Small Wild Goose Pagoda

the bell tower & the drum tower in xi’an

Monday, April 20:  Finally, on my last day in Xi’an, I wake up to sunshine.  I’m glad because I have a lot I want to see today before flying back to Nanning tomorrow morning.  I enjoy the buffet breakfast in the hotel, then I head out toward the Muslim Quarter.  I make stops at the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower on my way there.

The Bell Tower was built in the 17th year of Hongwu (1384 AD) of the Ming dynasty.  It’s named for a huge bell hung in the tower to tell the time.  The tower is a mixed structure of bricks and wood, is 1370 square meters, and is 36 meters high with the architectural style of the Ming dynasty. It has undergone many repairs since 1949.

Bell at the Bell Tower

Bell at the Bell Tower

I walk around the perimeter of the tower, which sits in the middle of a roundabout, and see views in all directions.  This is the view to the north.

the view north from the Bell Tower

the view north from the Bell Tower

I can see the Drum Tower to the northwest.

Looking west to the Drum Tower

Looking west to the Drum Tower

Looking directly west I can see the busy streets of Xi’an and the Drum Tower to the right.

The view west from the Bell Tower

The view west from the Bell Tower

The Imitated Qin Chime Bells, 39 pieces altogether, are reproduced in line with the Yuefu bells unearthed from the mausoleum of the first emperor of the Qin dynasty and the Bianbo bells excavated in Meixian and Fufeng counties of Shaanxi province.

In the Chime Bell room are some interesting Chinese paintings.

Chinese paintings

Chinese paintings

According to a placard in the room, this set of imitated chime bells includes 7 bo bells, 18 Yong bells, and 14 Niu bells.  They are exquisite in decorative patterns and are in timbre.  Such classical musical instruments could produce tunes of all kinds, ancient and modern, Chinese and foreign.

The Imitated Qin Chime Bells

The Imitated Qin Chime Bells

I adore the colorful painted ceilings in this room.

pretty painted ceilings

pretty painted ceilings

swirls and squares

swirls and squares

another Chinese painting

another Chinese painting

Outside, I admire the iconic flying eaves that are so perfectly Chinese.

flying eaves of the Bell Tower

flying eaves of the Bell Tower

ceiling in the Bell Tower

ceiling in the Bell Tower

I see the view looking south to the south gate of the city walls.  My hotel is along this stretch, only a block or two from the tower.  It’s the perfect location for exploring Xi’an.

View south from the Bell Tower

View south from the Bell Tower

I love the red doors and the carvings on the railings that make interesting shadows on the walkway.

walkway on the perimeter of the Bell Tower

walkway on the perimeter of the Bell Tower

I come full circle and see the western view again.

View west from the Bell Tower

View west from the Bell Tower

After leaving the Bell Tower, I walk west to the Drum Tower, built in the 13th year of Hongwu (1380 AD) of the Ming dynasty.  It’s named for the huge drums laid in the tower to tell the time.  The tower is also a mixed structure of bricks and wood, occupies an area of 1840 square meters, and is 34 meters high in the typical architecture of the Ming dynasty.  Like the Bell Tower, it has undergone many repairs since 1949.

The Drum Tower

The Drum Tower

Eaves of the Drum Tower

Eaves of the Drum Tower

Drums at the Drum Tower

Drums at the Drum Tower

It just so happens that I arrive at the Drum Tower just in time to hear the drum performance.

A drum performance

A drum performance

painted drum

painted drum

dragon drum

dragon drum

Fast motion drummer

Fast motion drummer

Walking around the back rim of the Drum Tower, I can see Beiyuanmen in the Muslim Quarter.  It doesn’t look quite as busy as it was last night.

View of Beiyuanmen in the Muslim Quarter

View of Beiyuanmen in the Muslim Quarter

more drums at the Drum Tower

more drums at the Drum Tower

From the Drum Tower, I can see some gardens and the Bell Tower to the east.

