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Beijing to Xian
in search of the Terracotta Army

Travel World Tour
Les Globe-Trotters, September 06, 2009

Peking Xi'an, Pingyao through: a go / return "past / present".

Youtouqingtoumi? Here, the main problem is communication: when they speak English, for them it is the Chinese. China is THE ideal country to develop our skills in Pictionary and mimes. "When China awakes, the world will tremble." Well, the world can shake ... China is on its way: it consumes, it destroys it rebuilt. These are Western cities that have offered us. How was China's capital before being selected for the 2008 Olympics? In Beijing, many neighborhoods were destroyed in favor of brand new shopping centers, hotels, 2x4 routes. The bicycles have given way to cars and motorcycles. In Datong, shops and even shops, copies of famous brands, which in turn are also copied. Impressive. Nothing to do with the image we had of China. What to visit in a large country like France 17 times? Go see the Fiat Panda pandas in Sichuan? Go see Tintin in Tibet? Or go for a little ride on the Silk Road? Unable to do anything. Can not see anything. We decide to focus on near Beijing; this does not prevent us to travel almost 3000 kms anyway!

Peking Xi'an, Pingyao through: a go / return "past / present".

The past is omnipresent in China. Many dynasties have succeeded: Mongolian time of Genghis Khan, the Ming, Qing ... he only misses the Ping and Pong! And all have left an imprint. Finally, a rich architectural and religious heritage.

  • As any visitor who respects, we went a lil tour the Great Wall of China. The oldest part, made of earth, date of 22 centuries. It was during the Ming Dynasty it was consolidated or rebuilt, stone and it took the form we know it. Well if we understand it does not seem to be of great use during different invasions from the north ... a bit like our "Maginot Line" what!
  • We were forbidden to mention it, but the quote still: the "Forbidden City", "home" of 2 Chinese dynasties (Ming and Qing) dates from the fourteenth century. At the entrance of the fixed Mao portrait proudly Tiananmen Square, the symbolic center of the Chinese universe.
  • Datong Yungang Grottoes. It is here that are the first Chinese Buddhist sculptures, contemporary to the Silk Road.
  • The walled city of Pingyao, the crossroads of major trade routes between Mongolia and China from the seventeenth century. The streets and houses are full of history, all the red lanterns light up ... night atmosphere "past / present" everywhere!
  • Xi'an and its army of terracotta soldiers. There are 22 centuries (yes !!!) the first emperor of the Chinese dynasties had the idea to build his own tomb (and he was only 13 years old!). 500,000 men worked for 36 years in the building of more than 6000 soldiers terracotta soldiers had to protect him in the afterlife. Just awesome. Soldiers are full size (1.75 m to 1.95 m), and were real weapons.
  • Mount Huashan Mountain in Shaanxi Province to a hundred kilometers east of the capital Xi'an. Culminating at 2160 m, is one of the five sacred mountains of China, mainly Taoist. The monks chose it because few people dare to follow them there. We went there and spent the night there! Great atmosphere.
De Pékin à Xian: à la recherche de l'armée Terracotta
Armée de Terre Cuite - Xian
Present. Beijing: a city in great change where the cost of living is quite expensive (understatement). It was multiplied by 3 since the 2008 Olympics The capital is a sprawling city changing (many buildings), which has a dozen ring roads; where bikes are no more place too ... During our stay temperatures have curled the 36 ° C all accompanied by a good heat haze ... and pollution. At table ! Yes, as we like the good French "great food!" And in China, we have great lunch! Here, no dog in our plate, otherwise it's finally good as pork (gasp!). After 5 months strip (pine, and not of bread), one starts to control. We are introduced to the Chinese technique for sucking the pasta: a big "slurp" is mandatory: very delicate in a mundane meal. Tea is here, as elsewhere in Asia, an institution. That is why we have been drinking hop-based model: the Tsing Tao. Another local specialty: noodles (pasta) box. Hot water is ready! Very convenient. And Chinese in? A little stung by our episode on Tibet (see Nepal border / China was closed to foreigners) and all that has happened in recent months, we arrived with some apprehension in the Middle Kingdom. It is clear that there is a difference between the Chinese government and the Chinese people. We rubbed people smiling, kind, calm, helpful and open minded: in short, a very good experience for us. Chinese cities are the country's image: huge. Here, a village is not less than 40 000 inhabitants and a city, not less than 2 million inhabitants. Many ethnic groups are present (56 in total); One of the great surprises of our trip to China: the Great Mosque of Xi'an using the walls of an ancient Buddhist pagoda (minaret under the pagoda). And in the Muslim quarter, we are eating kebab. Despite having the same alphabet, these various ethnic groups do not include them orally. Indeed, they do not speak the same way ideograms. In the 1950s, the Chinese government has decided to simplify the spelling of 2000 characters to make them easier to remember, and writing became horizontally from left to right. In 1958, the Pinyin was adopted as the phonetic system of mandarin; pinyin is the official pronunciation of Chinese. And "Beijing" is said in pinyin "Beijing".

A point to note: we do not feel in an oppressed country. Our only surprise, however, is for us to be denied access to our blog or Facebook-like community sites. And one for the road ... the time to read this article and over 100 Chinese lil will be born, and from the ranks of the country.

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