Tuesday, November 20, 2007

China - Day 6 - Xian & Terracotta Soldiers

(Xian at nightfall from atop the Xian City Wall)
After sleeping on a wonderful bed, I know i begin all of these the same, but trust me...if you were a 6 ft 1 inch man sleeping in hotel beds in China would be a memorable experience, to say the least. The average bed size there is at least a foot shorter than the shortest of bed sizes here, thus leaving my feet to dangle off the end of the bed like some bad comedy sketch.

Anyhow, Xian is an altogether unimpressive city. It doesn't have the lights of Shanghai or the temples of Beijing, but it is by no means short of history and or people. Xian was a isolated urban area primarily known for the terracotta warriors. Tourists went there for few other reasons, so the city didn't cater to them in any outward way other than the expected tourist traps on the way to the site. What I did enjoy about Xian more than anywhere else was it's authenticity. Albeit from the inside of the bus, Xian seemed like a city true to itself. The citizens there weren't outwardly friendly nor by any means negative. Life seemed to carry on as it were regardless of our presence. I found this very refreshing. Everywhere else wanted some piece of my American wallet, Xian just wanted me to appreciate the immense place in time it served.

We soon discovered that despite the city's few promoted attractions, there was much to discover. One of the most incredible attributes Xian hold is the Largest intact city wall in all of China. Much like the Great wall encompassed the country, the Xian city wall protected the city. Every major city in China had one, but few remain today, and Xian's is in near perfect shape.

This photo was taken atop the wall, looking at one of the towers. I didn't manage a decent one showing the actual wall as we only saw it from inside the bus. But it is incredible none the less.

We drove through the city on our way to a farm on the outskirts of town where some farmer accidentally discovered one of the most treasured archaeological finds in history while digging a well. He found the terracotta soldiers:

Now I haven't been to many archaeological digs, in fact I've never been to one, but I'm sure this one takes the cake. There are 3 bunkers packed with these things. Each bunker could hold a few football fields each, and each hold thousands of warriors. It really was a sight to see.

Like most tourist destinations, we were herded through the compound with thousands of other visitors, all taking as many photos as memory cards would permit. Some coming out nicer than others, some not coming out at all, and some looking like some kind of metaphysical photography of people taking photos of people taking photos...or something:

We also managed to see some pretty cool hot springs while in Xian. Some emperor built this to warm up during the winter which apparently is rather cold.

Apparently that mountain in the background had a couple natural hot springs that were discovered then exploited and rerouted into bath houses and man made lakes. It made for a rather scenic setting, and a pretty nice place to clean up with a few of your favorite concubines.

Jessica took this of a concubine statue from inside the Hot Springs. Those emperors had a pretty rough life ;)

We ended our day with a relaxing local dinner. Anxious to start our next day on our way to Shanghai.

Days 1-2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 Day 9 Day 10 Days 11-12 Day 13


1 comment:

Norma said...

I really enjoyed your whole blog... I liked the picture of the boat on the lake near the pearl place alot. I liked all the pictures and it was fun reading.