Tag: City Wall

China Travels: Xi’an and the Terracotta Army

China Travels: Xi’an and the Terracotta Army

Last week it was Golden Week and there is much to tell but before that, I have to finish recapping our week of China Travels 🙂

After Luoyang, the second stop of our trip was Xi’an. The major attraction is of course the Terracotta Army, about an hour outside of the city, but Xi’an itself also has lots of cool stuff to see. Here is what we managed to do:

Muslim Quarter

On our first morning we walked past the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower to the Muslim Quarter. There is a ton of different street food and we tried a few different things including sticky rice, pomegranate juice, scallion pancakes, yogurt, lamb skewers and a bun stuffed with lamb meat. Thankfully, we also took a food tour the next day so we could try even more goodies.

Great Mosque

The Great Mosque is located in the Muslim Quarter and it’s one of the biggest and oldest mosques in China. It consists of several courtyards and different archways and buildings. It’s built in traditional Chinese style and looks more like a temple. However, there are some inscriptions in Arabic and Islamic art, so it takes a little exploring to discover it’s really a mosque.

City Wall

Xi’an also has one of the oldest, biggest and best preserved city walls in China. It wraps around the inner city and has a total length of 14 kilometers. It is a massive wall: 12 meters tall and also 12-14 meters wide at the top and you can walk or cycle the whole thing. We walked a portion of it and it is really impressive!

Big Wild Goose Pagoda

We came for the water show in front of the pagoda which is supposed to be really cool, but sadly it was not running the week we were there. So all we got was a couple of photos of the outside and silly selfies 🙂

Morning Food Tour

As already mentioned a few times, I love going on Food Tours to discover all the local goodies. In Xi’an we went with Lost Plate, which offers a breakfast tour by tuk tuk. We tried fried beef stuffed buns, a spicy stew with meatballs and veggies, some bread, a persimmon and a sesame red bean “donut”, some moon cake (it was right before mid autumn festival) and finally delicious hand-pulled noodles in a beef sauce – I think everyone’s favorite dish. Or maybe it was the fried beef bun? 🙂 In any case, we all left full and happy.

Terracotta Army

And finally, one of the trip highlights: The Terracotta Warriors of China’s First Emperor. We visited all 3 pits and it was really cool to see, definitely an item on the China Bucket List. It’s crazy to think that the statues are over 2,200 years old but were only discovered 40 years ago. While most pictures only show the rebuilt part, the site is still a huge work in progress, so it would be cool to go back in 20 years to see it again.

Xi’an by Night

While we were lazy at the hotel, Thorben headed back to the Bell Tower, Drum Tower and Muslim quarter to capture some pretty pictures by night.

Seoul: Walking Tours

Seoul: Walking Tours

On Tuesday we got back from 4 days in Seoul, my first trip out of China, or really out of Shanghai, since we moved here.

Usually, when visiting a new city I like to do a free walking tour on the first day. I feel like it gives you a good overview, often good recommendations and most of the times they are really fun because the guide is hoping for lots of tips. When I researched Seoul I found “Seoul City Walking Tours“: The city of Seoul’s culture and tourism board offers over 20 free walking tours, so free, they don’t even accept tips. So naturally I signed us up for 5 of them.

Night tour of Seoullo 7017

On our first day we did the night tour of Seoullo 7017, a pedestrian elevated walkway in the center of town. It used to be a traffic overpass built in 1970 and was just opened for pedestrians in 2017, hence the name Seoullo 7017. It was cool to see the city from a different angle and lit up at night, there was some live music on the walkway so I think it is worth a visit. Our guide told us some interesting facts but overall I don’t think you need a guide to check it out.

Insadong

On Sunday morning went on a walk around Insadong, a quarter with lots of shops, galleries and food. The tour started at Tapgol park and then went through the streets of Insadong. We saw a church, lots of shops (many touristy, some with authentic local goods), visited a few galleries which had a teddy bear exhibit, caligraphy and embroidery, saw lotus flowers and a buddhist temple and finished the tour at the Bosingak Bell Ceremony. Bosingak is a big pavillion with a huge bell in it which is rung 12 times at noon every day. As a Korean you have to sign up online but if you are a tourist you can just go and help to ring the bell which was definitely something to remeber 🙂 It was a fun tour with just the two of us and our nice guide. They send a tour guide for just one reservation and we were only between 2 and 6 people for each tour.

Gyeongbokgung

On Monday we visited Gyeongbok Palace, the main royal palace for the last dynasty before the Japanse occupation. When we got there we saw the Changing of the Guards Ceremony and then we explored the Palace’s many buildings and learned about the different symbols, colors and uses of them.

Seoul Fortress (Naksan Section)

Doing two tours in a day is pretty tiring, especially since the second tour that day involved us hiking up the East Mountain along the city wall. After walking around Shanghai, which is completely flat, Seoul seemed like it was covered in huge mountains. I was pretty exhausted when we reached the top, Thorben would probably just call it a leisurely stroll. Unfortunately it was a misty day but at least it didn’t rain like the forecast said. We still got some nice views of the city, though I’m sure it is gorgeous on a clear day.

Bukchon Hanok Village

Our last tour started out at Unhyeongung, another palace or living quarter of the royal family. We learned a lot about how traditional Korean houses are built and what meaning the different elements and shapes have. After that we walked (or again, hiked) around Bukchon Hanok Village, an area where there are still many old houses. In some streets there was a mix of new and traditional houses but the famous photo spots are of course where you only see the beautiful traditional ones.

The volunteers who do the tours seemed like they were mostly retired and just enjoy to represent their city. The guides were focused more on history and facts so there weren’t as many fun stories and anecdotes as in the other free walking tours I’ve done. Overall, I liked the tours a lot and would definitely recommend doing some 🙂