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Lolo's Travels

Xi'an and the Terracotta Warriors

CHINA | Sunday, 12 March 2006 | Views [2245] | Comments [1]

Hi everyone!
I figured I could get a little email in before catching my night train to Chengdu; I have a few hours to kill!  The hostel here is great ~ email, comfy couches and dvds, great food, and music playing all the time.  Last night I stayed up pretty late, hanging out with some people I met in Datong  ~ Christian from Sweden, and Chris and Josey from the UK.  The speakers dad got me have really come in handy, we had a good time looking up songs we hadn't heard in a long time on the iPod and listening to them while enjoying a few drinks.  Unfortunately for me, beer is the cheapest drink by quite a bit here, so I kinda stuck to jasmine tea (my new addiction).  I need to find out, by the way, from Marky ~ is Apocalyptica a Swedish band? 
 
Anyways, I did a tour of the Terracotta Warriors the other day, which was pretty amazing.  Hard to believe that these lifesize figures are literally 2000 years old.  Each one has individual features ~ the solders that made them modeled them after themselves ~ and were entombed as eternal guardians of Chinas first Emperor, Yin Zheng.  He is actually better known as Qin Shi Huang, or 'first emperor of Qin province'.  There are 6000 warrior and horse figures currently excavated, or undergoing excavation or restoration ~ but its thought that there may be up to a million yet to be dug up closer to the actual tomb.  The reasoning behind this is, 6000 troops would be considered an awfully small army for that time period!! 
 
You literally walk into a huge "stadium" with a walkway all around a massive excavation site ~ like a pit of dirt ~ and there are hundreds of soldiers all lined up as if for battle , just as they were buried.  The were even buried with real weapons ~ but many of them were stolen right after the emporers death by rebel tomb raiders, who then used the weapons to kill the emperors son.  Quite an insult; to use the weapons intended to guard the emperor for all eternity, to kill his son instead. 
 
When the first warriors were initially excavated, they were colourfully painted, but the paint rapidly reacted with the oxygen, and crumbled to dust ~ leaving the warriors their original terracotta colour.  This is the main reason that much of the army remains underground ~ the Chinese are waiting for technology that will allow them to preserve the original paint on the figures!
 
One of the most interesting facts is that the entire army/tomb was only found by accident, in 1974, by some peasants who were digging a well.  And when you look at the spot where the well was, within the pit, its literally at the very edge.  A couple of feet or metres in another direction, and the army might have gone undiscovered for another who knows how many years!!
 
Anyways, despite it taking a full day of buses, and a few annoying stops at souvenir shops along the way, it was a worthwhile day.   
Yesterday the 4 of us (Christian, Chris, Josey, and I) wandered around Xi'an, stopping for coffee at a pseudo-starbucks shop, and eventually hit upon the old Muslim Quarter of the city.  Xi'an was the Eastern terminus for the Silk Road, and so camels laden with exotic stuff from the middle east arrived here regularly back in the day....it must have been an amazing city then, with its now crumbling city walls intact, and Buddhist monks mingling with Chinese imperial officials and Islamic emissaries. 
 
So, there is a section of town with mosques, and loads of skewers of meat cooked over fire pits in the streets....vendors and meat shops and tea shops and so many interesting faces.  We had a really great dinner here; with yummy garlic chili eggplant, and a potato dish best described as julienned, slightly undercooked potato with SPICE.  So good.  The others, of course, had beef and pork dishes etc.  The only complaint is the oil ~ other than that, the food here is a thousand times better than 'chinese' food back at home...
 
This city is one of the more interesting I've seen in China thus far, so old!  The city was already a fully established world city 2 centuries before Rome was founded, 2 centuries before Homer wrote 'The Iliad' and the 'Odyssey', and a full 5 centuries before Buddha attained enlightenment.  Incredible history.  (and I'm expecting it to get better, the further along I go in China!)
 
Anyways, next up ~ Chengdu.  From here, I need to renew my visa for China ( I only have a week left, otherwise!!), book my cruise on the Yangtze River to see the 3 Gorges, and see the giant Pandas in a breeding park.  I'm also hoping to do a horse trek a little further east, but this all depends on cash of course.  China is a little more expensive than the developing nations in SouthEast Asia, which is obvious i guess, but something i'd somehow overlooked when I made my decision to stay here 2 months.  Its eating a hole in the budget, for sure!!!
 
Hope all of you are doing well, and anticipating spring eagerly...I'm sure you are after winter ~ I sympathize with you after Beijing, let me tell you!
Lots of love, miss you all....
xoxoxo Laura
 
 

Tags: Sightseeing

Comments

1

Hi everyone wereva u are..........

  Jeremy Brown Jul 27, 2009 2:45 PM

About lolo

Me at CKS Intl. Airport, very bored.  I was there from about 12midnight until my flight to Singapore, about 7am.  Ha ha, and also ~ you can see up my nose!  (but I still like this pic....)

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