Why did Emperor Xian's flight from Chang'an take one year?

Why did Emperor Xian's flight from Chang'an take one year?

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During the end of the Han dynasty, the capital Luoyang fell under the control of the warlord Dong Zhuo who, fleeing a coalition of lords against him, burned it and moved the young Xian Emperor to Chang'an. After Lu Bu assassinated Dong, Chang'an fell under the control of the warlords Li Jue and Guo Si, who fought each other soon afterward. The emperor escaped and eventually reached the ruins of Luoyang. According to Chinese Wikipedia (and other sources), this trip took one year:




Later, Li and Guo fought each other, the people fell upon hard times, and the Xian Emperor fled Chang'an with a group of courtiers on July of the second year of Xingping (AD 195). On this trip, on multiple occasions they became the target of capture by Li Jue, Guo Si, Zhang Ji, Yang Feng and other warlords.

The Xian Emperor of Han and his courtiers finally reached the old capital of Luoyang after a year in July of the first year of Jian'an (AD 196).

Here's a map showing Chang'an and Luoyang; they are < 400km / 250miles apart:


Their itinary as per the Zizhi Tongjian 61 and 62:

July 195: The emperor departed Chang'an via the Xuanping Gate. After being briefly stopped by Guo Si's men (who retired when the emperor told them off), they arrived at Baling that night. Later, Guo Si wanted everyone to go to Gaoling, but the ministers and Zhang Ji thought Hongnong was more appropriate.

August 195: Travelled to Xinfeng. Guo Si repeatedly told the emperor he wanted him to return to Chang'an, but failing, he went with his troops to the southern mountains.

October 195: Guo Si's adherents Xia Yu and Gao Shuo tried to force the Emperor west. Yang Ding and Dong Cheng escorted the Emperor to Yang Feng's camp. Yang Ding and Yang Feng defeated Xia Yu and friends, and the emperor was able to move to Huayin.

November-December 195: The emperor reached Hongnong. Li Jue, Guo Si and Zhang Ji went in pursuit. There was a battle at Dongjian where the emperor's generals Dong Cheng and Yang Feng suffered a defeat, with many officials and soldiers killed. Dong Cheng and Yang Feng sent for assistance from the White Wave leaders Li Le, Han Xian and Hu Cai, as well as the Xiongnu "prince of the right" Qubei. Together, they defeated Li Jue and the others, killing thousands.

They resumed the journey east, with Dong Cheng and Li Yue accompanying the emperor while the rest served as a rearguard. Li Jue pursued and inflicted a defeat similar in scale to that at Dongjian. Amongst those killed or captured and executed were Minister of the Masses Zhao Wen and six of the Nine Ministers. The Huben ("Energetic Tiger") and Yulin ("Feathered Forest") imperial guards numbered fewer than 100 men after the defeat. The emperor crossed the Yellow River, losing more followers along the way.

The emperor reached Dayang, where Li Le had his camp. He then proceeded to Anyi in an oxcart. The prefect of Henei Zhang Yang was one of those who provided assistance. Later, he came from Yewang and suggested that the Emperor go to Luoyang, but as the Emperor's generals would not agree, Zhang Yang returned to Yewang.

January 196: Dong Cheng and Zhang Yang wanted the emperor to return to Luoyang, while Yang Feng and Li Le opposed.

February 196: Han Xian attacked Dong Cheng, who went to Yewang. Han Xian was stationed at Wenxi, while Hu Cai and Yang Feng were at Wuxiang. Hu Cai wanted to attack Han Xian but the emperor ordered him not to.

February-April 196: Zhang Yang sent Dong Cheng ahead to rebuild the palace in Luoyang (Dong Zhuo had sacked it in 189).

May 196: The emperor went to the camp of Yang Feng, Li Le and Han Xian, asking them to take him to Luoyang.

June 196: The emperor reached Wenxi. Later, Yang Feng and Han Xian sent the emperor east, with Zhang Yang providing provisions.

July 196: The Emperor reached Luoyang.

It is entirely possible.

  • The emperor did not travel alone: he had to travel with his eunuchs, empress, concubines, etc. Lots of women made their trip extremely slow.
  • All of China was infested by bandits, warlords, deserters and angry farmers. The emperor might need to hide for a while or even go back and forth in order to hide from danger. As you can read from your English translation above, the emperor was a target for a number of warlords. Warlords might have blocked the road or been fighting each other.
  • Their food supply was cut. No one was offering them any food or water, and this would make their trip very difficult as they might need to buy (if they had any money), exchange, or even beg for supplies.
  • They might have traveled to a totally different destination first, but changed their mind later.
  • This story was recorded long time after it had happened, so time-wise, it might have been a bit inaccurate. The historian might want to highlight how much hardship the emperor had to go through so he decided this trip took one year. Chinese history has been recorded not only based on facts but very often on the historian's personal political standing and view.

Chinese alchemical elixir poisoning

In Chinese alchemy, elixir poisoning refers to the toxic effects from elixirs of immortality that contained metals and minerals such as mercury and arsenic. The official Twenty-Four Histories record numerous Chinese emperors, nobles, and officials who died from taking elixirs in order to prolong their lifespans. The first emperor to die from elixir poisoning was likely Qin Shi Huang (d. 210 BCE) and the last was Yongzheng (d. 1735 AD). Despite common knowledge that immortality potions could be deadly, fangshi and Daoist alchemists continued the elixir-making practice for two millennia.

2. Battle. (Битва)

By the time Li Jue, Guo Si and their colleagues returned to Changan, Niu Fu was killed by his own troops. If Cswe and Guo si were offered their own ideas Wang Yun, but asked for Amnesty for its past actions, as they feared punishment for participation in Dong Zhuos mode. However, when the new Governor refused, they took the advice of Jia Xu and decided to storm the capital, to seize control of the Imperial government and to save themselves. In the battle of Changan 192 on 28 June, Li Cswe and Guo si drove Lu BU to flee, killed officials and civilians, and captured Wang Yun, who was executed a few days.


This drama is a much-needed drama with a sweet romance to compensate the angst in the recently aired Love and Redemption, and numerous other open-ended dramas. It has a super handsome new actor who is making his debut and it is also one of the many cross-dressing dramas released lately. The story is semi-serious with cute and funny moments littered throughout. The pace is good and the storyline is not complex. It is certainly a very relaxing watch.

This is a story about palace power struggle. Right from the start, the antagonist is already made known to the viewers. Though unknown for the protagonists with no concrete proofs that all the mysteries and crimes they’re trying to solve are linked to the antagonist, nonetheless, the eventual outcome does not surprise them.

The Prince of Qi (Zhang Ling He) is a wandering prince who holds no political power. He has a great relationship with his younger brother who is the Emperor, but a nemesis of his uncle who wants the throne. He disguises as a wealthy aristocrat as Pei Zhao and frequents the brothels. There he meets and falls in love with Su Ci (Sebrina Chen) who disguises as a man working as a high-level investigator. Pei Zhao is patient, forgiving, condoning and protective towards Su Ci. He is strategic and very intelligent. Su Ci is upright, unbiased and detailed which makes her a great investigator. Together with their friends, a medical genius, a skilled sword man and the best cook, they make an ideal team with enviable friendship. Right from episode 1, Pei Zhao and Su Ci begin to work hand in hand, literally, solving crimes and unfolding a bigger conspiracy. They’ve never been separated since, everywhere they go, they go together and everything they do, they do it together. It is really very comforting to see they are always at each other’s side and trusting each other. Any misunderstanding is resolved almost as soon as it arises because they are being very honest to each other it is indeed very heart-warming to see the couple holding hands all the time.

I’m delighted with Zhang Ling He’s portrayal of Pei Zhao/Prince of Qi. This is his first drama but his performance is beyond my expectation, far more convincing than many other more experienced actors. He has a very handsome face and a well built body. Acting as a flamboyant playboy and later as a devoted lover, Zhang Ling He’s performance is believable and lovable. I cannot help myself but looking at his handsome face all the time.

Su Ci has a calling – to find out what had happened seven years ago when her whole tribe was massacred, leaving her the lone survivor. Her investigative prowess helps her unravel the conspiracy and eventually bring justice for her tribe. Sebrina Chen has cross-dressed in several other dramas and she is very convincing, dressing as a man. Having a matter-of-factly demeanor, Sebrina Chen’s portrayal is authentic and wonderful.

The second couple is perhaps the cutest and sweetest side couple. Their love for each other is unmistakable and they help solve many crimes together. The other cast members are both good looking and wonderful in their respective roles. The ending is concluded properly with justice served - the good is being rewarded and the bad is being punished, and the lovers are happily ever after.

This is indeed a very enjoyable drama not to be missed.

Excellent Acting and Production

This is the true story of the mother of China's First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. How close this story to the real events happened more than 2,000 years ago is anybody's guess. However, many of the main characters in the story were actual people during that time. Since this is a true story, the "real romance" parts are limited. So if you are a romance buff, you may likely be disappointed.

This drama depicted the arduous journey Hao Lan had gone to survive the various palace politics, scheming, back stabbing, both in the Zhao palace (where she was from) and Qin palace (where she was married to). She helped her son become the King of Qin, who ultimately became the First Emperor of China, unifying the various kingdoms.
The cinematography of this drama is epic, the acting is excellent, and the story is exciting. One can tell that the director and his crew put in a lot of effort into making this drama. Every detail was taken care of. Everything was done close to perfection.

I love the color palette of the scenes, especially the costumes, the interior designs and decors, and the gardens. I find myself binge watching a lot. However, having said that, I find the palace politics overwhelming, and at times, I could get pretty exhausted.

This is a serious, no nonsense drama. It can get quite dry for some people who are not into history. For me, I love history and I am especially intrigued by Chinese history.

Most Endearing Drama of All Time

This is one of the very few dramas that explores our human nature, our interpersonal relationship and its intricacies, in great depth. It is happy and enjoyable, and yet every episode makes me cry. I cry not because of any tragic events but because of the moments, the actions, the relationships and dialogues of the characters that are so moving, and they touch every chord in my heart. Right after I cry, I’m given a candy that makes me laugh out loud. The brilliant story telling has made this one of the best dramas I’ve ever watched.

This is a story about family and what it takes to be a family – not wealth, not blood, not even just love alone. It takes, including love, patience, sharing, compassion, understanding, empathy, courage, among others, to build a truly tightly knitted family and home, going through life and living together. It is beautifully written and acted. The characters are realistic, relatable and inspiring. In the journey, the story explores compassion and indifference, self-esteem and fear, abandonment and adoption, cheerfulness and depression. It shows us the things we may have neglected in our own lives ourselves and things that we have taken for granted. It helps us see deeper into ourselves and reflect. It captures almost all human elements that we may have encountered, one way or another, in our own lives. We can definitely identify ourselves with at least one of the characters here.

Go Ahead is a story about a widower who single-handedly raises his own daughter and two other boys who are entrusted to him. All of them have one thing in common: they do not have mothers. The children grow up together the boys become the big brothers for his daughter, pampering and protecting her. She is their sun and the center of their universe. Everything they do, they do it together, and they do it for her (with a lesser extent, for their adoptive father). Their relationship is heartwarming and enviable. Their love for each other is pure and not tainted by anything.

Li Haichao (Tu Song Yan), an owner of a small noodle shop, has a very different view in parenting. He is very open minded and compassionate. He teaches the children to critical think for themselves, and how to stand up when fallen. His love is unconditional and his favorite thing to do is to cook meals for his 3 children. Tu Song Yan’s acting is one of the best – natural, believable and lovable. He has a calm and compassionate demeanor that would attract anyone, never assuming nor judgmental. He’s one of the most loved characters in the story.

