Five things you may not have known about the Terracotta warriors (Travel Landmark of the Week)

Five things you may not have known about the Terracotta warriors (Travel Landmark of the Week)

Most people know the basics around the Terracotta warriors: They were replicas of an actual army buried with an emperor and that no two of their faces are the same. But did you know the following? Blacksmiths used Chrome plating technology Some of the weapons found inside the tomb are extremely well-preserved. After testing several of the weapons, scientists concluded that the surface contained a layer of Chromium, about 10 to 15 microns thick. The chromium helped preserve the luster and sharpness of the blade for 2,000 years. Chrome plating was recently invented in the 20th century, however ancient China had developed a similar technique almost 2,000 years ago! The boots reveal the status of the man You know what they say, it’s the shoes that make a man. And in this case, it’s really true. Depending on the angle of a statue’s boot tip, you can tell whether he was lower, middle or upper class. The lower class infantry, for example, have a flat toe, no upward angle what so ever. Archers and middle level officers on the other hand have a slight upward angle at the end of their footwear, whereas generals (pictured below) have a very pronounced, upward curved boot tip, almost like a ski jump. A farmer found the first soldier On March 29th, 1974, local farmer Yang Zhifa along with 5 other farmers from Xi Yang village discovered some pottery fragments of bronze weapons as they were drilling a series of wells in search of water. This lead to the excavation and subsequent discovery of the terracotta warrior army. Due to the incredible scope and value of the find,...
Descend Sparrow Hawk Flipping Over on Mount Hua (travel experience of the week)

Descend Sparrow Hawk Flipping Over on Mount Hua (travel experience of the week)

Your sweaty hands tightly grip the rusty metal chains.   You wedge your right foot into a small 4 in. deep cubby hole on the cliff face. The left foot dangles freely and paws at the wall, searching. Unfortunately, the steep angle of decent makes it impossible to get a visual on your left foot’s next landing pad.   You find it. Surprisingly, it’s off to the right side of your right foot, making your legs criss-cross each other.   Continue this way for another 15 meters, flailing and prodding blindly for the next recess chiseled into the mountain. As the path snakes and almost “flips” over on itself, you’re not sure where you’ll land if you fall. Thank God you’re wearing a safety harness.   Finally you reach the bottom.   Congratulations, you’ve just conquered Sparrow Hawk Flipping Over. Now go collect your reward – a sweeping view of jaunty mountains atop a lonely chess pavilion. How much does it cost, How to get there, Safety: Sparrow Hawk Flipping Over is a steep rock face on the East Peak of Mount Hua. The trail was dangerous in the past, however with the recent addition of a safety harness, it’s become much less so. Entry into the park costs 180 Yuan, or 90 with a student ID. The harness costs 30 yuan and if you want a picture, tack on an extra 20 spot. High speed trains depart 12 times a day from Xian North station and cost 35 Yuan (42 minutes). A 20 minute taxi ride from the town’s train station to the mountain is between 20 and 30 Yuan. What...
Travel Landmark of the Week: Lama Temple

Travel Landmark of the Week: Lama Temple

What is it: Back in the day (1694), court eunuchs resided in the original complex of the Lama Temple and served the emperor of the Forbidden city. Interestingly, other than not having, ahem, some of the anatomy of fellow-men, eunuchs didn’t have it all that bad. Think of the most privileged of the bunch as Varys from Game of Thrones. They ran the daily operations of the imperial court, in various capacities, from 220 BC to the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911. They also vied for power with military officials and other politicians. Some even chose the profession to escape the clutches of poverty. A “small” price to pay for the possibility of wealth and power. Eventually, Prince Yongzheng heir to the imperial throne, took up residence here. After his accession in 1722, half of the temple was turned into a lamasery and the entire complex was converted in 1744. Of particular note in the temples are the three statues of the Buddhas of the Three Ages (pictured above) and a 26m tall White Sandalwood statue of the Maitreya Buddha. How to pray: Today, tourists and faithful alike visit the temple. Upon entering the complex, the smell of incense may already be noticeable. If you want to have your prayers heard, there is a very specific way of doing it. The number three plays in important role in the ritual. Basically, you have to light three incense sticks and bow three times in all four directions, but that is a definite oversimplification. An extensive article on the subject can be found here. But ladies, be forewarned, there are certain “times” of the month when your prayers will not be heard. The following excerpt was taken from Theworldofchinese.com (the source of the link above). Menstruation: For some reason, praying while having your...
Travel Experience of the Week: Dumpling class Beijing

Travel Experience of the Week: Dumpling class Beijing

Ah, Dumplings – my default food of choice in China. If I am unsure what to eat for dinner, dumplings are there to rescue me. Until now, I haven’t met one I don’t like. In fact, after 20 days in China, I would consider myself a pro at eating them (if you can be a pro at eating something. Wait professional eating is a thing, right?) I do not, however, consider myself a pro at making them. For how small and innocent they look, they sure do require a lot of effort to manufacture. The cooking class I took was about two and a half hours long and we needed that entire time to finish our little bundles of deliciousness. We made both boiled dumplings and their tastier pan fried version, pot stickers. When making a dumpling, you should start from the outside in. The dumpling dough is flour based and the idea is to knead it until there aren’t any cracks. Obviously I’m no Emeril, but no worries as the dumpling shell is not the main attraction here, the filling is. I won’t go into all the ingredients we used (cilantro, ginger, mushrooms, onions, carrots, minced pork to name the bulk), but we needed to finely chop them all; you don’t want to bite into a phatty chunk of ginger half way through your dumpling. The key is balance and subtlety here. For the coup de grâce, comes the folding of the dumpling. I kind of fat fingered a couple of them, but I think mine didn’t look too bad in the end. And remember, the filling is the...