China · China travel · Travel

Ancient China trip to Shanxi and Henan


I took another trip to China last month. This trip was to the cradle of Chinese civilization, where the earliest Chinese settlements and dynasties started. This area is known as the Yellow River Basin, as the Yellow River (China’s second mighty river after the Yangtze) passes through it. Most of China’s earliest kingdoms and dynasties started here, including the Qin Dynasty, from which China got its name from, and the Han Dynasty, from which ethnic Chinese are named after. After going to Beijing earlier this year, it was fitting to now be going to Xian, another of China’s great capitals and arguably its second famous. Xian has the world-famous terracotta warriors and it was the capital for most of the great Tang dynasty (618-907 AD). Besides Xian, I also went to Huashan, one of China’s holy mountains, and Luoyang, which was in neighboring Henan province. Luoyang is also a former capital, one of China’s four ancient great capitals, though probably the least well-known (Beijing and the charming southern city of Nanjing round out this prestigious quartet).

A is Xian, B is Huashan, and C is Luoyang. This area, especially Henan province, is basically the cradle of Chinese civilization. As you can see, Shanghai is to the southeast and Beijing is to the northeast.

It was the first time I was going to Xian or the Yellow River region in general, and ironically it was a region which I didn’t have much interest in before. Despite all the great history, I thought this region, including Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan and Gansu provinces, was old, dusty, and a far cry from its past glories, especially as the center of Chinese civilization slowly but gradually shifted eastwards to the Yangtze River Delta to Nanjing and Hangzhou, and northwards to Beijing. Henan province has at least four former ancient capitals but you’d be hardpressed to read any recent positive news about it. I turned out to be completely wrong, which isn’t the first time it has happened.
This was a completely solo trip which made it a bit more challenging. Initially I was going with my mother, but a medical emergency with a relative forced her to stay behind. Anyways, all this just meant that this was a great opportunity to see new sights, to challenge myself, and to test my faith in China and its people.


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