Day Six: Terra Cotta Warriors
We decided to book a tour to see the Terra Cotta warriors, since this is an hour’s drive out of town, and public transit leaves something to be desired, particularly when you don’t read or understand the language! There were only the two of us and another couple, so we headed off in a small van. The young couple live in Singapore; he is originally from Switzerland and she is from Singapore. Everyone spoke English, but we had to really listen carefully to understand the swiss accent! Our tour guide, Fong, spoke excellent English, having learned it from watching American TV. Her favorite shows are Friends and Desperate Housewives….you have to wonder what people think of North American culture from watching these popular sitcoms!
We stopped midway to visit a factory where they make reproductions of the Terra Cotta Warriors, a fascinating, painstaking process! Bryce bought the archer, which is 1/3 the size of the original; the factory takes care of shipping it to us, so it should be there when we get home! The picture of the two of us with the life size Terra Cotta warrior is at the factory, as you are not allowed to get close to the originals at the site.
The site of the Terra Cotta Warriors is laid out much like a modern university, with lovely grounds and modern buildings. Pit #1 was discovered in 1974 when a farmer was drilling a well, looking for water and discovered pottery fragments and ancient bronze weapons. The government quickly recognized the incredible value of this find, and archeologists from around the world have continuously worked since then to dig up and restore the remains. It is a remarkable feat when you consider taking bits of pottery, figuring out which warrior they belong to, and piecing them back together. Every warrior is unique, and the detail on each one is remarkably lifelike. Once they are put back together, they are placed back in the pit in exactly the formation they would have originally been in….although I have no idea how they figure all of this out!
There are now three Pits that are presently open to the public while also being excavated and the soldiers reconstructed; we spent a good four hours walking around with our mouths open. Fan started calling Bryce “Wow” because he just kept repeating that word over and over. We are just in awe of the opportunity to see what is now called the eighth wonder of the world…..and to think that it has been discovered so recently and could have easily been missed.
This is the first time that I have experienced frustration with all the people. One of my friends said that the hardest parts of travelling in China is all the Chinese people. It is a cultural thing to push and shove to get to where you want to go; there is no concept of standing in line and taking your turn. Although this is not high season, and there are a tenth of the people that there are in the summer, there were a few times when I wanted to get close to something, and it was just too frustrating to elbow my way through the crowd. I am sure that doing this trip in the summer would not be half as much fun!
The farmer that discovered the warriors has become a bit famous, and he is in the gift shop signing the souvenir book. I hadn’t noticed the sign on his desk that said “no pictures” and was busily snapping pictures of him. He got quite upset with me, banging on the desk and pointing at the sign. OOPS!!
As part of our tour, we enjoyed a delicious lunch, with something that looked like noodles, but was actually potato….so good! Once again, the tea was the most expensive item on the menu. Amazing!!
I finally braved the Asian toilets; I have been purposely restricting the amount of liquids that I have been consuming so that I could make it back to the hotel or to a decent restaurant with an American toilet. Thank goodness for all the squats I did in my workouts before leaving home, you have to squat right down as low as you can go, and there are no handles to help you get yourself back up. Thank goodness, I was able to manage without any embarrassing incidents! I am also grateful that we were warned to always carry toilet paper in our backpacks, as there never is any in the public facilities!
For supper, we were drawn back to the night market where we enjoyed more kababs, as well as a delicious treat that looked like two tortillas; you get to choose from a variety of spicy shredded or ground meat stuffings. The tortillas are wet around the edges, sealed together with the filling inside and then deep fried. If we get back home without our cholesterol going through the roof, it will be a miracle! For dessert, we found a treat that sort of tastes like a combination of peanut brittle and sesame seed crackers…..total for dinner: $3.00! We are never leaving Xian!
We had a lot of fun with different people tonight, some of whom spoke pretty good English and wanted to know where we are from, would they mind if they took their picture with us? They especially like Bryce’s mustache and even want to touch it. There are hardly any Caucasians in town, so we are quite an item of interest, and people just seem to need to stare at us! I now understand why people from other cultures tend to stick together, as every time I see a Caucasian, I get so excited, I just want to hug them! However, just because you’re Caucasian, does not mean that you speak English! People are here from all over the world, with so many different languages spoken, truly an exciting experience!