Posts Tagged With: xi’an

A 2,200-year-old stone army and more: a brief visit to Xi’an, China

20160527_132453-01Maybe you can’t take it with you, but Qin Shi Huang (QSH) sure tried. The first emperor of a unified China, QSH directed the construction of thousands of terracotta warriors, assembled to protect him in the afterlife. This stone army — consisting of not only soldiers but also horses and even chariots — was interred with him in a vast necropolis when he departed from the mortal world in 210 or 209 B.C.

Eventually the burial site was lost to history, and it remained no more than the stuff of legend for over two millennia. Then, in 1974, QSH’s terracotta protection force was serendipitously discovered by a group of farmers who were digging for a well in what is today the city of Xi’an. The archaeological site has become a museum complex where you can explore some of the massive pits that have been unearthed, and view the terracotta fighting units arrayed therein.

When I made my first voyage to China in May 2016, an excursion to Xi’an was on the agenda, principally so that I could view the terracotta army — although Xi’an is actually a city of nearly 9 million inhabitants that offers a variety of attractions. Because I was there for one main reason, I hadn’t alotted much time for the city, and consequently I didn’t see very much of Xi’an’s other points of interest. Here’a an account of my activities during my two night stay. Continue reading

Categories: Asia, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Ten things I’m looking forward to in 2016 (and a couple more that I’m hoping for)

42762094_sI think it’s fair to say that any year when you undergo heart surgery is a rough one. By that standard, 2015 was challenging for me. Not that the year was without its magical moments; seeing Angkor Wat and Mount Rushmore in person were certainly bucket list experiences, and after I recovered from my operation I increased the number of countries on my World Karaoke Tour to 39 by singing in Rome.

On a non-travel-related note, in July I moved to a new apartment — still in Manhattan, but in a much better building, with far superior management to the slumlords who own the apartment that I vacated, and in a nicer neighbourhood. My new residence provides me with more pleasant surroundings — a big plus, since on the vast majority of my days I’m not off globetrotting, but am hanging out in my home base of New York City where I work full-time as a lawyer.

Me at Mount Rushmore in July 2015.

Me at Mount Rushmore in July 2015.

So with my surgery 110 days in the past, 2015 is ending on a high note for me; and as the world prepares to begin using its 2016 calendars, I have heaps of exciting plans for the year ahead. Here are the things that I’m most looking forward to in the upcoming 366 days (remember, ’16 is a leap year!):

1. Charleston, South Carolina for New Year’s

Tomorrow I’ll be flying to Charleston, South Carolina; it’ll be my first-ever visit to this city in the southern U.S. that I’ve long sought to experience. In 2014, readers of Conde Naste Traveler magazine voted Charleston the no. 1 city in the U.S. to visit, and the no. 2 city in the world to visit. I look forward to finding out firsthand why Charleston makes such a spectacular impression on its visitors. While in town, I’ll be taking in historical sights as well as reconnecting with some old friends who reside in the area. And Charleston is where I’ll be ringing in the new year. Because this is a karaoke travel blog, I feel obligated to mention one more aspect of what’s in store for my sojourn in Charleston: either in the last days of 2015 or the very beginning of 2016, South Carolina will become the 21st U.S. state in which I’ve sung karaoke! (Technically, my tally will then stand at 20 U.S. states, plus the District of Columbia, which lacks statehood status. But I’m trying to keep things simple here. 🙂 )

Stock photo of some historic homes in Charleston, South Carolina.

Stock photo of some historic homes in Charleston, South Carolina — the city in which I’m going to start 2016!

Continue reading

Categories: Asia, Europe, travel, World Karaoke Tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Big trouble in little China

It’s time for a new installment in our recurring series on the seamy underside of the karaoke world. You know, karaoke is often thought of as an activity that brings families together. In that way, it’s a wholesome pursuit, not unlike fishing or visiting a national park. But in late August in the Chinese city of Xi’an, karaoke literally ripped a family asunder by subtracting two members from that family. I cannot possibly improve on the introductory sentence from this article that ran in Thursday’s edition of the British newspaper, The Independent: “A Chinese toddler’s refusal to give up the microphone during a family karaoke evening started a quarrel that left two men hacked to death with a meat cleaver.”

Friends, this story is a cautionary tale of why it’s so important to restrict entry in karaoke joints to folks who are of drinking age. Had a toddler (who, according to the article, was all of four years old) not been crooning his heart out in a Xi’anese karaoke bar, his two relatives who were hacked to death with a meat cleaver would still be alive today!

But let’s take a step back and figure out exactly what happened here. The Independent informs us that the carnage went down on Qixi, a holiday that we’re told is the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day (which would make last month’s events China’s answer to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre). The Independent does seem to have oversimplified in its description of Qixi. Translated as “Night of the Sevens,” Qixi is also sometimes known as the “Magpie Festival”; on the other hand, the sobriquet of the “Chinese Valentine’s Day” reflects an inaccurate understanding of the festival’s folktale origins. So apparently, Qixi is more about Heckle and Jeckle than heart-shaped candies. 🙂

To celebrate this year’s festival, a noodle shop owner, Mr. Yun, invited some kinfolk to a night at a karaoke parlour. Continue reading

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