Li Jianjian (Tan Song Yun aka Seven Tan) is a tomboy who enjoys the love and pampering from her 2 adopted brothers, growing up and doing everything together with them including sleeping on the same bed. Li Jianjian, like her father Li Haichao, is kind, tactful and compassionate with a sharp wit and mouth. The period of them living together as teenagers attending high school is perhaps my fondest moments watching this drama. Tan Song Yun’s acting renders me speechless. She is so versatile that she can take on any roles and ace them. At her actual age of 30, she is so convincing, transforming into an innocent 15 year-old teenager and then growing up into a 25 year-old sculptor. Tan Song Yun’s acting simply awes the viewers.

Ling Xiao (Song Weilong) is a deeply broken and tormented boy who goes through unthinkable tragedies and sadness. The only times he beams up and smiles are when he sees Li Jianjian, that's when the sun comes out, everything seems to become normal again. Ling Xiao is a neighbor living with a divorced father above Li Jianjian’s apartment. Song Weilong always has that look of sadness with a heavy burden locked between his brows. With few words, he gives the feeling that he has thousands words that are hidden and cannot be spoken. Song Weilong fits the Ling Xiao character to perfection. Every sad gaze from him conveys those unspoken words and sadness, and digs deep into the viewers’ hearts.

He Ziqiu (Zhang Xincheng aka Steven Zhang) starts calling Li Haichao “father” when he first meets him because he (He Ziqiu) thinks his single mother is going to marry him (Li Haichao). The marriage falls through and He Ziqiu is left in the rural area with no proper education and no prospect of a better life. He’s unofficially adopted by Li Haichao with the consent of Ziqiu’s relatives. Being abandoned, He Ziqiu always has a hole in his heart, and he has always wanted a complete family. At the same time, he’s been taught by his adoptive father to maintain a positive view as everything is a blessing in disguise. This attitude has made him resilient and optimistic. Zhang Xincheng has the look of a person who would take anything that’s thrown to him and he’s the person who gets ignored all the time. Zhang Xincheng has given one of his most impressive performance in this drama, making his character well-loved and jerk tears from all viewers.

Chen Ting (Ling Xiao’s mother) is perhaps the most abhorred mother. As much as I’m tormented by her, I sympathize with her because I have seen many such characters like her in my life, carrying a dark disease that is too stigmatized for anyone to talk about. Mingyue’s mother is a typical Asian Tiger mother and many viewers may carry some or all of her traits she can be us without us even realizing it ourselves. I see myself in many of the characters at different stages of my life all my flaws are portrayed vividly in them. It’s disheartening to see that many parents are abusive in certain ways, physically or mentally, just like how the drama is depicting. Such abuses are unfortunately widespread, in particular, in the developed world.

Most parents love their children. But love can be enlightening (as in Li Haichao with his children) or suffocating (as in Ling Xiao with his mother, Qi Mingyue with her mother, Tan Can with her mother) or even painful (as in He Ziqiu with his mother). This is a very precious human drama and the writers have not dragged on any misunderstanding for long everything is resolved rather quickly without giving viewers the frustration. Funny moments are injected brilliantly throughout the story to subdue the pains that some of the characters are suffering from.

All the other cast members are equally fabulous in their respective performances, especially the child actors who play the juveniles Li Jianjian, Ling Xiao and He Ziqiu. Their acting is so natural, lovable and believable. The children capture the viewers’ hearts from the start of the first episode. All the main characters are well developed and three dimensional, including some of the supporting characters who seem to be just a part of our own lives.

Many viewers begin to dislike the drama when the platonic relationship turns romantic. For me, I love the romance and have been waiting for it because the writers have hinted this (the romance) right from the beginning, expressed in many subtle actions, dialogues and moments. Some viewers even totally drop the drama when they perceive a love triangle. And for me, I was pretty clear that there's none because, again through various hints dropped by the writers that the other relationship is plain platonic. I hope new viewers are more prepared and not being influenced by some negative remarks.

The official sound tracks are some of the best, with touching lyrics speaking out the words of our hearts - for parent and for child alike. The voice which sings the sound track “Fearless” sounds like the voice of Ling Xiao, singing his despairs and agony, and the soundtrack “I Will Be Here” expresses the hidden voice of a parent. All the songs make me cry.

Time passes us quickly. We grow up, become parents, and grow old, and the circle of life continues. This drama touches our soul, for all cultures and walks of life.

This is one of my all-time favorites and is a must-watch. Two thumbs up!

How to survive as a woman in an aristocratic household

The first reaction for most viewers is, “So many wives and concubines!” Many simply cannot tolerate such polygamous relationship and drop the drama. This is rather unfortunate because in real life, polygamy was the norm in ancient Chinese society. Therefore, this story has realistically portrayed life in wealthy and aristocratic households, and captured the suppression, and relentless in-fighting and conniving among wives and concubines in the harem, and interfamily feuds among various clans.

My alternative title could have been "How to survive Confucianism as a woman". As Confucianism was widely practiced during the Ming Dynasty when this story is set, self-restraint was valued highly as individuals endured all things, good or bad, thrown at them without retaliating. It’s indeed hard for modern viewers to empathize with such value which was then considered as virtue. Women were suppressed, and were born to serve the men – fathers when they were unmarried, husbands when married, and sons when they became mothers.

When Luo Shi Yi Niang (Tan Song Yun aka Seven Tan) is forced into an arranged marriage to Xu Ling Yi (Chung Hon Leung aka Wallace Chung) to "replace" her deceased older sister, she has attempted to run away. Circumstances prevent her from doing so. As she thinks she would never fall in love with a man who has multiple spouses, she falls in love with him because indeed he’s a very decent man who treats her well and loves her above everything else.

Tan Song Yun is one of my favorite actors. She can be a very convincing teenager and I love most of her other dramas. I like her too in this drama, but somehow, I have a hard time in fitting her into the story, either because of her aura or something else. Perhaps for me, I can’t see her playing a meek role here, submitting to her fate I have always seen her playing characters that don’t conform and always hit back when pushed.

Xu Ling Yi is a good government official bound by tradition and duty, and has a heavy burden on his shoulder in holding up his large household as well as performing his duties as an upright incorruptible bureaucrat who loves his country and loyal to the Emperor. Chung Hon Leung has a natural stiff upper lip and fits well into the filial pious Xu Ling Yi character who speaks few words and never shows his emotions. His portrayal is good and convincing. Filial piety as virtuous as it is, can also quickly become an impediment to progress, critical and rational thinking. And here, he’s made to take in multiple concubines by his mother, the Matriarch, in order to propagate, only to add on more heartaches and hatred within the household.

As much as the story wants to portray a suppressed society, it also tries to placate viewers who would have preferred a more just world with love and retribution, hence here we are given a true love, one-man-one-woman story for an ending which may feel a bit banal.

My Verdict
Overall this is quite a realistic story - no love at first sight, no firework romance, both the ML & FL are intelligent and mature with same family values built on love and trust. There is fighting but no wuxia, a lot of conflicts in almost every household (realistic aristocratic family portrayal of the era) and in politics (true historical event of banning of sea trade that had led to hardship and piracy), strong Confucius values and philosophy permeate daily life. The actual story (plot) is nothing to be excited about, but the portrayal of life during the Ming Dynasty under Confucianism, the shooting (camera work), screen writing, costumes and editing are quite good, hence my 9/10 rating. I have rather enjoyed this drama.

The Funniest Narcissistic Idiotic Moron Ever

This is one of the funniest dramas I’ve ever watched. At the beginning, I found it comedic and thought I wouldn’t like it. After the first episode, I couldn’t stop watching and laughing because it’s so hilarious. The narcissism is idiotic but at the same time so so cute.

Mu Jue Chen (Fiction Guo) is a narcissistic youth who is so absorbed into himself that whatever negatives would become positives in his mind. Everyone around him brushes his ego but rolls their eyes and curses him behind his back. All his actions and demeanor are bombastic and egregious. This drama has the most eye rolls and the Mu Jue Chen character is the most egoistic person that I’ve ever come across and it’s super funny. I must applaud Fiction Guo for his amazing acting as Mu Jue Chen. I have almost believed that Mu Jue Chen is Fiction Guo because the actor has really immersed himself into the character totally.

Qian Yu (Li Nuo) is the only person who knows Mu Jue Chen inside out she knows all his strengths and weaknesses, and knows how to capitalize on this knowledge to her advantage. Though seemingly a lord and servant relationship, there is more to the relationship that is not revealed at the beginning. Li Nuo plays her character well as a submissive servant and then later as a powerful head of the valley.

By Episode 10, the plot thickens. There are hidden mysteries. Who is Qian Yu? What has happened in their childhood? Why is Mu Jue Chen so protective of her? All these questions drive the plot. The tone turns serious at times (only when Mu Jue Chen is not around - it's almost impossible to be serious with him around) with beautiful sword fighting and “qing qong”.

Everything is exaggerated out of proportion and the CGI is really bad, but together, the whole thing is simply hilarious and adorable. A lot of the dialogues are unexpected and many scenes are out of expectation. I almost choked when they start to play the tune of The Flight of the Bumble Bee. They have also used EDM (electronic dance music) as background music extensively, so much so that I have to roll my eyes too. There are a few dark humors here and there. Though they banter and fight all the time, the lead characters’ chemistry is wonderful.

I love the use of oxymoron phrases here, such as, “Don’t let my face lose face”. There is also frequent play with pronunciation of Chinese words, e.g. the character 恶 (e). Depending how one says it, it can mean different things - fierce or loathsome. Therefore, non-native Mandarin speakers may not appreciate such humors.

There are of course the typical tropes such as falling off cliff and memory loss stuff. Overall, if you want a drama to laugh and take away some stress, this is the one. I’m loving it!

Great Plot, Steamy Romance, Intelligent Jokes

This is one of the most endearing and light-hearted historical dramas of 2020. I almost missed it because of its cheesy title. But within the first episode, I was totally sold because of the outrageous jokes they use with the playing of an accent that leads to a misunderstanding of a mission. The misunderstanding is hilarious and adorable.

The Story
Xiong Xiruo (Xi Zi) is a comic book artist. Her favorite subject is the legendary tale of Duke Li and the inhabitants of the Li mansion. Duke Li has 2 sons. The oldest son is a fearsome general who wins in every battle and is nicknamed God of War. The second son is a flamboyant artist who lives a free lifestyle outside of the mansion. Duke Li also has an older brother who is a kept hostage living in the Song mansion and a baby brother who is younger than his own sons. Because Xiong Xiruo’s depiction of the Li family is such outrageously slanderous, she’s being hunted down by Li Hongbin (Xia Ningjun), Duke Li’s oldest son.

Xiong Xiruo, apart from being a genius artist, she also has an eidetic memory she has the ability to remember every detail of anything she sees. For this skill, she is being commissioned to sneak into the Li mansion to draw the four luó hàn (luó hàn are monks in the Shaolin Temple). However, due to the strong regional accent of her commissioner, Xiong Xiruo mistakes the terms luó hàn to be luǒ hàn which have the same homophone (but totally different meaning) of naked men in Xiong Xiruo’s mind, she thinks she’s been commissioned to draw four naked men for a whopping 2,000 coins. The scenario unfolds thereafter is hilarious as one can imagine.

Li Hongbin is fearsome and Xiong Xiruo is fearful of him. His favorite line is always, “Death by the paddles”. Trying to avoid being killed, Xiong Xirou feigns her pregnancy and forces Li Hongbin to marry her. To escape an unwanted marriage to another woman, Li Hongbin agrees. Out of his expectation, he falls head over heels in love with Xiong Xirou and cannot let her go despite of her lowly background.

The Acting
Both main actors Xi Zi and Xia Ningjun are new to me and I love them both. As Xiong Xiruo, Xi Zi is adorable with her big round eyes, button nose and pouting lips. Not extremely elegant and sophisticated looking as other actors, Xi Zi brings in an air of unpretentiousness and endearment. Running with her hands swinging in the air and cross-dressing as a boy, she is refreshing. I just love watching her teasing Li Hongbin and get him agree to her demands. Fast witted and crafty, Xiong Xiruo always manages to come up with all kinds of crazy stories to get herself out of her predicaments. This is Xi Zi’s first drama taking a main female lead role and she has done a great job.

