Friday, May 3, 2013

The City of Xi'an -Hannah Shivers


Xi’an was the capital of China before Beijing. This city has the longest history of China consisting of 13 dynasties. Four of the most well-known or, to some, most important: Qin (221-207 BC), Han (206BC-220AD), Sui (581-618AD), and Tang (618-908 AD). These dynasties assisted the development of the economy and political system. The Qin dynasty united China for the first time in its history, and in the Tang dynasty, the city reached 2 million people with the largest, most cosmopolitan settlement in the world. We had the opportunity to learn a little bit more about Xi’an’s history from our local tour guide on the bus rides.

The population of Xi’an is 8 – 10 million people. I have learned the way people drive in China is nothing like how Americans drive. The people of China must drive more aggressively; there are so many people that if the drivers were as “patient” as drivers in America, no one would get where they need to be. The driving in Xi’an seemed, to me, a little better. My hotel room overlooked an intersection, so this morning I watched the cars out my window and wondered what the laws of traffic were. Our tour guide told us the traffic laws were really only suggestions rather than actual laws that were strictly enforced, which is a difficult concept to grasp.

                Intersection outside my window. It doesn’t look too busy, but the cars and people are
coming from basically every direction.

Our local tour guide taught us that Xi’an means western peace and it is surrounded by a wall that is 700 kilometers long. The south gate of the wall was for the emperor’s use only. There is also a draw bridge across the moat, surrounding the wall that was built for more security purposes. Driving through Xi’an is never a direct route. Roads were constructed to weave in and out of the city wall, as we experienced. There is a beautiful, large garden on one side of the wall that I wish we would have had time to visit, but we only had time to look from the road as we drove passed.

This is the best picture I could get of the garden around the wall as we drove by on the bus.

Lastly, there is a bell tower that is at the center of the city. It was used as a kind of wake-up call in the mornings. When people heard the bells they knew it was time to get up. Also, there is a drum tower in another part of the city; the drums were used at night to signal the time for people to end their day and sleep.

This city was interesting to me because of how much history is found there. I do not remember everything that our tour guide told us about this city, but I will remember that it is like the roots of China. Our main tour guide, Michael, compared the three cities we are visiting on this trip to a tree. He said that Xi’an is like the roots because of its long history, Beijing is like the trunk because it is now the capital, and Shanghai is like the branches because it is the more modern city of China.

Hannah Shivers

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