Warriors of Clay

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
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Trip End Jan 31, 2012


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Where I stayed
overnight train to Beijing

Flag of China  , Shaanxi Sheng,
Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day 1 - Terracotta Warriors, Tomb of Qin Shi Huang, Muselim Quarter at night
Arrived in Xian around 5am and decided it was to early to head to the hostel. Besides which, I still needed a ticket to Beijing.

Found that unlike Tibet where sunrise was around 7am (sunset after 9pm) here the sun was up by 5:30am. Something worth noting here is that China has only one timezone. I would need a map but am guessing that from eat to west it wider than Australia and yet still only one time zone. As a result everyone has the same time but depending on where you are you may or may not see the sun up before you and you may find it gets dark earlier than you might like.

Headed to the train ticket office around 6am and found that I wasnt able to get a hard sleeper to Beijing. the ticket guy spoke a bit of english and from what I saw on his screen I also got the impression that the hard seat he ended up selling me was one of the few hard seats that were left availble on the overnight train I was looking to catch.

Seems that taxis arent the only way around this town. Have found lots of motorised rickshaws going around trying to give you a lift as well as people on motorbikes and mopedes wanting to take you where you want to go. Back of a motorbike definatley not a good idea with my great big pack but for some reason this didnt phase the motor bike riders at all.

After a bit of wandering around eventually managed to find the bus stop where the bus that went near the hostel departed. On the way passed as park and once again saw it full of chinese doing their various daily activities. Got to the hostel around 7:30am and managed to check right in. Got to love countries where they dont force you to wait until a certain time before being able to check in. Also managed to snag the last spot on the tour that was going to visit the terracotta warriors that day.

Seems this site has 4 places where warriors are being dug up with us visiting three of them,

Unlike I initially expected it seems that most of the statues had been destroyed during a revolt after the first emperors death and the whole statues that we saw later on were the ones that had been piece back together by the archilogists. Seems the peasants werent happy with the new emperors kingdom and decided to steal the weapons from the terracotta warriors.

Started out by visiting site three which seemed to still be mostly covered by dirt. Those parts of the site note covered held broken pieces of soldiers. The only statues not broken here were the ones displaying some of the different types of statues that can be found.

Besides the emperors statue (only example in gift shop) you have 4 types of statues. Archer (kneeling and standing), Cavalry, infantary and Generals. After wandering through the gift shop I get the impression that what cavalry actually also included chariot drivers though of course the chariots by now have rotted away.

From here headed to site 2 which was a small U shape tomb with lots of standing (if headless) statues in the tomb. Probably worth noting here that a one point the statues were all painted but that any colour that remained after the statues were dug up was gone within half an hour. Seems like the old paint didnt like breathing the air. In the end all that remained of the colour were the photos that were taken when the statues were initially dug up.

Next headed to site 1. The biggest one. Lots of statues here both in the pits and standing above them where they were being pieced back to gether again. Personally I think some of the ones with missing pieces look the most interesting.

Of note here is the fact that all the warriors in the tomb have different faces. Seems that the emperor didnt want the secrets of his tomb getting out so he decided to kill all the workmen. Before that though the faces of each of these workmen were used as models for the warriors in order to give them unique faces. Another interesting note is that since the workers new they were going to be killed, a few scratched their names into the statue that had their appearance.

After the terracotta wariors we visited the Tomb of Qin Shi Huang where the emporer was buried. At the moment all there was to see was a big green man made hill that was about 300m high. Thw place is suppose to be spectacular with gem and rivers of mercury. The fact that it had rivers of mercury though has made the tomb to dangerous to excavate. At least up to date (though maybe it'll get done in the not to distant future). Seems that the previous emperor had the idea that mercury would extend his life but instead found it shortened it. Also drove him a bit crazy.

From here headed to a restuarant for lunch (Y30) which wasnt to bad for the price then back to the hostel.

Didnt do much after getting back but my gouts playing up so decided to see if I could find a pharmacy to get some of the chinese herb I used last time even though not extremely effective its better than nothing.

Failed to find a Pharmacist and instead just went for a wander near the Bell and Drum towers before wandering into the Muslim Quarter where I got some meat, cheap, on a stick for tea. Found the streets here to be quite well lite and lively with lots of food vendors and people selling souvineers. Especially liked how the cooks with their burners and pots canbe found cooking on the streets.

At one stall fried eggs were being sold on a stick. Given the size of the eggs the must have been quail or some other type of bird egg. Seems that each ball on the stick is made of two eggs with the shape given by a pan with semi-circle dimples in it.

After wandering a bit more called it a night.


Day 2 - Shaanxi History Museum, Big Pagoda, Muslim Quarter
Had been considering doing the Xian wall today but decided to wander the town a bit instead.

Worth noting that an expo is one and Im wandering whether this is the reason the towns seems so busy or whether its always like this.

