Getting from Xian airport into the city is easy, the shuttle bus is very accessible and it arrives outside the Melody Hotel which is central and it was fortunate as we were staying therel.
Across the road from the hotel is the Drum Tower as well as a small side street which takes you passed stalls that have a range of Chinese artifacts of varying quality. In and out these lanes you discover a food street with some very delicious offerings. This is the Muslim quarter which has its own special cuisine and was a change from the usual Chinese fare. This area was very crowded as it is a magnet for both Chinese and European tourists.
|The Drum Tower|
I really noticed the change in Xian from the time I was there in 2007. There has been a great deal of development. It now has a subway and shopping malls and even a number of coffee shops as well as a large Walmart.
As we didn’t have breakfast included at the hotel we decided to buy some teabags and fruit at the supermarket as well as some buns at a bakery. We had done this in Beijing and it works well and saves time trying to find a suitable place for breakfast.
The following day we booked our trip to the Terracotta Warriors and then explored the city. We went to the Drum Tower and were lucky to arrive just before a performance incorporating a variety of drums then we headed to the Bell Tower.
We walked to the wall and down the street that according to my memory was full of shops that sold chopsticks, but discovered that it was now artists’ street selling brushes, paper etc. I bought a few painting books, choosing judiciously as I didn’t want to end up with a too heavy bag. I planned to go to the museum called The Forest of Steles but it was closed for renovations, which was disappointing. We found the place to climb up to the ramparts of the city wall. It’s possible ride a bike around the whole structure we both refrained from this exercise as we both had injured knees. The best place to eat was the Muslim quarter so we went there for our dinner that night.
Up bright and early for our trip to the Terracotta Warriors. We opted for the whole day tour which included Huangqing Pool and Ban Po Village. We picked up the other members of the group and by the time we arrived it was lunchtime so as lunch was included we were ushered into a restaurant for the usual fare, nothing fancy but was satisfying and would keep us going for the rest of the day. After that we entered the gates through the souvenir shop to the hangar like building which displayed some of the finds. It is obvious that work is still in progress as the tools and tables of the archeologists could be seen and there were notices saying not to photograph them when they are working.
I have seen this display before but it is still breathtaking, especially when you realize that no two warriors look the same. It still is amazing that they still haven’t uncovered the whole army of warriors. It was interesting to learn that they were originally painted and that many have been left buried until they have worked out how to preserve the old paint on them. This is one of China’s top historical sights. The terracotta warriors were part of Qin Shi Huang (China’s first emperor) mausoleum. It was Qin Shi Huang who united the country standardizing the currency and writing. From historical accounts the tomb contained palaces, precious stones and special defenses to protect it against possible intruders. It was rumoured that the artisans who worked on the tomb were buried alive so as not to divulge any information about the construction. All that is visible of what must have been an enormous construction is a mound.
I was not surprised to see how much tourist development has occurred around this complex. It was a lot more low key on my previous visit and lunch was a ‘bun fight’ as our tour operator left us to it and eateries were very sparse indeed.
|The Terracotta Warriors|