The road that lead to the caves of Maiji Shan is under construction (the construction work going on in China is just tremendous!!!) and it took a little longer to reach the most famous Buddhist rock carvings along the Silk Road. There are 221 caves, holding more than 7800 sculptures. They were carved and painted during the Wey and Zhou dynasties (AD 386-581). Most of the sculptures are made with clay. It’s better not to be afraid of the heights because you have to climb steep stairs, way above the ground. But the effort is widely recompensed. The art is absolutely beautiful and the hanging balconies give views to widespread hills covered with dense forests and a lot of walnut trees.
The next stretch was on the highway winding through green valleys with corn and wheat fields at reduced speed and our caravan managed to sneak at 40 instead of 60 in the many tunnels we had to pass.
Before arriving at Xi’an, we visited the tomb of the Han-dynasty emperor Jingdi (188-141BC) who was a social thinking emperor. There are more than 50’000 terracotta figurines which reveal more about daily life than martial preoccupations. We were the only visitors and arrived just in time. The manager had decided to close before the official closing time because nobody was there, but kept it open for us.
We reached our hotel entering the old part of Xi’an through the city wall and went for a walk at the Muslim food market behind the hotel before having a beer and a glass of wine at the hotel’s bar, the first and only bar we’ve seen so far in China. Today we left Gansu Province for Shanxi Province (陕西), and we changed from a hot and dry climate to a hot and humid climate. Also with 650m the altitude is much lower.