As Li Hongbin, Xia Ningjun is extremely good looking with a cold heart. He has no interest in any women. All he wants is to protect the country and his territory. Xiong Xiruo is frightened of him and calls him a big monster. However, when he falls head over heels in love with her, he becomes the most loving and protective man any women could ever ask for. As a relatively new actor, Xia Ningjun’s performance is convincing and very enjoyable.

My Verdict
This is one of my most enjoyable series as it is delightful and refreshing. The viewers can see the love of the OTP develop over time slowly. Apart from the initial faked pregnancy which is quickly and voluntarily revealed to Li Hongbin, there’s hardly any more deceits or misunderstandings between Xiong Xiruo and Li Hongbin thereafter. Their chemistry together is unmistakable their bonding and love for each other are strong. There is no complicated familial relationship such as step children or concubines. Both parents are wise and loving Duke Li is deep but always humble and kind. All he wants is a harmonious family which is an overarching philosophy passed down for generations for the Li family. At the end of the drama, all the antagonists get their deserving punishments. There is no lazy writing off any characters for a quick ending. Despite there may be some simple inconsistent logic and flaws here and there, this is still a very enjoyable drama for all ages. Don’t miss it!

What an emotionally tormenting drama! Great acting!

If I were to describe this drama in one word, it would be "INTENSE" in the simplest form, it would be BITTER, BITTER, BITTER, sweet, BITTER, BITTER, BITTER, sweet - with capitals being strong and lower case being weak. It feels as if after the bitterness and one is given a lollipop, before one can take a second lick of the candy, it's taken away.

This is a "heavy" drama in every sense. Every episode is packed full with actions, plots, plots within plots, palace politics, murders, corruption, greed, power, fears, injustices, conspiracies, wars, fights, killings and more. The ugliness of human nature is vividly displayed and it has never receded over the hundred of years to these days. The writers and directors bring out all the ugliness of how power and wealth can corrupt a person, and the story is amazingly told in this wonderful drama. It is indeed disheartening for us to realize that we're still constantly repeating history over and over again, and we never learn.

The drama itself is serious and nerve wrecking. Every life is always on the line. Everyone tries to outwit another, and losers die. All the events are multi layers.

The events unfolding can be difficult to understand particularly if there are no English subtitles and the viewer not a native Mandarin speaker because everything moves fast and the plots are intricate and complicated. At times, I'd need to take a break away from this drama to get a breather because there is just too much information one has to absorb within an episode.

As Crown Prince, every move Xiao Ding Quan makes is always undermined by unseen forces. Injustices and luck always deal him a lower hand. What seemingly works out great for him would turn out bad in a twist. Danger lurks in every corner. Lu Wen Xi's fate doesn't fare any better. She's constantly wrongly accused and persecuted her loss and pain are immeasurable. Her tormented undying devotion for the crown prince is heart-breaking. In every episode, I'd have to hold my breath - it's really that intense. The unfair treatments both characters face and endure makes the viewers sympathize with them and demand justice to be served.

The acting is impeccable. Both Luo Jin and Li Yitong are excellent actors. They effortlessly capture all the essence of their characters and play them flawlessly. I'm particularly impressed by Li Yitong in this drama. I love her bare face look with natural make-up. She's so beautiful.

Have I mentioned the romance part? It's painful and bittersweet. I also love the relationship Xiao Ding Quan has with his older cousin, Gu Feng'en. My only comment here is just the visual aspect of the actors and their characters - Luo Jin (38 yr) is obviously a lot older than Zheng Ye Cheng (26 yr) who plays an older role. Playing a youth of 20 as the crown prince, Luo Jin seems to have overstretched a little bit. The age gap is too large and this has given me a mismatched feeling, as least visually. Nonetheless, it hasn't hampered the amazing work of this drama.

I almost missed the epilogue had I not completed playing the ending OST in the last episode. In it (the epilogue), it reveals who Xu Chang Nian is. Before this, I had always wondered which side he's on.

I would fully recommend this drama to anyone who loves Chinese historical stories and can endure mental torments. In terms of acting and plots, this drama is a true gem.

The 'A' Team | Mission Impossible Theme

When I first read the title, I thought it was some youthful drama full of modern vibes and silliness, so I didn't give it much attention. How wrong I was! Normally, it takes me 1 or 2 episodes to get acquainted with a drama and the actors. But with this drama, my attention is immediately captured.

I love the acting of all the characters - each has his/her own flaws, and greatness. They also have their own stories and aspirations. How they come together to work as a team eventually to beat the evil doers and to bring good to the country is something that is inspirational and heart-warming. The actors are good and play their roles convincingly.

This drama is out of my expectation! It is serious, and yet humorous with great taste. There are some lighthearted moments, but they are not from the story itself rather, they are from the playfulness of the main male character, Yuan Zhongxin, and the dumbness of Wei Ya Nei.

The story starts with a lot of twists and turns evolving around Yuan Zhongxin it becomes difficult to discern his orientation and loyalty initially. And that's exactly the reason that captures my interest. He is my most loved character - honorable, upstanding, wily, street smart, intelligent, and mischievous. He stands behind his friends and family fully, and one can be assured that with him, things will be taken care of. I also love the character Wei Ya Nei played by Bruce He. He is spoiled, dumb and silly, and yet he is honorable and funny. Bruce He is so convincing that I begin to love him. My other favorite character would be Zhao Jian who is a badass girl, beautiful, smart, decisive and skillful in fighting. She is a natural leader that makes me feel good watching this drama. The other characters are equally lovable and impressive. Together, they make the 'A' team, fighting and solving espionage cases.

The story is fast paced. Viewers can brace for something to happen in every scene. Sometimes, it's hard to discern what is true or false, what is black or white, what is right or wrong. Every time when something seems to be bad, becomes good, and vice versa. There are twists and turns till the end of the story.

The fighting scenes are wonderful with beautiful choreography the young actors are convincing and good looking the setting of Northern Song is authentic and believable the politics, espionage and scheming are cliff hangers and page turners.

This is a really good drama. It is highly recommended.

Sherlock Holmes, Criminal Minds, Forensic Files - All in One

What an interesting drama this is. All the main leads are new to me, so I watched it not for them. After the first episode, I realized it's a love triangle. Normally in other dramas, love triangles usually give weaker or less liked 3rd characters. In this case, it's hard not to like either of the main male characters. In fact I was pretty torn in the beginning because I found both male characters desirable and attractive in their own ways.

This drama is a combination of Sherlock Holmes with Criminal Minds and Forensic Files. As a forensic expert, Ran Yan (played by Zhou Jie Qiong) is a daring, unpretentious girl who is always determined to find the truth. Unlike most girls of her time, she has no qualm touching dead bodies and slicing them up. Even the men around her are sickened by the sights and many cannot even stay on. I love this character so much. Though she has flaws, she is courageous, kind and upstanding, without the annoying noisiness and self-righteousness of many main female characters in other dramas.

When Ran Yan first meets the man who has saved her and falls in love with him, I fell in love with the man she loves too. Su Fu (played by Tim Pei) is cold and mysterious. How his cold heart is eventually melted by Ran Yan's warmth and kindness, and in the end falling madly in love with her is really a fun journey to watch.

Of course the main story revolves around the two main characters, Ran Yan and Xiao Song (played by Toby Lee). I absolutely love the dynamics between them, how they toy with each other and hang each other out to dry. The constant bickering and bargaining are really fun to watch. Each gives the other nickname that becomes part of the character Xiao Song calls Ran Yan, "Fox", whereas Ran Yan calls him, "Human Fish". The addressing seems to stick for each other till the end of the show. I love watching the look on Xiao Song's face when he's seething with jealousy over Su Fu. Seeing how a powerful figure of his stature fighting for the love of a woman and getting jealous over her is very amusing, and Toby Lee has performed this role perfectly with his piercing eyes. Together with Ran Yan, they work as one, melting two minds together. They reconstruct crime scenes, figure out motives of killings, put the jigsaw puzzles together their chemistry is simply enviable. Though there were some misunderstandings between the two, it's quickly dispelled without making the pair losing their love and care for each other.

Overall, this drama improves significantly after the first half. I didn't find major plot holes and significant flaws apart from some of the poor acting by peripheral characters like over exaggerated death scenes, obvious fake props (supposedly solid stone door that shifts when forced against), etc. Editing could be rough for some episodes. As for most Chinese dramas, the attention to details is still lacking. I wish the production team treats viewers with more intelligence. All this poor editing leaves tons of errors for all to see. Some logic is really bad and makes one rolls one's eyes.

Having said that, the acting of the three main leads is very good, despite this is the first major drama for Zhou Jie Qiong. Her performance is marvelous. The details of scenes that required further explanations are cleverly done in black/white flashbacks without breaking the flow of the story. It makes the story very easy to understand and follow. The twists and turns make the whole thing interesting and compel me to follow it faithfully for weeks.

Yes, a great drama to watch. Don't miss this one!

Torments, Melancholy & Emotional Turmoil For The Promise of Forever Peace

Accordingly, the Promise of Chang’an is a remake of the 2002 drama The Epic of Xiao Zhuang which was set in the Qing Dynasty. In the earlier drama, Empress Dowager Xiao Zhuang was in love with a general but forced to marry the general’s brother instead. Her son subsequently succeeded the throne and she continued to help her grandson who later came to be known as the Kangxi Emperor. The Promise of Chang’an draws many parallels from the earlier drama, with the setting in a fictional kingdom and era.

As I was pondering the title The Promise of Chang'an, I came to the realization that it has not meant the city Chang'an but its literal meaning as "forever peace" because the city Chang'an has not been a main feature of this drama except a by-passing event when Xiao Chengxu seizes the city. The literal meaning of "forever peace" makes more sense in this context: The Promise of Forever Peace which is the epitome of all the sacrifices Helan Mingyu and Xiao Chengxu have contributed throughout the story. They have sacrificed their whole life in order to achieve peace for the country. The brilliant use of "chang an" here by the writer is applaudable.

This drama is not for the faint of heart. I love historical stories based on real life characters and yet I still find this story depressing as it continues to give the viewers the sense of hopelessness and helplessness. The author has successfully captured all the pains in life as described in the Buddhist seven bitterness: birth, old age, sickness, death, hatred, separation, and yearning. This is a story with convoluted plot, layered storyline, and multi-dimensional characters. Our main characters go through despairs episodes after episodes.

The Promise of Chang’an was made prior to Love and Redemption but only aired after the latter. Therefore, upon completion of Love and Redemption, many viewers (like myself) have come to watch this drama for Cheng Yi, and sure enough, his torments and crying continue. Every episode of this drama is beautifully written and acted, but extremely painful to watch because of the torments our characters have to endure.

The Story
A young princess Helan Mingyu (Zhao Yingjuan) from the northern kingdom meets the young 9th prince, Xiao Chengxu (Cheng Yi) of the Sheng Kingdom, and they fall in love with each other. Hoping to make a name for himself and return to marry Helan Mingyu, Xiao Chengxu goes off to war. Little does he know his brothers want him dead in battle they set him up to be killed. When news arrives that he’s dead, Helan Mingyu is devastated. At the same time, the Sheng King Xiao Chengrui who is Xiao Chengxu’s older brother, asks for her hand. Out of no choice, she agrees. When Xiao Chengxu makes it back, she’s already become his sister-in-law. Since then for years, the duo endures the pain of lost love, each walking on thin ice every day. The torment is so great that, even as viewers, it is unbearable.

When Xiao Chengxu finds out the truth about the death of his mother and the will of his late father appointing him the heir but stolen from him, he vows revenge and to take back what is rightfully his – the throne and his love. However, time and time, his schemes fail due to various reasons, and he’s saved by Helan Mingyu from death again and again. Deeply, their love for each other never wanes. Things become even more complicated when Helan Mingyu gives birth to the child of Xiao Chengrui who is now the Emperor. When the Emperor dies, he passes the throne to Mingyu’s 6 years old son, Xiao Qiyuan and Xiao Chengxu becomes the regent.