View from the Drum Tower back to the Bell Tower

View from the Drum Tower back to the Bell Tower

Around the north side of the Drum Tower, there is the usual bustling commerce that’s ubiquitous throughout China.

View to the northeast from the Drum Tower

View to the northeast from the Drum Tower

view northwest from the Drum Tower

view northwest from the Drum Tower

After leaving the Drum Tower, I head down and out to explore the Muslim Quarter and the Great Mosque.

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Categories: Asia, Bell Tower, China, Drum Tower, Shaanxi, Travel, Xi'an | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

first venture into xi’an’s muslim quarter

Sunday, April 19:  After my full day with the Terra Cotta Warriors, the emperor and his concubine, and Chiang Kai-Shek, Chelsea drops Andrew and me back at our respective hotels.  I sit in the lobby for a while checking emails and posting some pictures before heading out to check out a restaurant recommended by Chelsea; it sits on the street between the Bell Tower and the south gate of the city walls.  I find when I go inside the restaurant that it’s outrageously expensive, so I decide to leave and head to the Muslim Quarter, which I’ve heard is lively and has some of the best food in the city.

Looking at the Bell Tower from the south gate of the ancient city wall

Looking at the Bell Tower from the south gate of the ancient city wall

I haven’t yet explored the ancient city walls, but I hope to do so tomorrow.  I’ve heard you can rent a bicycle at the top of the wall and can ride all the way around the perimeter if you like.  I can only hope there’s no rain.

the south gate of Xi'an's ancient city wall

the south gate of Xi’an’s ancient city wall

As I walk north on the main street, I can see the fabulous Bell Tower glowing in its golds, greens and reds.

The Bell Tower at night

The Bell Tower at night

At the Bell Tower, I turn to the west and stroll toward the Drum Tower.  It is also lit up beautifully.

The Drum Tower at night

The Drum Tower at night

Just north of the Drum Tower is the Muslim Quarter, home for centuries to Xi’an’s thirty thousand Hui people, said to be descended from 8th century Arab soldiers (Lonely Planet China).  The quarter covers several blocks inhabited by over 20,000 Muslims. There are about ten mosques in this area, among which the Great Mosque is the most famous and popular (China Travel Guide: Muslim Quarter).  I plan to visit the area in greater depth tomorrow.

venturing into the Muslim Quarter

venturing into the Muslim Quarter

Muslim food and souvenir vendors abound on Beiyuanmen, the flagstoned narrow street just north of the Drum Tower.  The buildings on both sides of the street are modeled on architectural styles of both the Ming (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasties (1644-1911). The owners are all Muslims (China Travel Guide: Muslim Quarter).

the busy Muslim Quarter

the busy Muslim Quarter

Lanterns for sale

Lanterns for sale

The Muslims on Beiyuanmen are devout followers of Islam, so they form a tight-knit community, which maintains its own culture and traditions to this day (China Travel Guide: Muslim Quarter).

As you can see below, the street is very crowded this evening.

Xi'an's Muslim Quarter

Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter

I stop in a restaurant for some dinner. I’ve heard of a delicious soup with beef or lamb that’s poured over unleavened bread, but I have a hard time finding it on the menu, even using my cumbersome WayGo app.

the menu in the restaurant

the menu in the restaurant

I finally settle on some very wide spicy noodles that I see at someone else’s table.  I gesture to the waitress that I’d like whatever the man in the center table is having.

a nice little Muslim restaurant

a nice little Muslim restaurant

I didn’t mention that I’ve had an upset stomach most of the day and, even tonight, my stomach is feeling a little queasy; these stomach problems have accompanied me throughout China over the last year.  That doesn’t stop me from eating every last bite of these oily and spicy noodles, which are fabulous.

wide spicy noodles

wide spicy noodles

The crowds are thick in the Muslim Quarter and I’m tired from my long day today, so I walk back to my hotel, once again passing the Drum Tower and the Bell Tower on my way “home.”

