This June holiday I was doing Silk Road with Chan’s brother for 2 weeks. The first Silk Road that I experienced was in Konya, Turkey, only part of the route and I was exposed to the 13 Century Caravanserai which is a roadside hotels for the ancient travelers. That was the first introductory for me to learn about Silk Road.
This time I was going to experience the world’s longest Silk Road in China, which usually start from Lanzhou and move towards the West part of China through Xinjiang. Silk was one of the most important trade items many thousand years ago so it is called Silk Road. In fact Silk is more expensive than gold in the ancient time. Silk from China were sold with very high price to the West. To conclude, Silk Road was an old trade routes that connected the East and West and a place where many cultural meeting and exchange happened many thousands years ago.
Our original plan was flying from Singapore to Beijing and transfer to Lanzhou but we missed our domestic flights to Lanzhou when we arrived in Beijing Airport because our transit timing is only 2 hours and that is not enough to clear custom. It is common to see so many travelers at the Beijing Airport and the queue was super long. Recently the China immigration has a new law for all travelers at the immigration custom, that is to take finger prints of your 10 fingers plus taking picture of your face so it really taking a lot of times to clear the custom. If you are thinking of connecting flight to Lanzhou, please make sure at least 4 hours of transit time.
Anyway, we started our Silk Road journey from Wuwei instead of Lanzhou. Wuwei is located in Gansu province quite near inner Mongolia. Wuwei city is called Liangzhou 涼州 in the ancient time. It is a key link for Silk Road and many important archaeological finds were discovered here, one of the important and also most iconic sculpture is Flying Horse of Gansu 馬踏飛燕.
Lei Tai translate as thunder tower in Chinese language, it is a platform to hold ceremony of paying respect in the ancient old days in China. Leitai is nice to walk around as it is nicely maintained. There is a tomb from the East Han Dynasty and some treasures inside.
In Leitai Wuwei, there are things that you should look at carefully. Just follow my top 13 top things to see in Leitai Wuwei. Well, at least top 9 things are really crucial to note before you go Letai Wuwei.
1. Flying Horse of Gansu 馬踏飛燕
Upon entering Leitai after you have paid for your ticket, you will see the Flying Horse of Gansu 馬踏飛燕. This is an iconic sculpture in Gansu province. You can see this sculpture in many of the important site in Gansu province. When I arrived in Lanzhou Airport, the first thing I saw was Flying Horse of Gansu 馬踏飛燕 outside the airport.
Some background of Flying Horse of Gansu 馬踏飛燕
Flying Horse of Gansu 馬踏飛燕 was unearthed from the tomb here, which belong to Zhang Official. The original size of Flying Horse of Gansu 馬踏飛燕 is small (34.5 cm in height, 45 cm in length, and 13.1 cm in width) and original sculpture was put inside the Lanzhou museum. The one you see in Leitai is the replica, bigger size too.
2.Replica of warriors, horse and chariots
Outside the tombs, you will find bigger size of bronze chariots, horses and warriors at the open space. These are all replica. You should pay attention to look out for another real size replica inside the tombs.
3. Feel the cool air inside the tomb
The tomb is very small and narrow passage, we have about 30 pax in a group and we needed to break into two groups to take turn to enter the tomb. Inside the tomb, you will find it has the natural air-condition, super cool since it was summer when I was there.
4. House Shape at the Wall of the tomb
At the wall of the tomb, you will find a shape of the house. Do pay attention for your guide to explain why there is a house shape at the wall upon entering the tomb.
5. Bixi 赑屃
Tortoise Pedestal was found in the passage since tortoise was a good luck symbol in ancient to bless and protect the tomb owner and his offsprings in happiness and richness. The tortoise pedestal in Ming Dynasty was called “Bixi” 赑屃. The heads are gone as many people touched it. Just look and don’t touch anything so our next generation can still enjoy these artifacts.
6. Observe the Bricks – Mystery
Metal steels were used now to enhance the whole tomb and prevent the bricks from collapsing. Archeologists found each brick used can support super strong pressure as compared to current bricks. The ancient brick, each one of the brick can support pressure of 366 to 374 kg as compared to the current brick which can only support pressure of 150-200 kg, almost double the weight. Till now, it is still a mystery how the brick was made in the ancient time.
7. Tomb’s Robbery
You will see there is a hole being digged out caused by the smart tomb’s robber. The robbers were so smart to know how the structure of the whole tombs was built. They stole the treasure inside the tombs then sealed back the hole with the bricks so nobody can find this tombs.
8. Ninety-nine Bronze Carriages
Inside the tomb, there is a small room filled with the warriors, horses and chariots. These are also replica but with the correct size. The real thing are being cared in the Lanzhou Museum.
9. Shop for Replica of Flying Horse of Gansu 馬踏飛燕
Outside the tomb entrance, there are few stalls selling the replica of Flying Horse of Gansu 馬踏飛燕. If you are interested do check it out. I wanted to get one but because of it heavy weight I decided not to as I still have many days in Silk Road.
10. Tall trees
There are some tall trees without twigs and I find it quite pretty.
12. A Four Legged Friend
Not sure the four-legged friend will be there when you pay a visit but this particular cuties has only one eye. Another eye is blind but he is pretty tame and gentle.
13. Ancient Door Knocker
The ancient door knocker with lion face can be seen everywhere in China, but in case you are coming from the West, you may find this interesting. The scary lion/animal face symbolises power and strength. Knock! Knock! Anyone home?
The first thing you will notice in Leitai Wuwei is the Flying Horse of Gansu 馬踏飛燕. Do look carefull at the hoof of the horse. The horse is only balance with one hoof which rests without pressure on a flying swallow.
Another interesting thing would be the tomb in Leitai,the tomb is so much smaller compared to any other Emperor’s tombs in China. After all, the tomb here belong to an ancient Officials only, not Emperor. So do not expect too much.
From the Leitai Han Dynasty tomb, you will discovered relics which relected the society condition of economy, politics, science and technologies development in that time.
If you are doing Silk Road China, this is one of the stop in Wuwei Gansu. An hour is enough to see the tomb and the whole complex.
Entrance Fees :
- Adult : 45 RMB
- Student & 60-70 years old : 22.5 RMB
- Army & 70 above : Free of charge