This post is the first in a series: Click to read the introduction
“The Chinese culture belongs not only to the Chinese but also to the whole world.”—Hu Jintao
The two most important things to keep in mind when deciding where to spend your time and money for any vacation is your disposition (the makeup of You) and the intention of the trip.
Who you are—are you more of a dainty wallflower or do you tend to flex your muscles a tad more gregariously?
Your past experiences—are they composed largely of cerebral elements or do they recur with a 168 mg infusion of adrenaline?
Your motivations—are you in a rut, stuck like an insomniac on infomercials, wanting to ditch the tired drag of your shadow by expanding your perspective, or, are you bored with the slow pace of everyday life, the kind of person whose pleasure-measure thrives with exertion and apexes when life gets measured by miles and elevation gain instead of hours worked?
It doesn’t matter that everyone travels differently.
Regardless of who you are, what you want and need in a vacation, it’s difficult to find a reason not to travel to China—they’ve got ya covered.
History, Culture, Traditions, Oh My
I’ve always been drawn to the dusty— to those things that end up cobwebbed into corners or underneath the partially skeletal remains of abandoned cars in some of the most obscure and imaginative places (I grew up in the suburbs) you could imagine. Buried treasure, maps; relics that are cursed and curse; my grandparents’ cellar, which was always reliable with trinkets and wonders from another time, another space in what now seems like another dimension. So, naturally …
The Terracotta Warriors
Sculpted and buried more than 2,200 years ago, located in X’ien, unearthed 45 years ago, and certainly one of China’s most prized possessions, is a vast infantry of terracotta statues (sculptures made from a hard, brownish-red clay), still obediently attending to the task for which they were created—to protect, to serve.
When the first Emperor of China, Emperor Qin Shi Huang, first ascended the crown at just 13 years old, he commanded the building of the terracotta warriors. He believed they would protect and help him maintain his rule in the afterlife. There are more than 8,000 terracotta soldiers, which is astonishing, considering these two facts:
- Each individual statue can be clearly differentiated. The positions of limbs, garb and headgear, are unique. Even the fiddle-faddle of facial hair—no two are alike.
- Incredibly, the statues are built to scale. Heights vary from 5 feet 11 inches to as tall as 6 foot 7 inches.
Ironically, it took multiple armies of workers and nearly 40 years to create the silent brigade.
Just looking at photos of this massive piece of funerary art, you can practically smell the hardened desert-colored clay. It feels like stepping back in time.
I can only imagine what it would feel like to actually be there. But maybe I won’t have to.
You can view our China Cultural tour here, which features these fierce warriors!
However, there is truth in the idea that the best way to combat restlessness is less rest:
A cycling tour through the Yunnan Province, or hike through the craggy outback of Tiger Leaping Gorge, nearly twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.
Rise to the occasion and hike to the top of a peak to witness the delicate bounty of sunrise as it paints a snow-capped peak in the distance.
Whatever your bag is, it’s hard to say no to a country with more than 3,000 years of history. The treasures of culture, food and scenery; the sheer difference in lifestyle is enough to put China at the top of my destination list.
Tips from The Bottom: If you do end up on a sojourn through China, make sure to leave your Xbox at home—foreign gaming consoles are illegal.