Location: Xi'an

We started off our excursion to Xi’an by taking an overnight train from Beijing. To begin our first day, we met our tour guide, Daniel. He took us to the Xi’an Wall, which the group biked for two hours. It was amazing to see how the city used the wall to protect itself from the Mongolians for hundreds of years. Later, we rode a bus to a calligraphy museum, where we had a short tour and a Chinese Calligraphy lesson. We practiced writing Traditional Chinese characters on rice paper, including a fifty-three stroke character for a specific type of noodle. Finally, the group was allowed to freely explore the Muslim sector of the city, which was named after Muslims who traveled to China 1,200 years ago and integrated the Chinese culture with their own. There were many shops with unique souvenirs and food, like fried yogurt. Today, we started off the day by visiting a terracotta factory. They showed us the complete process of making Terracotta Warrior replicas, from allowing it to dry in its mold to baking it at 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. We also had an opportunity to see art made from silk there; a museum tour guide said that one tapestry could take a woman six months to complete! Next, we traveled to see the “real” Terracotta Warriors. Daniel told us that this was his 2,700th trip to see the warriors and that he hoped to visit it at least 3,000 times. The clay warriors were created by the First Emperor of China because of his superstitious beliefs. Surrounding his tomb, he believed they would protect him in his afterlife. Unfortunately, some of the warriors were destroyed in an earthquake in 2009. At the end of today, we took another overnight train back to Beijing. We had a great time traveling to Xi’an!