Xiao Chengxu tries to treat Xiao Qiyuan as his own son and groom him to be a wise emperor, but the results are not what he has expected the little emperor is spoilt rotten by the two dowager empresses and becomes a bratty tyrant. At the turn of events when dethroning his nephew the tyrannical emperor becomes impossible as Mingyu constantly protects her son and plays Xiao Chengxu out, the death of his little brother and friend, Xiao Chengxu loses all hope to continue living.

At this point, most viewers are disgusted by Helan Mingyu’s actions and how she has treated Xiao Chengxu who continues to be a poor lovesick boy. I've been trying to give credit to Helan Mingyu and empathize with her for the actions she has taken in situations that she has no control over. I can feel her predicament: on one hand, she's still in love with Xiao Chengxu and wants to elope with him, on the other hand, she's the mother of the Emperor and she knows if she were to run away with Xiao Chengxu, the country would descend into chaos as the young Emperor is still too naive and gullible, and can be easily manipulated by those who are eyeing at the throne. Giving up the throne is not an option as she knows there would be a lot of bloodshed, including losing all her loved ones. Until the end, Helan Mingyu is still Xiao Chengxu's Achilles’ heels: he would do anything for her, even giving up his own life.

Episode 50 is probably my favorite episode, and yet it's also the saddest. I cry for the painful loss, Xiao Chengxu's selflessness and miserable life. At the same time, it also feels like a stone lifted from the heart all the knots from the beginning have disappeared after episode 50. Xiao Chengxu maintains his dignity and becomes an immortal. The final chapter has ended, and the epilogue begins. I sigh a sigh of relief.

The Acting
Xiao Chengxu is a very difficult character to portray. On one hand, Cheng Yi has to show his torments to the viewers, on the other hand, these torments have to be hidden from the eyes of those around him, in particular, from the Emperor. As Xiao Chengxu, he grows from a care-free risk-taking youth overnight to a patient, calm, strategic, mature, calculative person when he loses his mother and lover. Xiao Chengxu’s crying at his losses is so painful to watch that viewers cry with him. This is some incredible and brilliant acting and I salute this actor whole heartedly. Cheng Yi is an amazing actor. He has an air of melancholy surrounding him and a poker face which tailor-makes for the Xiao Chengxu character who has to hide his emotions at all times in order to survive the palace politics. Tormented by love and duty, Xiao Chengxu’s emotional turmoil is incredible. His crying really rips the viewers' hearts out. The character is a miserable character living a miserable life. Cheng Yi has successfully brought all these out on the screen for the viewers. Incredible acting!

Helan Mingyu is another difficult character to portray. At the beginning of the drama, many viewers criticize the use of Zhao Yingjuan (aka Sarah Zhao) as Helan Mingyu because she looks too mature for the role. As a 16-17 years old wild girl from the steppes, it is indeed a hard sell Zhao Yingjuan is very lady-like, gentle and soft. However, as a consort later, she is beautiful, elegant and regal. Still, many viewers are not convinced by her performance complaining that she has few expressions on her face most of her expressions are either apologetic or indifferent. It’s hard to see her heartache and resignation despite those are supposed to be the situations she's in. Her role also seems confusing. Many viewers conclude that she’s just been very selfish and unlikable. For me, I can feel Helan Mingyu's pain and her resignation. She has to hide all her feelings inside, no matter what. Watching her, I can feel I'm almost exploding with feelings but at the same time, I'd have to exercise self-restraint to suppress those feelings. It's extremely hard to play and Zhao Yingjuan has successfully achieved that.

All other cast members put up equally incredible acting. All the costumes and settings are beautiful, appropriate and believable.

My Verdict
The Promise of Chang'an reminds me why I didn't like to watch historical dramas in the old days, in particular the palace genre. This is because most of these stories are very heart-breaking, portraying all the pains of human life. I have become "braver" in the recent years, consuming historical dramas as soon as they're airing. Most of these are pretty light-hearted. The Promise of Chang'an is one of those once-in-a-blue-moon type - sad, depressing and yet realistic.

This is a heavy drama with a lot of torments and emotional turmoil. It is not recommended for viewers with depression or high blood pressure as the story may make you feel so helpless and hopeless which is indeed a rotten feeling. Having said that, this is a very well written and produced drama. There are no apparent plot holes nor flaws. Everything is tied up properly and concluded plausibly. Most of all, Xiao Qiyuan and Helan Mingyu have both redeemed themselves towards the end. Despite how some viewers have condemned the storyline and how unsatisfactory they feel some of the characters are being written, I have thoroughly enjoyed this drama. For me, this is how a drama should be written, directed and acted. This is a story of forbidden love, regrets and resignation. Power, duty and country take over.

At this end, I've always pondered, is it ever possible for a love like what Chengxu and Mingyu share, after everything that has happened between them, to last for decades till death, and hence how realistic this drama is? And yes, perhaps it does exist. I find the answer in the current British royal family, Prince Charles and Camila Bowles. Their story could be quite an excellent live example. Only that this British couple has a happily-ever-after ending.

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Authenticity is engrained in everything we do. Eat, stay, and travel like a local.

Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we are consistently winning awards for Top Youth Travel Organization.

"I had been wanting to go to Japan for years prior and getting the chance to go and be fully immersed was amazing! We got to walk through a national forest and see a beautiful waterfall that I wouldn't have even thought to do. We also went to the Studio Ghibli Museum and got to experience city life but also get out of the crowds and go to towns farther out. I got pushed so far out of my comfort zone that I wouldn't have allowed myself to do if I decided to go to Japan by myself on my own terms. I would go back on this trip in a heartbeat. It was so much fun and I got to meet such amazing people. Truly is something that you should do if given the chance."

"This past summer I traveled to Thailand on TFT’s Thailand Elephant Service and the Islands program. This trip was by far my favorite trip that I’ve been on with TFT. The combination of working with elephants, the breadth of activities, as well as the great counselors and campers made it by far one of the most memorable two weeks of my life. One of the highlights of the trip was the service we did with elephants. We volunteered with elephants at sanctuaries learning about proper elephant care, we got to bathe them, prepare food and feed them, cleaned their enclosures, and went on a walk with them. This trip as a whole pushed me out of my comfort zone, it helped me become much more comfortable with trying new things. Each day was filled with new activities which enabled us to experience and learn about the Thai culture. The activities included exploring traditional Thai markets, cooking classes, exploring Thai temples, and much more. Our counselors were amazing, they were always understanding, were easy to come to with any issues, and were just really fun to travel and hang out with. Not only were the counselors great but I met some of the best people on this trip. I’m certain that I will be friends with a few of them for the rest of my life. I’m so grateful to have been able to go on this trip and I wouldn’t trade this trip for the world."

""I've been traveling with TFT since I was 13, and it has been one of the best learning and growth experiences in my life. Through TFT, I've met great friends from all around the world, experienced amazing places, and was pushed out of my comfort zone and grew so much. It even helped me pick my career. In the summer of my 11th year of high school, I went on the Japan Discovery & Service trip. I had recently picked up an interest in digital photography and it just so happened that the trip director for my trip was a professional travel photographer. After traveling with him for only 2 weeks and seeing my photographic growth, I started taking courses in photography at my school and have ended up going to college for Fine Art Photography. Without the experiences TFT allowed me to have, I never would have found one of my biggest passions. The people I've met on the trips are good friends of mine to this day, and the experiences I had with them on the trips I've been on were unforgettable. Karaoke in South Korea with a crew of wacky friends, doing a two hour hike up one of the steepest mountains I've ever seen to take one picture, and other once in a life time experiences like that have made the TFT experience so special to me.""

Alchemy Emperor Of The Divine Dao

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When they saw Ling Han come in, both sisters put on guarded expressions. Just now, they could somehow still have the ability to fight, but now, they were really like fish upon a chopping block, completely at the mercy of others.

Ling Han moved a stool closer to them, sat down, and said, "Why don't you tell me your story?"

Both girls shook their heads at the same time, and the younger sister even declared stubbornly, "Death is better than being insulted. Just kill us!"

"All right, since you two are so determined to die, then I'll give you a hand!" Ling Han nodded and stood.

The two sisters looked like they were not afraid of death and exposed their necks to receive a killing blow, but their tightly gripped hands betrayed themwho would not be afraid when facing death?

Ling Han rubbed his chin, and said, "You two are quite good-looking. To just kill the two of you seems to be too much of a waste."

"You, how can you be so untrustworthy!" the two sisters declared angrily, "Kill us quickly!"

Ling Han could not help being amused, and asked, "So what if I am untrustworthy?"

"You won't get a good end!" the younger sister said with a pale face.

Ling Han laughed loudly, and asked the elder sister, "Bringing along a silly little girl like this is a lot of pressure, isn't it?"

"You, you even insulted me?" the younger sister only felt extremely wronged. This young man either insulted her, or scared her. He was really too despicable! Moreover, he didn't look much older than herself, yet kept referring to her as a little girl, pretending to be so much more mature.

"Tell me your names, or I will smack your bottoms!" Ling Han threatened.

"Heng, I won't tell!" the younger sister declared stubbornly.

"I am Liu Feng Er, and she is my younger sister, Liu Ru Er," the elder sister said.

"Sister, why did you tell him? We would rather die than submit!" the younger sister, Liu Ru Er, declared with a pout.

"What about the person you want to kill?" Ling Han asked.

"Her name is Xu Ke Xin. She used to be a member of our Falling Flower Court, but is now our enemy!" this time, Liu Ru Er snatched the chance to answer first. Since there was no possibility of 'rather die than submit' anymore, then there was no way that an outspoken person like her could hide any secrets.

"Why?" Ling Han asked. He truly felt that his curious nature was much too strong. This had nothing to with him at all.

"Xu Ke Xin used to be the top assassin of our Falling Flower Court, but she actually allied herself with an outsider, charged into our Falling Flower Court, and killed almost all the members of our Falling Flower Court. Although the two of us sisters are all that is left of the Falling Flower Court, we will definitely make this traitor repay with her life," Liu Ru Er made an impassioned declaration, her head held high.

"Pa," Ling Han flicked her forehead, which caused the young girl to hold onto her head in pain as she looked at Ling Han with murderous eyes.

"You tell me," Ling Han turned to look at the elder sister.

"We come from Fire Country, and Falling Flower Court is an organization of assassins. Since young, us two sisters were taken in by our Grand Elder as disciples. Xu Ke Xin collaborated with the Imperial Family of Fire Country and practically massacred the entire Falling Flower Court. Elder Hua managed to save the two of us and flee, but her injuries were much too severe. She only managed to last for a few years, and died last year," Liu Feng Er said. Her explanation was clear and methodical, unlike her younger sister's disorganized explanation. The latter didn't even care if her audience understood her or not.

"And the reason why Xu Ke Xin had committed such crimes. was only because she wanted to steal a treasure of the Falling Flower Court, a Staying Youth Pill. After she got it, she made her way to Rain Country, and using some unknown methods, actually became an Imperial Consort of the Rain Emperor, gifted with the honorable name of 'Consort Yun'.

We used the token that she had left behind to lure her out, but never thought that after a mere five years, that woman actually broke through to Spiritual Ocean Tier, making our plans fail at the final step."

Ling Han was astounded. Just for the sake of a Staying Youth Pill, she actually became hostile and cruel enough to destroy the sect that had nurtured her for years? But when he thought about it, there were indeed some women who placed as much importance on their beauty as on their very lives. For these women, they could sacrifice anything as long as they could preserve their beauty.

But this Xu Ke Xin really did have her ways to actually manage to clear her history of bloodshed and murder, and actually become an Imperial Consort of Rain Country.

"You can rest here and wait for your wounds to recover. When you are recovered, you must immediately leave. Do not drag me into this," he said.

Liu Ru Er looked extremely surprised, and asked, "Why are you helping us?"

Ling Han laughed, and said deliberately, "Of course, it's because the two of you are so beautiful, so you can pay me back by marrying me in future."

