Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Visit to Xi’ an--- the Terracotta Warriors

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The cultural highlight of our trip to China was an overnight visit to the ancient city of Xi’an to see the Terracotta Warriors. We used the internet to book a flight from Shanghai and to find a hotel. We boarded our plane for the 2 hour flight ready to be there. After getting seated, we noticed that the flight attendants were starting to serve a meal and turned on a  movie while we were at the gate. Thinking this a bit strange, we decided to inquire as to why we were not flying. We were told that we had no departure time yet! (Yes, we had one on our tickets but apparently it didn’t mean any thing! ) We were not happy travelers but had no option but to sit there impatiently for 2 hours until the plane left! The wait did not seem to bother the Chinese  travelers. No one was angry. No one asked any questions. They just sat there and enjoyed dinner and a movie! Hence, we arrived 2 hours later than planned. The travel guides that I had read stated clearly not to arrive at night since the taxi drivers charge ridiculous prices for night travelers. We made our way to the taxi stand and were greeted by a young man speaking English. He lead us to a cab and put us in it. The travel guides were absolutely right! Let’s just say the driver took the “long way” into town. Our daughter called the hotel on her cell phone and explained the situation. The hotel clerk spoke with the driver on the phone after telling us that the ride should not take more than 30 minutes.We were in the cab for an hour and 15 minutes! The driver insisted to our daughter (in Chinese) that he knew where we were going. He did know, he just didn’t tell us that he was taking the long way! The hubby noticed that the gas hand was on E so we prayed we would not run out of gas since it appeared that we were in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing around us the whole ride. No buildings, no houses, no people, just nothing. The fare was probably 50 to 100 RMB more than it should have been but that only amounts to less than $15 USD. It was more inconvenient and irritating than expensive. We finally arrived safely to our Western style hotel just outside the walled city. The walls have lights at night and are very pretty. IMG_1304 On Saturday morning we arranged through the hotel for a car and driver to take us out to the Terracotta Warriors rather than navigating the Chinese bus system since we only had that one day and were flying back to Shanghai that night. (FYI the cost for this was $100 USD.) We chose not to try to fly back on Sunday so that if there happened to be a problem with the flight our daughter would be back for school on Monday. Our driver spoke NO English but was very polite and efficient. We purchased our tickets and made our way out to the sight. There was not a lot of signage in English so we made our way to the first building on the right. That building turned out to be the museum. It was interesting but not what we had hoped for. IMG_1320The exhibits were interesting but we wanted to see the REAL THING.IMG_1330     The next building we went to was Pit #2. It too was interesting but not what we had hoped for.  IMG_1344   Pit 2 is still in the early stages of excavation.    IMG_1345We can zoom in and see body parts strewn everywhere! IMG_1354I would love to get in that pit and try to piece one of those back together!  Actually, I did get to try my hand at it, sort of. We bought three miniature (12” high) warriors for souvenirs. When we got home, the hand of one of our warriors was broken off into several pieces. I was able to glue it back together and you can hardly see the cracksIMG_1375                  Pardon this fuzzy picture, but I wanted you to see this horse’s rear end sticking out of the wall still intact!   

Finally we arrived at the next building which was Pit #1. Oh my goodness! It was unbelievable! IMG_1390 This sight is said to be the greatest archaeological discovery of the 20th century. It was magnificent. The building was huge and packed with tourists. IMG_1399It was so worth fighting the crowds. IMG_1392  There must be thousands of warriors here!  IMG_1409 Each of them is unique!   IMG_1454IMG_1458  

 Notice the details in the hairstyles.IMG_1428 This one is unusually tall and skinny. 

This is the work area.IMG_1477  Apparently they place them in a box of sand to glue them back together. IMG_1435  Some are wrapped in plastic. IMG_1446 These are the brick tiles that make the floor they are standing on.IMG_1480 The warriors around the perimeter face outside.IMG_1485We thoroughly enjoyed this adventure.IMG_1423  After spending about three hours there we found our driver and headed back to town.  As we were leaving the smog had lifted a bit and we were shocked to see that we were surrounded by mountains!IMG_1487   There were farmers along the roadside selling fruits and vegetables. Some were selling replicas of the warriors. Notice the life size warrior in the background to the left of the utility pole on the right. I wonder how you would get that back home!IMG_1493 It was hard to get a good photo from a moving vehicle. We also passed some newly constructed buildings with beautiful traditional Chinese architecture.IMG_1490Construction is booming in China. We counted 30 construction cranes in a very small area as we neared the city. Traffic was very heavy on our way back.IMG_1517Here we are approaching the walled city just before 5 in the evening.  IMG_1521IMG_1525

Here we go through the gates!IMG_1528 You can see how thick the walls are. I was told that you can rent bikes to ride on top of the wall but we didn’t have time in this whirlwind trip. Inside the walls the city is very modern!IMG_1526 They do still have the traditional bell tower and the drum tower. Due to time constraints we didn’t have time to explore the city but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in the time that we had. We made our way back to the airport and arrived back in Shanghai around midnight without incident! I have one more post to do on China and I have been working on some projects that I will be sharing soon!signatureandsidebar003-001-1