The Terracotta Warriors - China Travel Story

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The Terracotta Warriors

The first thing on our minds when we got to Xi'an was to try to organize a trip to the Terracotta Warriors. This was after all our main reason for coming to Xi'an in the first place.

Lucky enough we found CITS (China International Travel Service) right next to the hotel and there we bought a full day tour for about 350 RMB per person and we were picked up 10 minutes later. The first 45 minutes were spent picking up other people from surrounding hotels.

Our guide Susan spoke very good English and gave us quite a lot of information. But she did not seem very keen on answering questions... I'm not sure why.

Our tour started at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda but frankly we didn't really enjoy it that much. It might have something to do with the fact that I was starving (my breakfast that day turned out to be a Coke and some Oreo's :-) and we were pretty tired after the train ride.

After about ½ hour we moved on to the Banpo Museum. On this site they found the remains of a 6000 year old village when they were planning to build a power plant. The power plant was moved and they built a museum around the archaeological site where the primitive tools and household utensils were found.

From there we moved on to a terra-cotta factory where we got some more information in the process of making things in terra-cotta. They did of course have stuff for sale there and we bought 4 little warriors. The price was 140 RMB (a very special price since it was Sunday :-).

We got back in the mini bus again and this time we drove of to the Huaqing Hot Springs which is a former resort area for the emperors and the royal family. It was a sunny day and walking around the little Nine-Dragon Pool was really nice. Nikki was particularly thrilled to see that the trees were in blossom because it is a sign of spring's onset and that the summer is near. But we were soon yanked back to reality when we saw that the flowers on the trees were fake!!

Lunch was included in this tour package and soon we headed of to a place near by to get some lunch. The most interesting dish was sweet potatoes covered in caramel. I have never tried that combination before.

After lunch it was finally time to go to see the Terracotta Warriors. The Terracotta Warriors were found by accident in 1974 when some peasants were digging a well. It soon turned out that they had found a real treasure.

The army of Terracotta Warriors was built to protect the tomb of Emperor Qin. Today there are 3 pits that have been excavated and pit 1 is the largest one with its 6000 soldiers. Unfortunately, a general went berserk here at one time and smashed up most of the warriors and took their weapons. The archaeologists have done a great job puzzling the warriors back together and the result is quite amazing.

The first place we went into was pit 1- with an interior of 210 meter by 68 meter it is like a "hangar". Not all of them have been reassembled yet but it is still an amazing sight. You don't get to come too near them as you are lead around the edges of the building but it is still an awesome sight.

From there we walked through pit number 3 which is really small compared to pit 1. This is the headquarters for the army itself. And from here we moved into pit 2 which is something like half the size of pit 1. They are still working on the excavation in here so some areas are covered with tarp and lit with floodlights. Some of the warriors found intact have been placed in glass display cases so you can get really close and look at all the details. They say that all the warriors have a unique face. We also stopped by the exhibition hall to take a look at the magnificent bronze chariots that has been found here.

To get back to the tour bus we had to walk about 100 meters. On our way out we experienced a throng of locals literally in our faces trying to sell us stuff. It was more or less like seeing a pop star trying to break through a crowd of fans :-) And they were all selling small terra-cotta warriors for... 5 RMB. Maybe the expensive ones we bought were of better quality but I have my doubts. They looked more or less the same and they also came in similar boxes. I guess we will never know but we felt that we could have maybe gotten some advice from our tour guide Susan. After all she was right there when we bought the stuff at the factory :-). There is a lot of information on the net about the warriors.

Story Courtesy to Gard

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