Suitcase and World: April 2018

Sunday, April 8, 2018

An Ancient Village. Dangjiacun.

We spent the afternoon visiting an ancient village called Dangjiacun which is located several hours drive from Xi'an but only about a 20 minute or so drive from the city of Hangcheng.

The name, pronounced 'dung-jya-tsoon', literally means "the Dang and Jia clan village". Dangjiacun came into existence around 1331 AD, during the time of the Yuan Dynasty which was founded by the great Mongol emperor, Kublai Khan.  Even though China nominated the village for UNESCO World Heritage Site designation back in 2006, few tourists - foreign or local, seem to know about this place.  In fact, if you Google it and try to look for any sort of historical description about the place, you pretty much come up empty handed.  The only write ups are from people who have visited the place.  We came here based on recommendation by Genessa and again, I was a bit skeptical because of the lack of information about the place but my gut told me that was probably a good reason to come here because it's still off the beaten tourist path.

Day Trip. Guanzhong Folk Art Museum.

have to admit that I was a bit hesitant, actually quite a bit hesitant, about visiting this place called Guanzhong Folk Art Museum.  But Genessa kept assuring me that it was worth coming to and I'm glad I listened to here.  I was imagining a museum filled with all sorts of artifacts and indeed that's what it is except it's an open air museum and the artifacts are mainly houses.  More about this later in the posting but for now, I have to do the obligatory "post up about breakfast" blurb.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Xi'an. Random Moments, Random Photos.

Hotpot Dinner!

After our morning stroll along the top of the old city walls and through the old neighborhood around Shuyuanmen Ancient Culture Street, Yim and I decided it was time for lunch.  Little did we know how close, like less than a block from where we entered the old city walls (South Gate), we were to the fast food restaurant that we had our dinner at the night we arrived into Xi'an.

Strollin' Thru The Xi'an 'Hood With Yim. Shuyuanmen Ancient Culture Street.

Te moment we left the old city walls behind, we found ourselves on the quiet streets of the old neighborhood.  We didn't have any sort of a map to guide us so we just walked up a street to see what was there.  A few shuttered up shops, not yet open for business.  Some quiet homes and side alleys.  Even though at times, there wasn't much interesting to look at, I love walks like's a small peek into local life.  Yim and I barely spoke on the first part of our walk.  It was as if our quiet surroundings hushed us into silence.  So, I took photos and here are a few of them.

Exploring Xi'an With Yim. The Old City Walls.

im and I have the day to ourselves today as we sent Bro and SK off on their own sightseeing venture today - they'll be visiting the Terracotta Warriors and Han Yang Ling Museum.  We arranged for a car and driver to take them around and they will hire a guide to take them on a tour of the Terracotta Warriors complex.  Yim and I did this same itinerary in 2016 so we were able to advise them on what to do.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Xi'an. The Drum Tower.

After our brief visit to the Great Mosque, Yim wanted to go back to the same art gallery that we had visited in 2016 to see if there were any new works of art for sale.  So we made our way to the covered arcade where all the souvenir vendors and art galleries are located.  Believe it or not, we found our gallery.  I think it was even the same guy, the artist's son, manning the place.

Xi'an. Back to the Great Mosque.


fter lunch, we plunged ourselves back into the crowd of the streets of the Muslim Quarter and miraculously managed to find our way to the Grand Mosque.  It was funny that at one point, we crossed paths with two Muslim men and without exchanging a single word, they pointed us in the direction of the mosque.  It was that obvious that we were tourists....even with our obviously Chinese faces!  Of course, using our fingers we reconfirmed the walking directions and then smiled and waved to the very friendly men as we  left them behind.

Xi'an. The Muslim Quarter.

It's the first day of my third visit back to Xi'an and it's Yim's second time here. For both Bro and SK, it's their first visit to the city and I hope they enjoy their time here.  For me, I think Xi'an is my favorite city in China as far as being a tourist is concerned.  The old city is reasonably small and very walkable.  It's full of history and interesting sights, sounds and smells and at the same time, it's also very modern.  Not to mention that it always feels like springtime here - the weather is perfect for me.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Back to Xi'an!

Waiting Room 8 at Beijing West Railway Station.  A sea of humanity waiting to board the train to Xi'an!

Today, I made my third trip back to Xi'an and like my first trip here, I arrived by train though this time it was by high speed train from Beijing.

A Day With Yim.

Today is Bro's and Yim's birthday so Happy Birthday to both of them!  My plan is for us to celebrate with a roast duck dinner tonight but that will depend on whether or not everyone is in the mood to go out for dinner.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Great Wall or Bust! Okay, It's a Bust.

See those humps at the top of the mountain.  Those are two of the turrets of Jinshangling.  That's all I saw of the Great Wall today! 😒

Our day of sightseeing started out on the wrong foot when the guide called in sick and the weather turned crappy on us. Not to mention the fact that the driver showed up so early we weren't ready to leave the apartment.

Changling Tomb.

The best thing about today was that Yim finally arrived. Our group of four is now complete and we're all excited about the trip ahead of us. The worst thing about today was that the sightseeing tour, which included a hike up and down the Simitai section of the Great Wall, that I had signed us all up for was a a major disappointment and the bad weather had a large part to do with that.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Wangfujing Snack Street.

Scorpions on a stick.  Do you dare try one?

Beijing has a fair number of night markets where you can come and sample all sorts of tasty, okay maybe not tasty for everybody, delights.

On my 2009 visit, our tour guide brought us here so we could experience the night market and sample of the unique food offerings - roasted scorpions anyone?

Lama Temple.

After spending a couple of hours walking around the Temple of Heaven, we made our way by metro to the Lama Temple.  The last time I came to the temple, I arrived by foot and from a different direction so when we exited the station, I wasn't sure where the temple was in relation to where we were standing.  As I looked around, I noted the tiled roofs of buildings peeking over a large wall.  My bet was that was the temple complex.

Temple of Heaven.

After our failed attempt to visit the Forbidden City because it's designated as a museum and today is Monday which is the de facto day of the week that museums are typically closed, we decided to head to the Temple of Heaven.

Forbidden City or Bust!

You can probably already guess from the photo that opens up this posting whether or not we made it to the Forbidden City, the highlight destination on our sightseeing itinerary today, which was an ambitious one - Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, National Museum of China, Temple of Heaven, and Niujie Mosque.

Sunday, April 1, 2018


It's been almost 9 years since my first visit to Beijing. On that trip, we covered a lot of sightseeing ground but I was more than happy to revisit many of those places as this time around, we will be exploring at our own pace so I hope I will see things that I missed the first time around.