Tag Archives: attractions in Xi’an

Visiting the Qinling Zoological Park

During the trips to China we have visited few places there. However those places were always nearby Xi’an as my dear wife turn into a role model couch potato once she arrives in her parents apartment. Usually the only means to get her away from the beloved sofa and TV are either restaurants or animals. In this case animals worked as we manged to even go twice to the Qinling Zoological Park.

The Park itself is roughly 28km away from Xi’an and is located, as the name suggests, at the starting point of the Qinling Mountain Range. The Park is advertising to have more than 300 animal species including the Giant Panda! But more about it later on…

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It was pretty exciting for me there the first time as I just love good Zoo’s. This one even offered some kind of safari tour in which you sit in the back of a truck with metal bars around to be protected against more dangerous animals. Of course I wanted this tour as I never had experienced something like that before.

At the beginning of the Zoo is even a little theme park. My in-laws offered that we go there however it didn’t look too safe in my opinion and I was pretty much right about it. Why you may ask well, a couple of years later there was an accident at the theme park with three people injured. Of course this could happen in any theme park but when I see that the amusement rides are full of rust and some parts fell already off I just don’t really have the urge to try it out myself.

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Right after you enter the Zoo the different trucks wait for paying visitors to take the little safari tour. Needless to say that MIL was the first at the different trucks trying to get few spots for us as well. Though the whole tour is interesting I must say that the truck just drives too quickly through the different sections resulting that you don’t have time to watch the animals nor take proper pictures. For me the beginning of the tour with the giraffes, zebras, camels and so on was much more interesting than the later part with the dangerous wolves, lion and tigers as those were always sleeping some distance away in the shadows. The safari area is enclosed and each part is separated from each other by double gates to prevent animals to get out or people to get in. This on the other hand didn’t stop in 2010 a father and his son to enter the tiger area…(when researching this in Chinese you find out that those two didn’t even had tickets for the Zoo and no one knows how they even could enter!)

After the safari tour you can start the normal tour and go around following the many paths. The map you get with the tickets give a nice overview where to find what animals as otherwise walking around the whole park surely takes nearly an entire day. Now we come back to the Giant Pandas. Everywhere is advertised that there are Pandas and not only I wanted to see them but the rest of my Chinese family as well. You can imagine our disappointment when there were no Pandas in the enclosure! Now, this could have been just coincidence, perhaps they were somewhere else on that day but no. When I was there a year later there were again no Pandas and reading several reviews it seems that barely anyone has ever seen them there.

Anyways the Zoo is huge so after a while we forgot again about the Pandas and were doing our round to see all kind of different animals. Some places looked even really nice such as the little lake with the different water birds. The Zoo has even a little water show with different kind of seals. Not only allowed it us to sit down for a while but after the show was done we had  the opportunity to take pictures together with one of the seals. I think MIL wanted to take the seal with her but FIL wouldn’t allow it…

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You know what? Even though I just love Zoo’s and this one has a huge variety of animals it is definitely not my favorite one. For one, everything appears to be in a bad condition as if nothing has been really maintained for years. All over the park you can see these kind of things. From rusted amusement rides for the children within the park (not the theme park in front of the Zoo) over dried out water areas to buildings with huge cracks and holes in the roofs! I haven’t been in any other zoo’s in China yet but I really hope this is not the norm. I mean this park has many positive reviews from Chinese but many bad ones from  foreigners.

I don’t want to say the park is bad as it offers a nice day trip away from the city however I would not recommend it as a main thing to see when visiting Xi’an as there are many other and better things to see. In case they would really start taking better care of the entire Zoo in terms of actually repairing broken things, make it look more inviting including improving the animals enclosures I will definitely go there again and perhaps then recommend it but not right now.

 

What are your experiences when visiting Zoo’s? Have you ever been in a Chinese Zoo?

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The Gao Family Mansion, Xi’an

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Xi’an has much to offer besides the main sites such as the Terracotta Warriors, the Small and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Beiyuanmen “Muslim Street” with the Great Mosque and numerous burial sites. Not every attraction is suitable for everyone so you got to choose what you really would like to see in case of a short visit as usually two or three days are just not enough to see much. And believe me, there is so much to see that it takes months just to visit all the places advertised in city guides and other sources.

During all my visits in Xi’an I have probably visited all major tourist spots and multiple locations which are more known to the locals. This resulted during my last visit that I felt kind of empty. I wanted to see more of the city but my wife had no motivation to just go through the streets, she wanted to visit only spots she hasn’t seen before. So I started my research on search engines for some place we haven’t visited yet and after a long day I found it; something called the Gao Family Mansion located in Beiyuanmen. Wait, what? Located at the Muslim street? I had been several times and never ever saw anything like this Mansion nor did my wife or her parents have any idea about it.

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One of the many rooms

Next day we headed to Beiyuanmen (just 5min walk from my parents-in-law’s home) in search of that building. We walked about and down there for around 30min with no luck until we saw a little tourist group going through an entrance between food vendors. We followed them and there it was, the place we had been searching for: The Gao Family Mansion

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As you can see, he did well with in his exams!

Now first some basic information about the Gao Family Mansion:

  • Built over 400 years ago during Ming Dynasty
  • stretched over 2.500sqm (~26,910square feet)
  • 86 rooms of which 56 or so are opened for public
  • Due to a Project of Sino-Norway Historical Districts Protection in 1999 it was completely repaired (Thanks Norway!)
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Lovely Myna Birds

I don’t remember the entrance fee anymore but it was very cheap. Inside the mansion you can spend some more money on a tea ceremony and a shadow puppetry show but we skipped those. I guess we walked around for nearly two hours there, going through the several rooms and floors (my wife loved the talking myna birds because of their compliments to her beauty and I was fascinated by the turtles).

I can only recommend a visit there, it is pretty much in the middle of Beiyuanmen, there is much to see for little money and most importantly it is very quiet there. As long as you don’t look up to the neighbouring buildings you can’t believe that you are actually in the center of bustling city with over 8 million inhabitants.

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Do you have found any wonderful places which are not heavily advertised in other cities?

Some more information of the Gao Family Mansion:

The China Guide

Horticultural Expo 2011

China Highlights

Sino Impressions