"Heng, I will not accept you!" Liu Ru Er immediately declared proudly.

"Silly girl!" Ling Han shook his head. After understanding the whole situation, he had naturally lost the interest in continuing the conversation, so he turned around and left the room. The reason why he was willing to help them was because he was displeased with Xu Ke Xin. That woman actually bore killing intent towards himof course he would have to go against her.

Although there were another two mouths to feed added like this, compared with Hu Niu's colossal appetite, there was not much difference whether these two sisters were here or not. The amount of food consumed would not attract anyone's suspicion.

In the blink of an eye, two days had passed. Ling Han took medicine every day and so his cultivation advanced very rapidly. However, all medicine had a poisonous component, so even though he had concocted a large amount of alchemical pills, he could only take one or two pills per day. Otherwise, the natural poison content in these medicines could accumulate in his body and the result would be unthinkable.

The Liu sisters recovered very slowly. Using the "Two Hearts Beat as One" technique to force out their potential was harmful to their foundation, and no medicine would be of any help to any wound to a person's foundation. Even if there was, the medicine would at least have to be Earth Grade and above. Ling Han was not that generous to get some Earth Grade pills for these two sisters.

There was a slight change to the "egg" that Hu Niu had transformed into. The original white color had turned red, and he could vaguely see a crimson light flickering within, as if the little girl was about to hatch out of the egg soon.

Those who had ventured to the site of that ancient battleground also returned one by one. The godly medicine had fled, the Spiritual Tools had flown off, and they had already gotten whatever they should have gotten. Whatever they didn't get, they had no way to get hold of anyways, so what was the use of continuing to stay there?

At night, the Third Imperial Prince earnestly invited Ling Han to join him at "Cherishing Flower Pavilion".

Ling Han had quite a good impression of this Imperial Prince, so he decided to give the latter some face and accept the invitation.

The Cherishing Flower Pavilion was the most luxurious money-squandering establishment of the Imperial City. Anyone with any slightest bit of social status would choose to receive guests here, because there was not only food made from valuable ingredients and excellent wine here, but also female attendants who had gone through strict training. These women were all extremely beautiful, and came with various bearings.

It could be said that their bearing and beauty completely enabled them to pass themselves off as any princess of the various Great Clans. This naturally satisfied the hearts of all men who sought novelty as they chased after these female attendants.

However, there was too strict a requirement to enter into this Cherishing Flower Pavilion. Even clansmen of minor clans had no right to enter into this place. The establishment would not accept their money to lower the entry requirement. But, the more exclusive it was, the more popular the Cherishing Flower Pavilion was. One could not help but sigh at how well the owner of this establishment could grasp human psychology.

The Third Imperial Prince did not only invite Ling Han. He also invited a lot of other young elites. He had reserved a courtyard of the Cherishing Flower Pavilion for his gathering, proving how very liberal he was with money. Merely the expenses for this one night would be enough for an ordinary family to live their entire lives in comfort.

Ling Han strolled and arrived at the entrance of the Cherishing Flower Pavilion. There were two exquisitely beautiful servant girls standing at the entrance to receive customers. They were tall and slender, *******, and were very high grade in terms of appearance.

"Yi, Big Brother Ling?" A voice filled with surprise suddenly called out from behind him.

Ling Han turned around and saw a young man and woman standing side by side. He could not help but show a smile, and said, "Li Hao, Xue Yi."

"It really is you!" Li Hao and Zhu Xue Yi both smiled, and quickly approached him.

"Hehe, should I be congratulating you for finally winning the maiden's heart?" Ling Han raised his clasped hands in Li Hao's direction, causing this guy to instantly show an expression of embarrassment, but there was no way to hide his joy either.

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The Best of Exciting Xi'an, China

Like most first-time visitors to China, I first arrived in Beijing where I spent a few days recovering from the long flight from England and visiting the must-see sites such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace. I ate Peking Duck in its home city, then flew to China's second most visited tourist site, Xi'an. Most travelers spend a few days there before heading on elsewhere. I got stuck and stayed for a year and have returned many times since. So, what's the attraction?

The city now known as Xi'an was the capital of China through 13 dynasties, culminating in the Tang dynasty (618 to 907 AD) when, under the name Chang'an, it was the largest city in the world and the political, economic, cultural center of China. Surprisingly perhaps, much of the old city remains, mixed in with the modern, so there is a lot of historical and cultural interest to see, while there are also comfortable, developed facilities for visitors.


On March 29, 1974, a couple of farm workers were sent to dig a well on land near a village about 42km / 26 miles to the east of Xi'an. One of the men, Yang Zhifa, later described what happened, saying that after three days of digging, he hit a layer of hard red earth. Breaking through this, Yang discovered what he thought of at first to be an old kiln. Hoping to find some old jars for his own use, he continued digging and eventually unearthed a life-sized statue of what appeared to be a soldier missing its head and one leg. He also found various bronze items which appeared to be weapons. He and some neighbors loaded up three wagon loads of artifacts and hauled them to the nearest museum, where they were recognized as being from the Qin dynasty (221 to 206 BC), founded by Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of a unified China, whose mausoleum lies nearby. A museum curator and archaeologist, Zhao Kangmin, was sent to investigate the site and realized there could be more, so a full archaeological investigation was set in motion. Over the next years, a huge army of warriors numbering some 8,000 was discovered along with horses, carriages and much more.

Terracotta Army

It was decided to turn the site into a museum and research center, so the locals including Yang, were relocated to a new village. Today, the site covers 16,300 meters² (175,000 sq. ft.) and remains the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century and one of the greatest ever. Awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1987, the site is one of China's top attractions.

There are currently three pits which have been excavated. Pit 1 is the largest, containing around 6,000 soldiers standing battle formation to protect the emperor in the afterlife. Pit 2 features cavalry, archers and infantry units along with war chariots, while Pit 3 contains the highest ranking officers. All three are open to the public.

Each statue is unique with its own facial features and expression, varying hairstyles etc. From the army's uniforms it is possible to discern each soldier's rank. Originally the statues were colorfully painted, but the paint peeled off within minutes of them being exposed to the air. Many of the weapons they carried have also rusted away. It is known that there are many more relics including statues still buried on the site, but the authorities have stopped such work until a means can be found to prevent them from being harmed by exposure to the air.

Nearby is the mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇陵), but it too has been left unexplored for fear of damaging any contents. You can visit this too, but to be honest, all there is to see is a mound of earth.

Opening Times: March 16 th to November 15 th : 8:30 to 18:00, last ticket sales 17:00 November 16 th to March 15 th : 8:30 to 17:30, last tickets 16:30. Tickets to the museum and the mausoleum cost 150 RMB (about 21 USD, November 2019 rates) in peak season (March 1 st to November 30 th ) and 120 RMB/17 USD off peak. Children under 1.2 meters / 4 feet tall enter free.

As a popular destination, the site is always busy, but especially so in public holidays (the first weeks of May and October and at the Chinese New Year). Although visitor numbers are now restricted to 65,000 a day, the holidays are best avoided.


An important symbol of Xi'an, the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda can be found in Yanta district in the south of Xi'an. Part of the Buddhist Daci'en Temple (大慈恩寺) complex, the pagoda was originally built with five stories in the early part of the 7 th century, but that structure collapsed 50 years later. The Empress Regent, Wu Zetian (624 &ndash 705) had the pagoda rebuilt in 704, this time on a grander scale with ten stories. In 1556, the world's most deadly earthquake ever, caused serious damage to the pagoda, reducing its height to the current seven stories and also causing the still visible lean to the west. The 64 m / 210 ft pagoda has been renovated again since then, most recently in 1964.

The main function of the pagoda was to hold the documents (sutras) and small statues brought from India by the 7 th -century Buddhist monk, traveler and translator Xuanzang (602 &ndash 664). Apart from his important scholarly work on the Buddhist texts, Xuanzang became the inspiration for one of China's most popular literary works, 西遊记 (Xī Yóu Jì), a highly fictionalized account of his journey to India written some 900 years after his death. Translated into English as "Journey to the West", it has become popularly known for the Monkey King who, in this tale, accompanied Xuanzang (named Tang Sanzang in the novel) on his journey.

Entrance 40 RMB / 6 USD plus 25 RMB /4 USD to climb the pagoda if desired. Open daily 08:00 to 17:00.


The Small Wild Goose Pagoda, also in the south of the city, was built between 707 and 709 to hold the texts of another monk translator, a follower of Xuanzang named Yiching (635&ndash713) who also visited India and translated many Buddhist texts. Also, damaged by earthquakes over the centuries, the existing pagoda has 13 stories and stands 43.4 meters / 142 feet high. It is possible, for a fee (see below), to climb a wooden stairway to the top of the pagoda, but this is a hard climb and only recommended for the fit. It is also rather narrow so not suitable for the larger person.

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Entrance is free except during Chinese Spring Festival when the temple holds its annual fair. Then a charge of around 20-25 RMB / 3-4 USD is levied. Climbing the pagoda does however attract a 30 RMB / 4.3 USD at all times. Opening Times: March 15 th to October 31 st , 09:00-18:00 (Last tickets at 17:00) November 1-March 14: 09:00-17:30 (Last tickets at 16:30). Closed Tuesdays.


Xi'an City Wall, sometimes referred to as the Fortifications of Xi'an, is among one of the best-preserved, oldest and largest city walls in China. Built in 1370 by Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Emperor of the Ming dynasty (1368&ndash1644), the 14 km / 9 mile rectangular wall completely surrounds the city's downtown area which contains several of Xi'an's best hotels and tourist sites. However, before going inside we should take time to look at the wall itself.

Built as a defensive military wall, featuring battlements, parapets and archery posts etc, the wall is 12 meters / 40 feet tall, 12 to 14 meters / 40 to 46 feet wide at the top and 15 to 18 meters (50 to 60 feet) thick at the bottom. There are now 19 gates (not all open to the public), but it is the 4 main gates, North, South East and West Gates which offer best access and facilities. The South Gate is the most elaborate and so, the most popular choice. Today, visitors can walk around the top of the wall, a trip which takes around 3 to 4 hours and is somewhat strenuous. A popular alternative is to hire a bicycle and cycle around all or part of the wall depending on your energy and interest levels. A full circuit takes between 1½ to 2 hours. The less mobile may prefer to take one of the electric cars which go around the wall in a clockwise direction. The wall does afford great views over both the inner city and the more modern large suburban city outside.

Opening Times: South Gate: 08:00 to 22:00. Other gates: 08:00 to 19:00 from May 1 st to Oct 31 st 08:00 to 18:00 the rest of the year. Tickets cost 54 RMB / 7.7 USD

Bike rental: 45 RMB / 6.4 USD for 3 hours, thereafter 5 RMB / 0.7 USD for every additional 10 minutes. Tandem bikes are also available at 90 RMB / 12.8 USD for 2 hours and 10 RMB / 1.4 USD per extra ten minutes, A returnable deposit of 200 RMB /28.5 USD is required. Bikes can be hired at all four main gates and can be returned at any of the gates, if you don't want to make a full circuit.

Electric car tours cost 80 RMB / 11.4 USD (standard car) or 120 RMB / 17 USD (luxury car) for a full circuit. Alternatively, you can pay 20 or 30 RMB / 2.9 or 4.3 USD to travel between any two gates.


A short walk north from the wall's South Gate, at the center of the old city, is Xi'an Bell Tower, the largest such bell tower in China. Built in 1384, in the Ming dynasty, the Bell Tower was originally used to mark the hours of the day and for making important public announcements. The 36 meters / 118 feet tower was originally situated 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) west of its current position. When first built it was at the exact center of the city, but over time it grew to the east so, in 1582, it was decided to relocate the tower to the new center. The old tower was dismantled and carried to the new site, where it was reassembled on a new base. Today, it is preserved as an important cultural relic and tourist attraction. There is a spiral staircase to the upper reaches, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city.

