Xian..warriors and City walls

The next day we were allowed a lie in and met up for breakfast at 8am. The Grand New World hotel is indeed quite grand and it’s clearly used by a lot of tour groups and mostly European and Australian this time. Breakfast was a little calmer than in Beijing..in fact everything here in Xian is a little calmer. Thank goodness.
We met up with Ellen and Mr Wah and we were on our way out for a very busy day. Firstly we had to drive out of the city centre and about an hour south to get to the site of the Terracotta Warriors. It’s actually a vast city and once again really bustling. The traffic here is interesting as Mr Wah and all the other drivers spend their time weaving from one lane to the next just to gain a tiny advantage. But just like India, it all seems to work perfectly well.
The amount of development going on here is really incredible. I know we read about this back home but until you see the vast numbers of tower blocks going up even in Xian, I don’t think you can appreciate it.
The other result of all this development, I think, is that the city is filthy. Once again there is no litter or mess as such, it’s just that everything gets covered in a layer of dirty. Thick dirt and after a day out in the city I think our lungs were too. The sun didn’t manage to breakthrough the smog today and I wondered if it ever did.
Anyway…other things we passed on the way to the Warriors were once again lots of western looking shops and malls and then, in contrast as we escaped the city centre, we passed lots of roadside stalls selling pomegranates. This is apparently the pomegranate capital of the world.
We arrived near the archeological site where a whole town has developed around it. There are four hangar like structures to explore and Ellen led the way. As we entered the first and original hangar the huge expanse of the site became apparent. You immediately get the scale of the place and it was amazing to be stood seeing this ancient army of the Qin Dynasty back in 210BC. Ellen enthusiastically explained the history to us and I do know that it wasn’t until 1974 that the farmer discovered the site. In total there are 8000 warriors, 130 chariots and nearly 700 horses buried here.
This very first view right up the hangar was stunning but very, very crowded so when we saw the opportunity to go up the red carpet and get right in front and have our photo taken, Jane and I said yes. To be honest there was a picture of Tony and Cherie Blair doing the same thing and I thought we should too! We ain’t never coming back Jane, I said. This was really cool as after having our photo taken we were then allowed to wander about and take out own photos and get just a little bit closer. It did feel very privileged just for a few minutes.
Well now we were very excited and virtually skipped about the rest of the site. We saw what the site looks like when they first open it up and how the Warriors are broken into many pieces and then we saw how they painstakingly piece the puzzle together to recreate the original. It takes two years to mend a warrior. We enjoyed looking at all the different types of warrior and of course all their different faces which, as you expect all seem very lifelike with individual expressions.
There were three more halls to explore which showed different states of uncoveredness but the first one was by far the most impressive. Of course we had to make the most of having our photo taken with the replica warriors as well before it was time to leave.
By the time we’d finished we needed a coffee break and Ellen explained that there was no Starbucks here. However, we did find a nice Subway which served up a perfectly respectable takeaway Cappuccino.
Next stop on our day was back to the city and a tour of the city walls. Ellen explained that there were different options here and we could choose to go around the walls either by foot, on bikes or in a golf buggy. We chose the bikes and after some serious health and safety guidance from Ellen, off we went. The walls are 12 metres high and something like 15 kms in a square all the way round the old city and were built in the Ming Dynasty.
The views weren’t much to write a blog about what with the smog and the tower blocks but we enjoyed our free time. We didn’t get quite as far around as we thought we had before it was time to turn back and in fact had just ridden from the North Gate to the West Gate. It was a really enjoyable way to spend the afternoon but we weren’t finished yet..
Next stop the Muslim quarter. This is in fact one main street where the ethnic Muslim minority offer all sorts of different street food. It was a really lively and colourful spot. We watched them make the special toffee, selling fried whole squid on a stick and making tiny fried eggs. Then we came back through the covered alley which was the flea market. Joyce got her bartering head on here and we managed to buy some quality tut before we arrived back at the van.
In the evening the action didn’t stop. We’d booked in tonight to watch a show in the hotel and eat the dumpling banquet. More of which tomorrow…..

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Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Xian..warriors and City walls

  1. Kim

    Great pictures and blog. Terracotta army looks very impressive as does your freewheeling!

  2. Amanda

    Love the VIP pictures with the Warriors xx

  3. Rob P

    LOVE the bike picture – you should frame that for home.

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