Caught a bus outside the city wall to Shaanxi History Museum and got a ticket to go in. Wasnt sure I would get in at first. While the ticket was free, you had to show your Id in order to get. Didnt have my passport on me but somehow manged to get a ticket without it.

Found the place had lots of interesting exhibts. Once again their was your typical brass and pottery displays but in addition to this there were a lot of pottery exhibits. These ranged from small figures up to the terracotta warriors.

Appears some of the terracotta warriors are on display here. Nice thing here being the fact that you get get right up close to them. could also see a photo of what they looked like before the paint on them oxidised.

Other than the large terracotta warriors there were also a lot of smaller figures. Some of these were like a scaled down version of the terracotta warriors place within burial sites while others were statues showing people doing daily chores, animals, musicians or court officials. Found lots of statues of camels and their drivers and am guessing from the small signs with some of the exhibits that all of these have something to do with representing travel on the silk road.

From here walked towards the big Pagoda which took me through a large parkland area.

Found the temple within which the big pagoda resided to have a few interesting pieces. While as you can guess many temples start to look the same after a while, you still tend to find one or two interesting things in them. Within this temple were some interesting wood carvings and for the first time some stone carvings with jade. Actually the stone carving were actually jade and other stones laid on top of each other to produce a 3D image in the same way you get when you carve wood or stone. Found these to be interesting and colourful.

After wandering the temple climbed up to the top floor of the pagoda where I had some nice bird eyes view of the surrounding city and parkland. Could even see the lake in the distance wgich had some interesting buildings but given the place is a theme park, decided not to visit.

From here wandered to the main temple with its wood, marble and copper sheet carvings before making my way out and to the bus stop. Had planned to catch the same bus back but missed it so caught a different one I knew headed in the same direction.

In the end a lucky choice since it took me along a street lined with camera and computer stores. Since I only had one battery left decided to get off and see if I could find a spare one. In the end found a place that sold the battery I was after ($40) as well as a cheap chinese knockoff( $12). decided to buy both since I'm sure recharging will be an issue in Mongolia and not sure what kind of performance the chinese battery will give me.

Also quickly looked at cameras but really need to know the price before buying. When asking about the same camera in two different shops, one had a price of $50 more than the other.

After getting back to the bell tower I once again decided to wander the muslem quarter. Was thinking of visiting the mosque but in the end I didnt find it. I did find a mosque though am sure it was not the one I was looking for. Seems that the whole area is full of Mosques that are behind closed doors and not visible from the street. Seems I came across one of these.

Wandered the streets and got what I think was a prune/date tea. Once again lots of people cooking on the street. This time though I noticed an interesting feature of the cookers. Seems that while the heat is coming out of the top everything looks normal. On the other hand once the wok is place on top and completely covers the hole you get a jet of flame spitting out of a tube that is poking out of the front of the cooker. Definately not wood inside the cooker given the pressure with which you see the flames being sent out.

After a while started to get dark so decided to call it a day and head back to the hostel.


Day 3 - Xian City Walls, Transit to Beijing
Basically killed the morning in the hostel on the laptop before checking out around 11am

Had considered visiting the Taoist  temple but no bus directly to it and not in the mood to stuff around getting there and back. Instead decided to just limit myself to visiting the Xi'an city walls that still encircle the center of Xian. Note that these walls were once 7 times longer when they encompass an older larger city.

Short walk from the hostel to the south gate where I walked up onto the wall. Wall seems to be in pretty good nick (lots of rebuilding I guess). Wandered up here a bit then found a bike rental place. Had the bike for 100minutes which wasnt really long enough if you wanted to stop and have a break on the wall.

At first stopped a fair bit at the different watch towers and looked out towards the moat and park surrounding the wall. Also checked out some of the old towns near the inside of the wall. In general Xi'an seems to be a big rundown town  that pretty dirty and ugly compared to what else Ive seen in China. Found that in some place could see what I would call slums given the condition of teh buildings while other bits looked like apartment blocks. Also not to many really tall buildings within the city walls. Though a fair number around the outside.

Glad I had the bike and didnt try this walking. While the wall has some interesting bits there are a lot of parts that are just endless wall top with not much to see. In the end made it with a couple of minutes to spare before my 100 minutes were up. Definately had to speed up in a few places in order to give me more time to stop and take in the view at others. Another 20-30minutes would have been nice to circumnavigate the wall.

After returning the bike, headed back to the hotel where I killed some time before getting the bus to the train station. As always. people pushing in the queue to be the first ones on. No sleeper train for the overnight trip. Rather my last train in China was going to be the joy of a hard seat.While a hard seat has a coushin and isnt to hard the hard part is the fact that the chair is made of two boards perpendicular to each other. No give.

Also found that the window had a great big box sticking out from it making an arkward angle for my leg (guessing its heater for winter). In the end still didnt get much sleep on the train that night and felt stiff the next morning.

Train was also full of people standing and while I think I could possibly handle this on a day train, I certainly wouldnt want to do it on a night one. Would definately need to be desperate.



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