Drum Tower

The tower is open from 08:30 to 21:00 (last tickets 20:30) from March 26 th to October 25 th and 08:30 to 18:00 (last tickets 17:30) the rest of the year. Tickets cost 30 RMB / 4.3 USD, but see below. Children under 1.4 meters / 4.6 feet free if accompanied by an adult.


A short distance from the Bell Tower lies its elder sister, the Drum Tower. This tower, built in 1380, served a similar purpose to the bell tower, marking the time, but also used to warn of danger. Today it is a drum museum and contains the largest drum in China among many others. There are drum performances each day at 09:30, 10:15, 11:00, 11:45, 14:00, 14:45, 15:30 and 16:20.

Open hours and ticket prices are as the Bell Tower. NOTE: A combined ticket for both the Drum and Bell towers is available at either ticket office for 50 RMB / 7.1 USD.


Adjacent to the Drum Tower is Xi'an's Muslim quarter based around Huimin Street (回民街). The district is home to a tight knit community of around 20,000 devout Chinese Muslims, mostly of the Hui ethnic minority. It is a great place to just stroll the streets and see a different side of China. One must-see here is Beiyuanmen (北元门) street market. The shady market street runs north from the Bell Tower for 500 meters / 547 yards and its buildings are modeled on Ming and Qing dynasty styles and contain restaurants and small stores. This is the No. 1 place to sample Xi'an's amazing snacks and cuisine. But more on that to come!

Muslim Street


The Muslim Quarter has around ten mosques, but one is very special. The Great Mosque is the largest in China. Covering 12,000 meters²/ 130,000 square feet), the beautiful walled complex, built originally in 742 during the Tang dynasty but reconstructed and enlarged mostly in the Ming Dynasty, today has five courtyards and around 20 buildings.

The mosque is open to the public from 08:00 to 19:00 or sometimes 20:00. Entry to non-Muslim visitors costs 25 RMB / 3.6 USD from March to November 15 RMB / 2.1 USD at other times. Muslims can enter for free.

Please remember that this is an active place of worship, so appropriate behavior and dress is necessary.


If you are interested in China's most distant history, long before emperors ruled, then a side visit to Banpo, a neolithic archaeological site discovered in 1953, is highly recommended. The village, a short way east of Xi'an, has been carbon-dated to around 5,600 to 6,700 years ago and covers an area of 5 to 6 hectares / 21 to 15 acres, surrounded by a ditch which was probably used as a defensive moat. The museum on the site displays tools, artworks, pottery, graves etc and has reconstructions of the neolithic homes of these ancient people.

Opening times: March to November: 08:00 to 18:00 rest of the year 08:00 to 17:30. Admission: March to November: 55 RMB / 7.8 USD Rest of the year, 40 RMB / 5.7 USD. Children under 1.2 meters / 3.9 feet) free.


Xi'an is the capital of Shaanxi province (陕西), and the city's history museum is one of the largest and best in China. Situated near the Great Wild Goose Pagoda, the museum has a collection of over 370,000 artifacts from the city and province's long, fascinating history. Opened in 1991, the Tang dynasty style museum buildings can show you the story of Xi'an and Shaanxi starting from prehistoric times over a million years ago right up to the 21 st century.

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 08:30 to 18:00 from March 15 th to November 14 th 09:00 to 17:30 at other times. It is closed on Mondays, except during public holidays. Entry is not permitted during the last half hour of opening times.

The museum gives out 6,000 free tickets a day (3,000 in the morning and the same again in the afternoon). You will have to show your passport at the ticket office to gain a ticket. The Exhibition Hall for Treasures of Great Tang Dynasty attracts a supplementary cost of 30 RMB / 4.3 USD.

Warning: The museum is particularly crowded during July and August school's out for summer and many parents like to drag their children there for a bit of culture! You may wish to avoid!


Finally, I must elaborate on Xi'an's wonderful food. The city's central position in the most heavily populated part of China and its attraction to tourists, both domestic and international, means that almost every kind of food can be found here. Western, South-east Asian and many other cuisines are available as, of course, are foods from every part of China. But Shaanxi and Xi'an have a special cuisine of its own. Let me give you just a few examples you really ought to try.

Paomo is a Shaanxi specialty particularly associated with Xi'an. It is basically meat in a stock to which torn-up flat-bread is added for bulk. This dish belongs to the Hui Muslim community who of course, don't eat pork. So this dish comes in two forms. The most popular is 羊肉泡馍 (yángròu pàomó), which is lamb or mutton in a lamb stock with the bread. The alternative version uses beef instead - 牛肉泡馍 (niúròu pàomó). The best place to try this (and many other local dishes) is in the Muslim Quarter. On the tables in the small restaurants here, you will often find pickled or raw garlic and chili peppers for you to add to taste.

Rou Jiamo (肉夹馍 ròujiāmó), sometimes referred to as the Xi'an hamburger by visitors and even English speaking locals, is thought by some to be the world's oldest sandwich. It too comes in different versions. Away from Xi'an and including the rest of Shaanxi, it is most often a round flat-bread (mo) containing pork which has been long stewed with up to 20 spices. However, in Xi'an, with its strong Muslim traditions more often you see beef being used, usually flavored with cumin and chili peppers (孜然牛肉夹馍 zī rán niú ròu jiá mò). Neighboring Gansu province often uses lamb in its version. In the year I lived in Xi'an, I ate these almost everyday, either in the Muslim district or in one of the small restaurants catering to students at a nearby university.

Rou Jiamo

Biangbiang noodles have become famous in recent years for a strange reason. Originally, and still often called youpo chemian (油泼扯面), these are wide flat hand-pulled noodles often served with vegetables, garlic, green onion and chilli peppers to ward off the cold winters.

No one really knows where the name, biangbiang comes from but it is believed to be an onomatopoeic representation of the sound of the wheat noodles smacking against the table when being pulled. But what is more mysterious and the reason for the dish's fame is the unique Chinese character used to represent biang. It has anywhere between 56 and 70 separate strokes (most Chinese characters have between 1 and 17 the average is 9). It is generally thought the character was invented by some shop owner as a marketing gimmick and caught on. It doesn't appear in any Chinese dictionary and is impossible to type on a computer.

Xi'an has many more specialties for you to try and sites to see, but I am out of room here. I will return to its wonderful cuisine in a future post. In the meantime, if you want to visit this wonderful city, include it in a more wide-ranging China trip or want to visit any of Odynovo's 30+ other destinations worldwide, just send us a message telling us where and what you want to see, and our travel experts will craft you a unique, customized itinerary within 24 hours at no obligation of your part.

How to get to/around Kaifeng

1. There is no airport built in the city, but it is about 70km away from the city to Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport. It is convenient for passengers to go to Zhengzhou Airport and then to travel to other cities.

2. Trains daily depart from Kaifeng Railway Station to other cities around China, such as Zhengzhou, Luoyang, Xi'an, Xuzhou, Shangqiu, etc. Kaifeng North Railway Station mainly operates high-speed trains to Zhengzhou, Luoyang, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, etc.

3. There is a long-distance bus station at the north side of local Railway Station. There are long-distance buses traveling every day from the city to Zhengzhou, Luoyang, Sanmenxia, Shangqiu, Xinxiang, Anyang, Beijing, Xuchang, Luohe, Zhumadian, Shenzhen, etc.

4. It is easy to take the public bus for traveling around the city. Most of them are self-service ticketing buses and the bus fare is CNY1. Bus 20 is the special tourist bus which can take you to each scenic spot.

5. The taxi fare of is CNY5 for the first two kilometers and then CNY1 per additional kilometer. The taxi cost is generally within CNY7 for traveling to the attractions in the city downtown area.

See more about Zhengzhou - Kaifeng Train, Luoyang - Kaifeng Train

Why did Emperor Xian's flight from Chang'an take one year? - History

If you travel from Xian to Hukou Waterfalls (400km), or Yan’an (also 400km), you may spend 2 or 3 hours for a extended trip to Huangdi Mausoleum, which is located in between, just 200km north of Xian.

There are many direct and indirect buses either from Xian Long-distance Bus Station or from Yan’an Long-distance Bus Station to Huangling County where Huangdi Mausoleum is located. The National Highway 210 passes along the foot of Mt.Qiaoshan where Huangdi’s tomb is nestled, from north, down the south and to the east.

For your bus ride, if Huangling County is not your bus’s final stop, most propablly your bus will not arrive at the Bus Station in Huangling County. Instead, you will be dropped by the roadside of the expressway close to Huangling County. If that is the case, you have to find a way out, taking a local private car or taxi from the expressway to Huangdi Mausoleum, 5km away.

If your bus’s final stop is Huangling County, then it is very convenient since the Bus Station of Huangling County is just 5 minutes’ walk to the ticket office to the Huangdi Mausoleum.

Huangdi, or Yellow Emperor is the legendary ancestor for all Chinese. His ancestral name is Gongsun and his given name Xuanyuan. It is said that He reigned from 2696–2598 BC. He is considered as the initiator of Chinese civilization – invented weapons, the wells and fields system upper and lower garments, established palaces and houses, early Chinese astronomy, the Chinese calendar, math calculations, code of sound laws…

Entrance Fee
RMB 91 (April – Nov)
RMB 51 (December – March)
Opening hours
08:00 – 17:30
National Offering: each April 5

Follow me to visit Yellow Emperor’s Tomb. I take a local private car from the roadside of the expressway where I have been abandoned by the bus from Yan’an to Xian. I’m quite lucky to find a car parking for business. The car fare is RMB 15 for the 5km ride. Huangling County used to be a two-horse town, now mainly due to the site of Huangling Mausoleum, the town has been developing fast with many modern buildings. Its main street is quite long along the National Highway 207.

Now I’m entering Huangling County along the National Highway 210.

I am entering Huangling County

The street is built in the style of the traditional Chinese architecture

Huangling County Bus Station

The service building (ticket)

The Gate of Xuanyuan Temple

The Gate of Xuanyuan Temple

In the temple compound, there is an old cypress which was, according to historical records, planted by Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor.

An old cypress planted by Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor.

The steles descended from the emperors in Ming and Qing Dynasties.

The steles descended from the emperors in Ming and Qing Dynasties.

The tablets from leaders and nobilities at home and abroad in modern times.

The founding ancestor of human civilization

The founding ancestor of human civilization

2004 completed huge praying square

Take an electric car to the second parking lot

climbing quite some stone steps up to the tomb

climbing quite some stone steps up to the tomb

This is the tomb of Huangdi

The tomb is 3.6 meters tall, 48 meters in circumference

Any questions, just drop a line.

Xi’an: An Exotic City with an Undeniable Historical Depth

Xi’an’s Marvelous History Takes the Lead

Xi’an is a city that is close to Beijing. This city has a history that is more than 3000 years old. It has been the capital city for some of the biggest dynasties in China for more than 1100 years and has been the eastern end of the great silk route which connected it to the ancient world. It has seen a revival in the past two decades and has once again become one of the most important cities in the country. Xi’an today is the seat of very important activities including research and development, national security and the Chinese space program–among others.

The Attractions of Xi’an:

Most of the student internship and summer programs have been designed to include places on the itinerary that have a direct bearing on the visitors’ minds and help them learn about the culture of a country. This is true for all forms of study abroad programs whose destination is Europe or Asia.

When it comes to Asia, gap year programs are becoming immensely popular in China. More and more students are learning Mandarin and hence China has become a hot destination for all programs including summer internship and summer programs for highs school students . Such programs invariably take one to Beijing, which is a perfect place to witness the rise of a nation shrouded in mystery. The city comprises of buildings and high-rises that are at par with the tallest buildings in the world. At the same time, there is the presence of the rich Chinese heritage and culture in the form of historical monuments.

Beijing gives access to the Great Wall of China which is one of the best known historical artifacts in the world and one of the few manmade structures that are visible from the Earth’s orbit. But there are a lot of interesting historical places in the vicinity of this great city – Xian.

