The Qin Mountains
The mountain range stretches for 1,600 km along the east-west direction.
If someone introduces themselves as a Southerner, it means they live to the south of the Qin Mountains.
Mount Taibai is the highest mountain in the range, measuring 3,700 metres.
The crested ibis, once considered extinct, were rediscovered in the mountains in 1981.
Only seven of them were found at the time. Nearly four decades later, there’re over 1,700 ibises here.
There are two subspecies of giant pandas. One of them live mostly in Sichuan. The other subspecies, the Qinling panda, live in Shaanxi.
Over 300 wild pandas live in the mountains here.
Including Qizai, the only living brown panda in the world.
One theory of Qizai’s unique colour is that when Qizai’s mother gave birth to Qizai, she ran out of ink.
The Chinese name of giant pandas are “xiongmao”, which means “bear cat”. They can be as cute as a kitten, but also naughty as a bear cub.
Living higher up in the mountains are another species famous for being naughty.
The snub-nosed monkeys.
Sometimes they argue with each other, sometimes they hug each other.
But their favourite activity is taking selfies.
These creatures that were once mistaken for monsters are golden takin.
It’s a member of the Caprinae family, kind of a cross between a goat and an antelope.
They have short stocky legs like an ox, face like a moose, short tail like a goat, and horns like a wildebeest.
They can jump over bushes and climb steep cliffs like a mountain goat, but they also lock horns like bulls, and bleat like a lamb.
To further confuse matters, their Chinese name contains the word for cows.
Takins are gregarious animals and usually don’t attack humans. But if you find a takin wandering alone, you need to be more careful. This takin has likely just been dumped and is in a foul mood.
The Zhongnan Mountains
This is where Wang Chongyang founded the Quanzhen school of Taoism.
Even today, it remains a popular destination for Taoist hermits.
About 5,000 hermits live on the mountains.
To the northeast is Mount Hua.
The entire mountain is a giant piece of granite.
Visitors risk a steep climb on the gallery road to reach its peak.
Mount Hua is also the setting for two of Jin Yong’s novels, where the masters of different schools of martial arts had their duel.
The roads are mostly wooden planks.
Even with safety harness and protective iron railings, it’s still a hair-raising experience.
The Jing River and the Wei River merge here.
In summer, both rivers carry a large amount of sediments, appearing yellow.
But in winter, the Jing River clears up as the sediments sink to the bottom. The two rivers present two distinct colours.
The combined river flows towards the Yellow River.
The Guanzhong Plain.
The plain witnessed the rise and fall of the Qin Empire.
Terracotta warriors are still being made in parts of Shaanxi.
The original warriors are safely kept in the museum at Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum.
One story about the warriors is that they were made to replace the thousands of boys and girls that were supposed to be buried at the mausoleum when Qinshihuang died.
Another story suggests that Qinshihuang believed he would continue to be an emperor in the afterlife and wanted an army to be ready for him when he reached the underworld.
About 1,500 metres away from the terracotta warriors is this hill, where Qinshihuang was buried in an underground palace.
The palace remains unexcavated, for numerous reasons.
It took 39 years to build the mausoleum, with tens of thousands of labourers. The entire mausoleum takes up a space equivalent to 63 Palace Museums.
The ruins of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall.
Beacon towers for sending smoke signals.
Qinshihuang was an ambitious emperor. He ordered a road to be built that connected modern-day Inner Mongolia, Gansu, and Shaanxi Provinces.
The road measured more than 700 kilometres, and continued to be used until the Qing Dynasty two thousand years later.
The Qianling Mausoleum in Xianyang City.
The only female emperor in Chinese history, Wu Zetian, was buried here, along with emperor Li Zhi.
The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda was built by Xuanzang in Tang Dynasty, to store the Buddhist scriptures he brought back from ancient India.
Generations of Tang Dynasty emperors lived in the palace in Xi’an.
Though most of the palace buildings no longer exist, replicas of them can still be found in Kyoto, Japan, built after the Tang Dynasty palace style.
Shaanxi is also home to roujiamo—meat sandwich.