The Drum Tower

The Drum Tower

The Drum Tower in Xi'an

The Drum Tower in Xi’an

It’s been a great two days in Xi’an, and I have another whole day tomorrow, Monday.  My flight back to Nanning isn’t until early Tuesday morning. I plan to visit the Bell and Drum Towers, the Muslim Quarter, the city walls, and in the evening, to attend a performance with Mari, the Finnish lady I met today. The performance is to be accompanied by dinner, in which dumplings of all kinds are served. 🙂

Categories: Asia, Bell Tower, China, Drum Tower, Muslim Quarter, Shaanxi, Travel, Xi'an | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

the bell tower in the heart of xi’an

Saturday, April 18:  Following my long day of exploring a rainy Xi’an and having a rest in my room at Fortune Suites, I head out to look for something to eat.  My stomach has been seriously messed up ever since I ate the Indian food this afternoon, so I don’t dare venture far. I’m still hungry even though I don’t feel good, and I’m hoping whatever I can find will sit well with me.  My hotel is luckily right in the heart of the old city, marked by the Bell Tower, which sits at the crossroads of the four major streets of the city.

Luckily, in the area surrounding the Bell Tower are a number of Western restaurants.  I see a Pizza Hut, which is surprisingly popular in China, so I head there for my favorite fried shrimp meal, which is really just an appetizer portion.  I think that will take care of me tonight.

Bell Tower in Xi'an

Bell Tower in Xi’an

The Bell Tower was originally built two blocks west of here in 1384 during the early Ming dynasty. It contains several large bronze-cast bells from the Tang dynasty.  The present structure was built in 1582 and restored in 1739.  This colorful triple-eaved wooden structure built on a brick platform is lit up tastefully and provides a beacon for people trying to get their bearings in the city (Lonely Planet China & Wikipedia: Bell Tower of Xi’an).

Bell Tower in Xi'an

Bell Tower in Xi’an

It’s quite a busy spot as it’s in the center of a roundabout that is at the crossroads of the four major streets in Xi’an.  You can get to it by way of a tunnel which also leads to the subway.

City streets around Xi'an's Bell Tower

City streets around Xi’an’s Bell Tower

Bell Tower in Xi'an

Bell Tower in Xi’an

Just west of the Bell Tower is the Drum Tower.  I will visit both of these the day after tomorrow.

Bell Tower, with the Drum Tower in the distance

Bell Tower, with the Drum Tower in the distance

After my dinner, accompanied by a German beer, I head back to the hotel, where once again, though free wi-fi is advertised, I have to use wi-fi in the lobby as it doesn’t work in my room.  It seems I’m encountering this problem too many times in China.  Tomorrow, I’m going with a guide and a small group of tourists to see the Terra Cotta Warriors and a few other sites outside the city. 🙂

Categories: Asia, Bell Tower, China, Fortune Suites, Shaanxi, Travel, Xi'an | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

the small wild goose pagoda in xi’an

Saturday, April 18:  After leaving the Beilin Museum, I take a rickety three-wheeled taxi to the Small Wild Goose Pagoda outside of the Xi’an City Walls.  It’s quite a long and bumpy ride, and my head is rattling when I step out of the taxi and walk through the pagoda entrance.

Entrance to Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Entrance to Small Wild Goose Pagoda

It’s still a dark and dreary day, but at least it’s stopped raining.  I walk around the pagoda, admiring the views from different vantage points and angles.

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

The Xiaoyan Ta, or Small Wild Goose Pagoda, is a delicate 45-meter tall building constructed in 707, during the Tang Dynasty.  It’s a Buddhist pagoda of the Jianfu Temple, one of the three Buddhist Sutra Translation Venues of Chang’an City that have been well-known in the history of Buddhist sutra translation in China. During the middle period of the Tang Dynasty, a cultural organization known as Buddhist Sutra Translation Institute was established here; it was directly managed by the imperial government.  It attracted monks from different countries to translate Buddhist texts.