Xi’an is the birthplace of the Chinese civilization in bygone eras. This city was a place of great importance in the ancient world. For one, it marks the eastern end of the silk route which connected the country to the world. The city was called Chang’an in the ancient times. The name, when translated in Chinese meant ‘eternal city’. Even though the name has changed since, Xi’an has indeed become eternal in Chinese history, bearing a legacy that is more than three thousand years old. It has been the capital city of various dynasties for over a period of one thousand one hundred years.

As a historical site, Xi’an is best known for the legendary Terracotta Warriors . The Terracotta Warriors are a part of an assemblage that includes both warriors and horses made out of clay. These sculptures depict the army of the first king of China, Qin Shi Huang and are a form of a funerary art that was buried along with the emperor who ruled the country more than two thousand years ago. This was buried with the emperor in the years 210-209 BC. Then there is the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the Shaanxi Provincial History Museum .

Pit 1: Terra-cotta Warriors in the largest of the three pits on exhibition in a huge hangar vault

Pit 1 Terra-cotta Warriors in the largest of the three pits on exhibition in a huge hangar vault

Part of the Pit 1 is still under restoration.

Part of the Pit 1 is still under restoration.

Terra cotta Warriors are stuck together from hundreds of broken pieces.

Terra-cotta Warriors are stuck together from hundreds of broken pieces.

So restoration wok is still going on in Pit 1

So restoration wok is still going on in Pit 1

The unearthed color-painted Bronze Chariots and horses

The unearthed color-painted Bronze Chariots and horses

Making of replica statues of the Terra Cotta Army soldiers

Making of replica statues of the Terra Cotta Army soldiers

A big shop for selling replica statues of the Terra Cotta Army soldiers

A big shop for selling replica statues of the Terra Cotta Army soldiers

Buy a terra-cotta soldier to protect yourself?

Buy a terra cotta soldier to pretect yourself

But Xi’an is not only historically important. Since the 1990s the city has been at the helm of the development drive in the western part of the country. It has re-emerged as one of the most important cities in the country, reliving its historical glory. It has, in the past two decades, become a hub of cultural, industrial and educational development of the country. Some of the most important facilities for development located here include areas of research, national security and the Chinese space program.

How to Visit Hukou Waterfalls

Plan your China tour? Hukou Falls at Yellow River is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in China and the largest yellow waterfalls in the world.

Do you have a fancy idea of visiting this magnificent waterfalls? Yes, years ago its awkward location did drive away many travelers since it is located in the middle reaches of Yellow River in the Loess Plateau hinterlands between Shaanxi Province and Shanxi Province.

But after the local governments improved transport and tourist facilities, foreign and domestic tourists coming to Hukou Waterfalls have increased greatly year on year. Then how to visit Hukou Waterfalls?

Hukou Waterfalls can be viewed either from Shaanxi Province side (Xian as its capital city) or Shanxi Province side ( Taiyuan as its capital city ) since Yellow River is a border river dividing Shaanxi Province and Shanxi Province.

The visitors viewing on the Hukou Waterfalls Shaanxi side has outnumbered those on Shanxi side. The viewing place on Shaanxi side is lower than Shanxi side, which makes the waterfalls looks much more magnificent than viewed from Shanxi side.

Best Time to View Hukou Falls
The best time to visit Hukou Waterfalls is May, June, September and October. July and August are a little to hot and humid.

Winter season finds less water volume on the Yellow River, reducing the greatness of the waterfalls. The ice and snow at Hukou Waterfalls will be melted totally in May.

But visiting Hukou Waterfalls in winter has its unique features which you cannot enjoy in the high or best season. You will see ice pendants and a whitened iced river itself.

How to Get to Hukou Falls?
Xian, Taiyuan and Yanan are the three most accessible cities to start up your trip to Hukou Waterfalls.

1. Going from Xian to Hukou Waterfalls

Choice A: Two Daily Buses from Xian directly to Hukou Falls
Note: The direct buses are possibly closed in winter due to the lack of tourists.
Bus Station in Xian: Xian Cheng Dong Bus Station ( 西安城东汽车站)
Two Departures: 8:00 am and 1:20 pm ( To)
12:00 and 5:00 pm ( Back )
Bus fare: 114 yuan + 2.5 yuan insurance fee
Drive Time: 5 hours ( 340 km )
Bus Station Add: 103 Mid-Changle Rd, Xian 西安市长乐中路103号

Choice B: Going from Xian to Yi Chuan by Bus + Local Mini-Bus to Hukou Falls
If you miss the direct buses from Xian to Hukou Falls, you may first take the bus from Xian Dong Cheng Bus Station to Yi Chuan (宜川), then connect the local minibus to Hukou Falls. Hukou Falls is about 41 km to the east of Yi Chuan County .

There are 8 daily buses running from Xian Dong Cheng Bus Station to Yichuan County and 4 daily buses back. From Xian, first bus at 8:00am and last bus at 3:20pm back from Yichuan, there are 4 buses starting at 6:00am, 8:30 am 11:40am and 5:40:pm.

As for the public transport between Yi Chuan and Hukou Falls, you may share the local mini-bus: 30 yuan per person 41 km).

2. Going from Yan’an to Hukou Waterfalls
Hukou Waterfalls is located about 140km in the southeast of Yanan (Hukou Waterfalls is under the administration of Yanan). Yanan has plentiful trains going to Beijing, Taiyuan and Xian. Yanan also has a medium-sized airport which has flights for Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and etc.

Choice A: Two Daily Buses from Yan’an directly to Hukou Falls
Note: The direct buses are possibly closed in winter due to the lack of tourists.
Bus Station in Yan’an: Yan’an South Bus Station ( 延安汽车南站)
Two Departures: 7:30 am and 8:20 am ( To)
12:00 and 2:00 pm ( Back )
Drive Time: 2 and half hours ( 140 km )
Yan’an South Bus Station: located about 300 meters north of Yan’an Railway Station.
Hotline: 0911-2491167, 0911-2492777

Choice B: Going from Yan’an to Yi Chuan by Bus + Local Mini-Bus to Hukou Falls
If you miss the direct buses from Yan’an to Hukou Falls, you may first take the bus from Yan’an South Bus Station to Yi Chuan (宜川), then connect the local minibus to Hukou Falls. Hukou Falls is about 41 km to the east of Yi Chuan County.

There are 8 daily buses from Yan’an South Bus Station ( 延安南站) to Yi Chuan listed below:
Departures: 6:00, 6:30, 10:05, 12:10, 12:20, 12:40, 17:30, and 18:00
Bus fare: around 44 yuan
Bus Ride: over 2 hours ( 120 km )
Yan’an South Bus Station: located about 300 meters north of Yan’an Railway Station.
Hoteline: 0911-2491167, 0911-2492777

As for the public transport between Yi Chuan and Hukou Falls, you may share the local mini-bus: 30 yuan per person 41 km).

3. Going from Taiyuan to Hukou Waterfalls
You may take a bus and drive from Taiyuan to Hukou Waterfalls at a distance of about 400km. The Taiyuan-Hukou Waterfalls highway is completed.

Today I make a side trip to Hukou Waterfalls from Yanan. Follow me into the wonderland of Hukou Waterfalls!

Yesterday I took the overnight train Z53 starting from Beijing Western Railway Station at 20:03. All the cars in the train offer soft sleepers, clean and comfortable. The Z53 arrives at 5:03 early in the morning. Losing no time, I hire a taxi (about 500 yuan for a day to Hukou Falls) hunting for business at the train station and directly dart for Hukou Waterfalls though it is still quite dark outside.

We (me and my taxi driver) take a short cut – a provincial highway No.303 with a length of 140km from Yanan city center to Hukou Waterfalls. We are driving on the loess plateau at the direction of southeast. I hope we can have the luck to enjoy a sunrise over the loess plateau. It seems today the good luck is sure to follow us! Driving on the high loess hills, we hit a red rising sun! Cool!

A sunrise over the loess plateau at 7:30am

A sunrise over the loess plateau

Here is the melting radiant sunrise over Yellow River

When we get to the tickting office of Hukou Waterfalls on Shaanxi side, we feel dropped from heaven to hell when we are told that Hukou Waterfalls is forbidden to visit due to treacherous ice surface on the river.

Seeing I look so depressed, they show their sympathy and tell us to go to Shanxi side (their competitor) to view the waterfalls.

Heaven never seals off all exits! We continue to drive another 7km crossing a bridge spanning Yellow River and get to the Hukou Waterfalls on Shanxi side. Paying entrance RMB91 enables me to come closer to the waterfalls which has been lingering in my heart for many years.

Entrance ticket for Hukou Waterfalls RMB91

The picture below is taken from the bridge when we drive past the bridge to Shanxi side. You see, most of the river surface is frozen and the flowing water is running under the iced river surface.

The flowing water is running under the iced river surface.

the flowing water is running under the iced river surface.

Unlike a normal waterfalls hanging high and easy for people to look up. But in the case of Hukou Waterfalls, people have to look down! Hukou waterfalls is located in the middle of the over-200m-wide river.

The waterfalls’s velocity increases, and then plunges over a narrow opening on a cliff on the river bed, forming a waterfall 15m high and 20m wide, as if water is pouring down from a huge teapot, hence the name Hukou (literally, the mouth of teapot) Waterfall.

I walk across the iced river along the cement bridges to the a narrow opening on a cliff on the river bed in the middle of the wide river. From the river bank, it is difficult to discern the waterfalls!

From the river bank, it is difficult to discern the waterfalls!

I walk carefully and move closer to a protection rope line. After finding a good viewing point, I snap some pictures of the waterfalls producing masses of smoke, turning the placid water into rapids with ice pendants on two sides.

the waterfalls stirring up masses of smoke, turning the placid water into rapids

I’m the only visitor on Hukou Waterfalls at the moment. A local staff comes to me saying if I pay extra RMB21, I’m able to view the waterfalls from its bottom!

They have dug a tunnel leading to the bottom of the waterfalls! Jesus! Sure I’m ready to pay and follow him walk down the tunnel.

Follow him walk down the tunnel

Now I’m almost on the same level of the river bed of the running water under the waterfalls. From there, I look up at the waterfalls!

In the sunshine, the mist is reflected by sunlight to create a rainbow spanning the water like a colorful bridge!

The mist is reflected by sunlight to create a rainbow spanning the water like a colorful bridge!

Tip: Hassle-free Xian Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for Xian guided tours:

China 2020 – Staycation

Yes, we’re a little bit odd at times, but odd can be fun. We decided that since we can’t go to China, we would bring a little bit of China to Williamsville. A little taste of the cuisine, a few videos of the sites we were going to see and maybe a surprise or two along the way.

Our preparations have changed from obtaining Visas and buying hygiene products to looking up recipes and buying spices, which I might add has been an enjoyable endeavor. We can’t wait to cook and eat some of the goodies – I’ll be sure to share some pictures and a review or two.

Let me start by introducing you to our travel companion and guide. Ladies and gentlemen, this is “Wei Wei”. Wei Wei will be helping us with commentary, historical facts, menu choices, a little philosophy and just looking cute and fuzzy (which was my former job).

Wei Wei says: Life is not a problem to be solved, but rather a reality to be experienced !

Sue is ready. Wei Wei is ready. My irreverent humor is stockpiled, and I’ve found plenty of photos to document our tongue-in-cheek Chinese journey. I guess that means that I’m ready too. The trip starts on Saturday, October 10th. Hope you’ll join us and have some fun along the way.

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Though not overly exciting, I have sort of enjoyed the first half of the story (season 1) because there is nothing out there to watch. I thought the second half would more or less be the same, continue from the first half. To my disappointment, the writing gets really bad and childish, though the storyline continues. Throughout, I have been suppressing myself from hurling pillows at my computer. And I’m glad it’s over.

