01.02.2011 - 01.02.2011 0 °C
An unexpected bonus in Xi'an was the spectacular City Wall Lantern Festival, staged as part of the New Year celebrations. The Chinese do this sort of thing so well.
On my previous visit to Xi'an I hadn't really had time to explore the city wall. It is the most complete fortification in China, forming a 14km rectangle around the ancient city (what we would recognise as the current CBD). It's not immediately obvious how to get onto the city wall - or should I say, the most obvious method appears to be so fraught with danger that your brain dismisses it as a possibility before your conscious mind has an opportunity to consider it. But unfortunately, the realisation soon dawns that the only way to get to the entrance is to cross the insane traffic, with nothing but a zebra stripe on the road to protect you from inevitable death.
But it was worth having to deal with a bit of unexpected adrenalin for the opportunity to explore the lanterns, ranging from rabbits (obviously) to pandas (one panda was even disguised as a rabbit - or at least that's what I think was going on) to Chinese imperial and rural tableaux.
After having walked perhaps 4-5km admiring the lanterns, and just about at our lantern threshhold, we came upon an elderly Chinese man making zodiac lollipops with nothing more than a spoon and years of skill. He had a zodiac wheel beside him, so if you wanted one of his sugary creations the idea was that you spun the wheel and whatever it landed on, he either made it for you or gave it to you from his small stock on hand. Just 2RMB for the simplest butterfly* to the most intricate dragon. (*I realise that butterflies are not part of the Chinese zodiac; perhaps he just really enjoyed making them?!)