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

The Small Wild Goose Pagoda is an example of Buddhist architecture built during the heyday of the Silk Road as a witness to the history of Buddhism’s introduction to China by India.  It was popular in Chang’an, the capital of the Tang Dynasty.

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

On one side of the pagoda are steps leading up, but first I have to buy a ticket to climb, which I do at the temple across the path.

Looking down at Jianfu Temple from Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Looking down at Jianfu Temple from Small Wild Goose Pagoda

The pagoda was originally fifteen stories, but the top two were damaged in an earthquake.  I climb up to the thirteenth story where I then climb a ladder through a hole to the jagged rooftop.  Here I find some wonderful views.

View from Small Wild Goose Pagoda

View from Small Wild Goose Pagoda

View from Small Wild Goose Pagoda

View from Small Wild Goose Pagoda

View from Small Wild Goose Pagoda

View from Small Wild Goose Pagoda

After exiting the pagoda, I take a stroll through the Jianfu Temple grounds.  Jianfu Temple, or Felicity Temple, and the pagoda are rare cultural relics from the Tang Dynasty, regarded as the Golden Age in Chinese history with its capital Chang’an as the most majestic city in the world at that time, according to a placard at the temple.  The temple complex was reconstructed in the Ming and Qing dynasty style and stands witness to the 1,000-year development of Xi’an City.

Jianfu Temple, or Felicity Temple

Jianfu Temple, or Felicity Temple

Peonies at Jianfu Temple

Peonies at Jianfu Temple

Small Wild Goose Pagoda as seen from Jianfu Temple

Small Wild Goose Pagoda as seen from Jianfu Temple

Garden at Jianfu Temple with Small Wild Goose Pagoda in the background

Garden at Jianfu Temple with Small Wild Goose Pagoda in the background

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

After leaving the pretty gardens of the temple, I walk around the rest of the complex, where I find a number of pavilions, a structure covered in red wishes, a bell and a Bell Tower.

on the grounds of Small Wild Goose Pagoda

on the grounds of Small Wild Goose Pagoda

wishes

wishes

Close up of wishes

Close up of wishes

Bell

Bell

Bell

Bell

Built in the Qing dynasty, the Bell Tower has a brick and wood structure, a multi-eaved hip-and-gable roof, and a giant iron bell that has been used for telling time and in Buddhist services.  During the Ming and Qing dynasties, the “bell chiming in the morning at the Small Wild Goose Pagoda” was one of the eight scenic attractions in the Guanzhong area.

Bell Tower

Bell Tower

Bell & Bell Tower

Bell & Bell Tower

I go out through the gate of a large wall, where I find interesting stone characters, cherry blossom trees, fountains, ponds, bridges, gardens and more views of the Small Wild Goose Pagoda.

Characters under the cherry blossoms

Characters under the cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms

Pond and bridge at Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Pond and bridge at Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Fountains in the pond

Fountains in the pond

Fountains and Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Fountains and Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Gardens & the Xi'an Museum

Gardens & the Xi’an Museum

Bridge at Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Bridge at Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Fountains & Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Fountains & Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Pond and fountains

Pond and fountains

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Gardens & Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Gardens & Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Strolling these grounds, I run across the Xi’an Museum, but I have no intention of going here since it has stopped raining.  I exit the pagoda grounds near the museum and head in a southerly direction.  The map I have shows that if I walk several blocks south along Zhuque Dajie and cross a road called Nanerhuan Lu, I will find Daxingshan Si, another Buddhist temple, off a narrow market street.

Xi'an Museum

Xi’an Museum

Xi'an Museum

Xi’an Museum

Little do I know just how long this walk will be.  Funny how things look so much smaller on maps!

Categories: Asia, Bell Tower, China, Jianfu Temple, Shaanxi, Small Wild Goose Pagoda, Travel, Xi'an, Xi'an Museum, Xiaoyan Ta | Tags: , , , , , | 24 Comments

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