From season 1, we have established that Jun Wujiu (Li Xizi) is a genius investigator, and he works seamlessly with Cheng Yang (Chen Ziyou), who wears many hats (he is a police officer cum prosecutor cum magistrate - what a conflict of interest here), in solving criminal cases after cases. What seemingly unrelated, in fact all these cases are associated with each other and ultimately, pointing to a couple of villains who are behind all the killings in broad daylight. When the dots are connected, it is not difficult for the team to find evidence to put the villains away, and that’s the boring and frustrating part because of the bad writing. Though the villains are blatant and out in the open, the protagonists become very stupid and do all the dumb things that even a 3-year old wouldn’t do (well, maybe I exaggerated, but you get what I mean). The dialogues become kiddie with a bunch of noise and no substance. The timeline is all messed up (when it’s broad daylight, the dialogues refer to midnight etc.) causing eye-rolls constantly. Glaring flaws and plot holes run every minute. From episode 8 onwards, every episode is a torture – I feel like vomiting blood.

My Verdict
This is a very disappointing drama. There’s no character development, no plot build-up, no epiphany, and no planning because the protagonists are always reactionary. If you are looking for romance, there’s none either (I don’t care so much about romance here). Not one character stands out that makes viewers love and remember. The male lead character, Cheng Yang, is not very impressive though the actor looks very nice in his uniform. Perhaps that’s the only thing I like the most – beautiful constable uniform (call me skin deep).

Another Historical CSI

Just as I was lamenting what a summer slump this month is with no good dramas to watch, kaboom! this unexpected drama landed on my lap, with all 24 episodes released in one go. For some reasons, it’s being split into 2 seasons, with 12 episodes each. The very first episode is intriguing enough to draw any discerning viewers to continue with the journey of a brilliant investigator, a super good-looking police chief, a skilled martial arts female constable, and a spoilt little brat.

As a genius investigator, Jun Wujiu (Li Xizi) has a very sensitive nose like a canine, and his observation to details is unmatched by anyone. He’s able to place himself in a crime scene and reconstruct the crime with his imagination. Though knows no martial arts, he uses his wit and overcomes all dangers that come at him. Besides him is always Su Wenyue (Yang Fuyu), there to protect him. She is a constable and the best fighter around. She is tomboyish, has a simplistic mind and her temper can be explosive, and yet she works well with Jun Wujiu. They banter a lot and their dynamics together are sweet and cute with a lot of teasing from Jun Wujiu. They are both the most valued assistants to Cheng Yang (Chen Ziyou aka Run Chen) who is the head of the investigative team. Calm and serious, he is level-headed with an analytical mind and works seamlessly with Jun Wujiu to solve crimes after crimes. Chen Ziyou has an air of Zhang Binbin (Vin Zhang) and looks like a younger Jia Nailiang (Jerry Jia) with the same good look, I really like his portrayal of the Cheng Yang character. A drama will not be complete without an annoying character. Here, we have Ouyang Chuchu who is utterly spoilt by her father and doted by Cheng Yang whom she is in love with, but he treats her as a little sister. The character does grow and later becomes quite lovable. The romance for all main leads is still in its early stage and hasn’t really blossomed yet.

All the actors are new to me. Their acting is pretty good playing their individual roles convincingly. The criminal cases are interesting, with a lot of twists, and with unexpected discoveries and eventual outcomes. When a case is thought to be solved and closed, new developments compel it to reopen, and more mysteries ensue. There could be plot holes here and there, and some murder/mystery cases may be too simplistic with forced logic, but it’s still rather an enjoyable watch.

Overall, after the first 12 episodes (season 1), this drama is not exceedingly exciting but not bad either. In times of drama depravation, I am rather grateful for such a drama. I'm savoring it.

Awkward and Poor Script

If not because of Zeng Shun Xi (aka Joseph Zeng), I don’t think I would have continued with this drama. The writing is weird, the dialogues are weird, the logic is weird, Liang Jie’s acting and character are weird, and the English title is even more weird. The only saving grace is Zeng Shun Xi’s acting and his character which I really like a lot. This drama is set in the Song Dynasty when often the emperors had no heirs of their own and were forced to adopt their nephews as their successors.

Zhao Xiao Qian (Zeng Shun Xi) is the adopted son of the Emperor. He and his older brother were brought into the palace to be groomed as the heir to the throne. Then the Empress conceived, and the two brothers lost favor. When the Empress had a still-born, Zhao Xiao Qian’s brother died and Zhao Xiao Qian was banished to Wu Jiang Fu, a city far away from the palace. He is happy living his quiet life, until Xie Xiao Man (Liang Jie) shows up and he falls in love with her. Zhao Xiao Qian cannot marry her because of their difference in their social statuses – he’s a noble and she’s a commoner from the countryside.

Fundamentally, Zhao Xiao Qian is a good person. He's kind and caring, generous and protective towards all the people he cares about. However, he is also hot tempered, entitled, unreasonable, demanding, authoritative and abusive, all an act to cover his pain and anger. Zeng Shun Xi's acting as the explosive Zhao Xiao Qian with a lot of pend up anger is very convincing, and I empathize with this character, despite his initial verbally abusive behavior towards Xie Xiao Man, which I feel she totally deserves. For some reason, Liang Jie’s acting of the Xie Xiao Man character here is not very impressive she feels awkward and unnatural. I don’t know if her voice is dubbed, but she sure sounds cringey.

This is a story about class struggle and the oligarchy system which imposes injustices in the society with rampant corruption and abuse of power. The writing seems childish, written for young viewers. The characters are very immature with very simple dialogues and logic. Though they later grow to become more responsible and to achieving their dreams, they remain naïve because their thinking is still simplistic. More than 80% of the drama is spent in an academic setting where the characters are acquiring their education. Initially, the theme of equality emerges - one mustn’t judge another by their birth, in particular in gender equality when girls are inspired to nourish themselves with education and contribute to the society. Then this theme fizzles out with nothing much to show.

The writer seems to be flip-flopping with the characters, in particular with the Xie Xiao Man character. On one hand, she is smart, but at the same time, her actions are pretty dumb. She is supposed to be strong and brave, and yet she is so muddle and girly, causing misunderstanding again and again, that she is frustrating to watch.

This is a youth school drama in a historical setting with a theme that says, “Education is the most powerful weapon” when the characters, boys and girls, are encouraged to value education. Then enters gender equality when girls are inspired to perform as well as the boys and contribute to society. All these fizzle out the world is still unjust with birth statuses still being the determinant of what one can and cannot do with one's life though Zhao Xiao Qian manages to upgrade Xie Xiao Man’s status so that he could marry her girls are still being treated as the belongings of men and cannot make their own decisions for their own lives though an independent female businesswoman is being highlighted here the rich and powerful still rule the world though Zhao Xiao Qian manages to take down some. Flaws and plot holes everywhere, the dialogues are boring and bad. Many viewers find the OTP’s relationship toxic, and they grit their teeth watching the romance development and continuous misunderstandings one after another, and the annoying behavior of Xie Xiao Man that always angers Zhao Xiao Qian. For me, he loves and wants her, and the feelings are mutual (though she also feels insecure), that is good enough for me (boy! I have such low expectation).

How to Date a Single Mom with a Child

I didn’t start watching this drama when it began airing because I couldn’t get over the image I have of Liu Xueyi as Hao Chen in “Love and Redemption”. But one episode in, I was completely drawn in by the acting, the storyline and the humor. It's exhilarating and funny, at the same time, rather serious, dark and oxymoronic, with a hidden super villain, mysteries, conspiracies, murders and plenty of hot kisses. This drama beats many other dramas which are concurrently airing.

Yu Qingluo (Wang Ziwei), a single mom with a 6-year old boy, Nan Nan (Zhang Zihan), is trying to find a father for her child. Time and time again her dates are being sabotaged by the little boy until she falls in love with Ye Xiudu (Liu Xueyi). Strangely Nan Nan also takes a liking to her lover, as if they have some sort of an invisible bond. Indeed Nan Nan has earlier made Ye Xiudu his disciple who has to pay with the price of unlimited supply of crispy fried chickens.

Yu Qingluo is a brilliant so-called “ghost” doctor (“guiyi”) as opposed to an “angel” doctor (“shenyi”) because she uses poisons to heal. She is strong, calm, unpretentious and fearless. She is always flanked by 4 very young, good looking and formidable leaders of prominent organizations/sects as protectors who vowed to protect her and her son with their lives because she has saved all of them under different circumstances. Though kind and vows to save lives, she also kills as a tit-for-tat. She pays back anyone who has come to harm her or her child. This quality really thrills the viewers (well, at least me).

Wang Ziwei is beautiful and mature, and her acting is top notched as a young single mother. She makes motherhood look excruciatingly fun with her super intelligent 6 years old son. And what an adorable bundle Nan Nan is. I am so impressed by the child actor Zhang Zihan’s acting. He brings to life the little Nan Nan’s character, adding a lot of joy to the drama, making the viewers love not just the little boy himself, but all the characters around him, in particular Ye Xiudu (Liu Xueyi). Nan Nan’s favorite food is crispy fried chickens and there is no lack of chicken dishes in almost all Nan Nan’s scenes, that would certainly make many viewers salivating (I feel hungry watching the crispy fried chickens, KFC is of no match). I adore the mother/child relationship here. Their dynamics are heart warming and really funny ear twisting, face squeezing and pony tail pulling are norms. Throughout the drama until he finds out who his birth father is, Nan Nan has been sabotaging his mother's relationship with any men whom he finds overly intimate with his mother.

A fearsome general and a royalty, Ye Xiudu has unbeatable martial art skills. On the surface, he is serious and upstanding, but at the flip side, he is quirky: he has vasovagal syncope and faints with the sight of blood (imagine that for a general who kills in battles, also reminds me of husbands who faint at their wives' childbirths. That's why he has to blindfold himself when he fights because he cannot look at blood), and he is narcissistic and bombastic. All these traits make the Ye Xiudu character hilarious, laughable and very lovable too. Calling his romance with Yu Qingluo super funny is an understatement. There is a pattern for the OTP: they meet, fall in love, lose memory, meet again, fall in love again, lose memory again, multiple times. I have been prejudiced by associating Liu Xueyi as an antagonist. But here I come to really like him. His acting is superb, capturing all the quirkiness there is of his character. He is a wonderful actor.

There are many very lovable and funny side characters and the acting by the whole cast is authentic and fabulous. At the most tensed and dangerous moments, conflicts are resolved in the nick of time the hero always appears at the very last and crucial moments.

This is an amazing drama with a hilarious storyline. It is action packed, fast paced but balanced by the romantic moments. With only 24 episodes, it wastes no time with fillers. Having said that, the pace slows down a lot towards the last 2 episodes. There is a lot of kissing scenes, intentional or accidental, in almost every episode. Everything is crazy and over exaggerated, including the romance. The whole drama is like a mash-up that mixes “Butterfly Lovers” to the giant flying mushroom, to the blind wuxia fighter of Gu Long's Hua Manlou, with tropes like multiple memory losses and multiple falling-off-cliff-and-survive scenes. Random uses of random music and jingles add on the light-heartedness. Imagine hearing a Christmas song in a Chinese historical drama (at the end of Episode 10, the tune “Tidings of Comfort and Joy” is played, cheekily, to create a cute mood). Animal sounds, such as a cockerel's crow or a goat’s bleat, are played to signify a blunder made. And modern vibes are inserted here and there brilliantly. It is as if the writers try to make the whole thing as preposterous and as outrageous as possible to poke the viewers for fun.

Despite the fun and non-seriousness, the writing is pretty tight and the editing is quite good, even the CGIs are rather well done. I’m particularly impressed by Yu Qingluo’s pet scorpion which is also her weapon. This doesn't seem like a run-of-the-mill production.

I give this drama a very high rating because it makes me laugh out loud so hard. We know it's a dumb story as it constantly reminds us that this is a crazy drama with a lot of silly stuff. A viewer puts it succinctly, "It's not the comedy nor the music, but the whole thing so lame that makes it laughable." I agree. So one mustn't take it seriously. The whole thing is like a cartoon, with comical music to egg it on. So folks, lighten up! We all need it.

A great watch for the family and to fight off the pandemic lockdown blues. A delightful show you don't want to miss!


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