Last week I was lamenting how little I’ve written about my temporary home city of Xi’an, China. It’s not because I don’t like it here- I do! I think maybe things just become a bit commonplace when you see them everyday.
Anyways, I already wrote about the vibrant snack-festival that is the city Muslim Quarter. Today’s topic is one of my favorite attractions in China: Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Dayan Ta).
With a goofy name like that, you know it’s going to be good. And the pagoda itself is pretty cool: It was built in 704 AD and named after some carnvirous monks wth a hankering for duck (or something ike that). It was originally ten stories high- which in the 8th century I imagine was like really, really high. An earthquake knocked it down to it’s current 7 stories and gave it a slight tilt. Even in it’s shortened state it’s still a towering old structure that sticks out mightily among all of the modern construction projects.
The best part about Big Wild Goose Pagoda though isn’t the name, it’s what happens in front of it, in the Northern square. This square is enormous- one of the largest in Asia, and it is actually famous for having the most benches of anywhere in the world! More interestingly: Every night after dusk the area is home to the biggest water show in ALL of Asia.
Bet you didn’t know that did you? The fountain is about the size of a football field with multicolored lights running all through it. The show is kind of a ballet of dancing light and water. It lasts maybe half an hour and runs through a variety of classical western and chinese songs, with a couple pop songs thrown in for good measure. It’s absolutely beautiful.
The most fun bit: without any of those pesky “safety restrictions” you might find in a Western country, you can get REALLY lose to the fountains. Actually you can go right down to the base of the fountain and stand in between the sprays. You could run right through the jets if you really wanted too (altough I imagine it would be quite painful). Sure you get a bit wet, but frolicking in the middle of this electric light show is too good an oppurtunity to miss.
For some reason not many Western toursits seem to make it out to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, so you can expect to receive some curious states and maybe even some attempts at conversation from local English students. It’s a shame more people don’t visit, because it’s definitely at the very top of my list for Must-Sees in Xi’an.