Bonjour from Xi'an!
This blog post is coming to you from the roof terrace at my hostel. In a couple of hours I will board my train to Chengdu and settle in for the 16.5 hour journey, equipped with books to read, a fully charged iPod and a bag full of food and drinks You can check back in a couple of days to see how my journey was but for now I'd better get on with telling you about the exciting day that I had visiting the Terracotta Warriors.
So today started with my being awoken by the train conductor at about 5am as Xi'an was the next stop. What she didn't say however was that there was still an hour to go until we would reach the station. I got up and had some breakfast then got ready to disembark as we pulled into the station. I said goodbye to Josh and his mate and after buying my onward ticket from Xi'an to Chengdu I stood outside the station and waited for my free pickup to arrive. Over the course of an hour and a half I watched it change from night to day whilst fending off taxi drivers, map sellers & beggars who all wanted to try and part me from my money and who all failed in their efforts.
Eventually my pickup arrived and after hanging around for another twenty minutes whilst he waited for another guy that he was also due to pick up, we were off! It turned out that the hostel is actually only about two kilometres from the train station and had I known that at the time I could've just walked there instead but ah well. No sooner had I checked in than I was told about the hostel's tour to the Terracotta Warriors that was due to leave in about forty minutes time. I put my name down for it as it was reasonably priced and after rushing a shower and some breakfast, I got down to the tour bus just as it was due to leave. (phew!)
There was a good crowd on the tour, mainly consisting of English people but there was an Irish guy, a German girl, a Swiss guy & an Aussie onboard too. Our tour guide Ja Ja was hilarious along with being quite informative too so everyone had a great day and the driver wasn't a maniac like the guy in Datong so we could chat on the journey without fearing for our lives. We spent a few hours at the Terracotta Warriors and it was interesting to learn about how each warrior is unique and how they were discovered by a farmer in nineteen seventy something, whom they now employ in the onsite shop. He's an old guy now and he looked quite bored really just sat there, shaking people’s hands when they were offered and posing for photos with people. It reminded me of seeing a grizzly bear in Toronto Zoo who displayed very repetitive behaviour and who really didn't want to be there, although the farmer didn't look like he'd maul you like the bear may have done had a. After originally paying him just 10RMB (£1) for the discovery, they have now realised the error of their ways and have provided him and his family with a house and money and he's actually quite a famous guy in China so we were told.
We went around each of the pits in sequence, going from the least impressive to the most and boy was the last pit impressive. There were six thousand of the life-size terracotta warriors stood in formation, each of which had been painstakingly excavated in pieces before being stuck back together and arranged in their original positions. It really was an amazing sight and I imagine it will be even more impressive in forty years time when they should have excavated even more of them.
Once we had looked at all of the pits we watched a short film on how they were made and how they came to be found, before heading to a restaurant for lunch. I wasn't too hungry so rather than pay for lunch I stood outside and watched the group of bus drivers play cards. I tried to figure out which cards beat which others in their game but I came away clueless. Once the rest of the group had finished eating we headed to the tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi; the emperor who had the terracotta warriors made and who ordered all of the workers to be killed afterwards. Unfortunately it was shut for excavation work so we just admired the man made hill from a distance before setting off back to the hostel.
When we got back I went for a walk with Anya, a German girl who was also on the tour to try and procure her a train ticket. After we had done so, we went for a wander around the Muslim quarter to try and find some food. It was full sensory overload with people, vehicles, food sellers, shops, lights, smells, and noise all around and we had to walk down the main street twice until we actually stopped for some food. We tried a few different things, from sweet potato doughnut things with sugar and sesame seeds inside to bread/pancake things with vegetables in and something that looked like fudge but which (to my disappointment) was actually made of powdered nuts and was very dry.
After walking around for a while we returned to the hostel and got a group together to participate in trivia night at the hostel. Unfortunately we didn't win free beer but I'd had a few anyway so after chatting to a few people in the hostel bar, I called it a day and went to bed.
Right I'm off to catch my train so bye for now folks!