** Due to my inability to read Chinese I clicked on the wrong button last time and didn't publish my posts, just noticed. So FOUR(4!) new posts for ya'll. This one being my hundredth post, I await a telegram from the Queen!
Arriving in Xian, nobody else seems to getting off the train which continued all the way to Shanghai. But at least I did get off at the right station. Actually on the Chinese trains you swap your ticket for a bit of plastic with your bed number and then 30-60 mins before the stop the conductor swaps your plastic back for your ticket (which you need to get out the station!). Well at least that's how it has worked so far.
My guesthouse was quite near the station, I just needed to turn right (or was it left) and walk along the road for 10 minutes. And then zonk out, never seem to sleep well on the trains. Anyhows, Xian is a large city with over six and half million residents, most of them milling around the train station. Not helping matters is the fact that there are several bus stations abutting onto this area. Large city walls surround the centre where the large bell tower sits in a traffic roundabout. A modern city it is filled with retail shops, shopping malls and lots of hairdressers for some reason. This being China, you don't just get a shop filled with shoes you get a street filled with shops filled with shoes, great if your Imelda Marcos. In the streets around there are some food stalls serving up chicken feet, pigs intestines and other such delicacies. I opted for a chicken dumpling, while it was certainly was a dumpling not sure if it was chicken (maybe sometime better not to know)
Next day I checked my guidebook, the 306 bus heads off to the Army of the Terracotta Warriors. Outside I had a brain freeze and jump on the 608 bus. Unsurprisingly I didn't make it to the Terracotta Warriors, but ended up with a tour of Xian Industrial Estate instead, ending at the bus washing area. By the time I make it back and re-check my guidebook half the day has gone, oh well there is always tomorrow.
Next day I checked my guidebook, the 306 bus heads off to the Army of the Terracotta Warriors. Outside I jump on the 306 bus, well not quite jump as there is a sizable queue of people (mostly tourists, hence the queue instead of a scrum). Arriving at the vast grounds, people jump off buses into electric carts to be taken up to the entrance. Or you could walk! I was mildly surprised to see that the price was still 90yuan, probably about the only tourist attraction that hasn't suffered a price hike, since my guidebook was written (way back in 2005)
Qin Shi Huang might have pegged it back in 210B.C. but his ego lives on. The Terracotta Army guards his tomb, and chances are, he may have been a bit of a meglomaniac. He did however unite China and standardise the currency and writing.
Inside you enter into Pit 1 and it is massive, football stadium sized, complete with football sized crowds! 230 metres by 62 metres, which by quick mental calculation (ahem) is 14,260 square metres. First discovered in 1974, only 4000 square metres have actually been excavated. So far 2000 warriors have been discovered, it is likely to hold another 4000! Originally all the warriors held bronze weapons such as crossbows, spears, axes, swords, halberds etc. Apparently more than 10,000 pieces have been recovered but are not on display. The warriors are lined up in battle formation, each crafted with unique facial features. Some horses are found at the rear of the pit wooden chariots were originally buried alongside. A bronze chariot has been recovered and is on display at the museum, alongside some impressive individual warriors and a fat guy who was the commander!
Pit 2 and 3 are much smaller, not nearly as much to see as Pit 1, although there is thought to be another one thousand warriors in Pit 2. Full excavation of the pits could take decades (That is what happens when you dig with a toothbrush!).
Back in Xian I had a gander at Big Goose Pagoda? (b-doom tisssshh!)
Set in pleasant garden surroundings, there was a few halls with some artwork to see. In the shop a wolf-headed man statue sticks it tongue out at you while menancingly holding a couple of sticks, strange. Also a black chicken roamed the garden! Did you know that even its bones are black? Well, now you do!