National Day – Autumn Festival
We started the first week of in October with a week break for National Day and Autumn Festival. Two of my co-workers and my buddy Drew who teaches economics at Shanghai University flew to Xi’an “the old capital” for a week of tramping around the area. I had my first real experience with masses of humanity. I did not comprehend the population in China and traveling when 650 million people are on break and many are trying to see the same sights that I am. We flew from Changzhou to Xi’an on Sunday. Our plan was to catch a train to Luoyang that day so we would be able to head to the Longman Grottos on Monday morning. Well that did not work out so we headed to the Han Tang hostel for the night and made travel arrangements for Tuesday. Monday we would spend in Xi’an, and early Tuesday we would take the high speed train to Luoyang.
A bit about Xi’an. Xi’an was the first real center of power in China and roughly 3,000 years ago the Qin dynasty unified much of China. Subsequently, the Han, Sui and Tang dynasties were also based in Xi’an. It remained the center of power until the 10th century before shifting to the East. Xi’an was once the terminus of the Silk Road and a melting pot of cultures and religions. The city walls remain intact, and vendors of all descriptions still crowd the narrow lanes of the Muslim Quarter.
On Monday we spend ½ a day walking around the 14km city walls. Xi’an is one of the few cities in China where the old city walls are still standing. They were originally constructed in 1370 during the Ming dynasty. The 12 meter high walls are surrounded by a moat. Most of the walls have been restored or rebuilt so we were able to walk the entire 14km perimeter in about 4-5 hours. To get a feel of the grandeur the walls originally enclosed 83km an area 7 times larger than today’s city center.