Rae –

Just as you enter my apartment, in Beijing, there is a world map hanging on the wall to the left. I placed this map on the wall when I arrived to remind me to look at the vastness of nations and pray for them as I’m led by the Holy Spirit. On this map, I placed an X over one city in China. The city was Xi’an and I was determined to visit it before leaving China.

Recently, my dream to visit this ancient city was realized when a few of my closest friends came to visit me in Beijing. They too agreed and declared they wanted to see Xi’an and blessed me by paying my way. My friends were in China for only ten days. Since I was also working during their visit, there were only two-in-a-half days I could travel. Knowing it would be a quick trip, we explored our options and determined that taking the night train would be a fun experience.

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photo 3So our amazing journey began as we took the luxury sleeper car (train) equipped with our own personal bathroom. Leaving Beijing in the evening and arriving early the following morning gave us a full day to see the sites. Trains are a great way to travel in China, but traveling in a luxury sleeper is by far the best as there are only two beds in each compartment – an upper and lower. It is important to note that the upper bed can be difficult to maneuver if one is not in shape. There is also a table and comfortable chair in the room so that you can play games, read, or enjoy a late meal. The cost for the one-way trip was approximately $120, which was just a fraction more than the cost of flying.

Once we arrived, our guide, Alex, met us at the train station. Since I am a teacher here in Beijing I asked my students if any of them where from Xi’an and explained that we needed a translator/guide. My students are always eager to help and one of them found a friend: A lovely college student who not only accompanied us, but also planned activities during our short stay. If you don’t speak Chinese, I recommend you join a tour or find a trustworthy guide prior to your arrival.

photo 3(1)We went straight from the train station to our hotel to freshen up. Our choice: Xian Huaqing Aegean International Hot Spring Resort & Spa suited all our desires and surpassed our expectations. It is conveniently located less than 6 km from the Terracotta Warriors.  The staff allowed us to check in early and we enjoyed all of the amenities available.  It was a beautifully maintained spa and hot springs with lovely staff. The breakfast buffet was nicely done with a great assortment of dishes. Even though it is extra to go to the hot springs, you don’t want to miss it as the various pools, vegetation and oriental details are lovely. I recommend enjoying the hot springs in the evening as it is less crowded and the ambiance is stunning with the romantic lighting.  The hotel cost was less than $100 a night including breakfast. We also enjoyed the cuisine available for our evening meals as well.

As for the sites our time was spent mainly touring the ‘must see’ Terracotta Warriors as they are the Treasures of the Great Qin Empire (259-210 B.C.) discovered in 1974 by a local farmer and now celebrated as The Eighth Wonder of the World.

This extraordinary archeological find will continue to amaze viewers for years as only three of the over 600 burial sites have been uncovered.  China is waiting for state of the art technology to be developed so that the future treasures unearthed are preserved from the effects of oxygen. Also, they found there is mercury poison around the tombs so to protect excavators from harm the government is determined to discover the safest and productive way of excavating before moving forward.

photo 4(1)One of the remarkable features of the Terracotta Warriors is their detail, for no two soldiers faces of over 1000 warriors are alike. Each is unique with uniforms, and hairstyles, which define their position and ranking.  Officers, generals, foot soldier, archers, weapons, horses, chariots, and fowl are already available for your viewing. The vastness and precision it took for over 700,000 workmen and artisans to create the artifacts in a period of thirty-seven years truly makes it a staggering engineering marvel. Qin’s imperial mausoleum is the richest and grandest find in China’s history boasting over 5 million visitors a year with approximately 70 percent being Westerners.  Just this past March, United States First Lady Michelle Obama and her family visited the mausoleum.

After an eventful day we took a quick taxi back to our hotel where we relaxed, ate and enjoyed the hot springs.  On our final day we decided to split up as a group since some wanted to just stay at the hotel relaxing in the hot springs and enjoying a personal massage. I elected to go into the city and view the ancient city wall. With our new friend and guide’s advice, we chose to rent bikes ($15) and were given 100 minutes to complete the circumference of city. I would advocate this to everyone who is in shape. It was level ground and really a fun vantage point.

photo 5After we finished our biking we where all hungry so like most tourist we depended on our amazing guide, Alex and her friend, to suggest some delicious local food. She didn’t disappoint us as we ate a wonderful traditional meal consisting of bread, soup, and fresh vegetables (You tear the bread into small pieces and they pour the soup over it, soaking the bread into the broth). To our chagrin, much too quickly, our day came to a close. We found ourselves rushing back to our hotel to meet up with our friends. Together we traveled by taxi to the airport for our 8:20 p.m. flight back to Beijing.

Yes, it was a whirlwind trip. And even though it rained most of the time we were in Xi’an I personally will count adventure as one of the most precious travel experiences in my life. I felt so rich and blessed to be with great friends who I treasure as we together explored the treasures and pleasures of China’s ancient city Xi’an.

About Norine Rae

Norine Rae resides in Redding, California where she is a member of Bethel Church. In 2012 she completed her Master’s in Intellectual Leadership from A.W. Tozer Seminary through Simpson University. She has worked over 30 years in Human Services fields and has done extensive work in ministry, missions, and leadership both foreign and domestic. She is a lifelong learner, international speaker, minister, writer, mother, and friend.

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Exploring China’s Ancient City Xi’an in 2 Days