Ancient warriors, how a rickshaw nearly killed us

Trip Start Dec 04, 2006
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Trip End Aug 05, 2007


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Monday, December 11, 2006

Nathan here - We left Beijing early Sunday, December 10 for a relatively quick flight (2hrs) to Xi'an. If there is one thing I'll say about flying in China, it is that things are very organized and structured.  Travelers check-in on time.  Flights depart and arrive on time.  The passenger to flight attendant ratio feels as though it is one-to-one.  They're quick to serve drinks and a hot meal.  On that note, I tried the Chinese breakfast and can say, quite assuredly, that I do not like luke-warm rice porridge.  Thank god for free coke.  Took a bus from the airport into town and found a suitable place for one night close to the train station. 
 

 
Our main purpose for coming to town was to see the famous terra cotta warriors.  Fans of Amazing Race would have seen them in a previous season. Well, it is worth the trip.  In the Spring of 1974, a number of farmers near Xi'an discovered some ancient bronze weapons and pieces of broken terra-cotta armoured warriors while sinking a well. This turned out to be one of the most amazing archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century. Excavations since then have found 1800 terra-cotta warriors, but it is estimated that there are at least 6000 more still to be excavated.  
 
The terra cotta warriors are in battle formation and include cavalry, infantry and charioteers. They are a replica of the Qin army and were created over 2200 years ago. Interesting to note that each warrior has a different facial expression and carried a bronze weapon that remained sharp throughout the years.
 
Kudos to Lonely Planet for correctly identifying the one inexpensive public bus, among a gazillion other buses, that took us approximately 1hr to get there.  The Chinese have clearly figured out that this is a major tourist draw so they have invested heavily in infrastructure.  Things are still under construction but there will be room for shops upon shops.
 
As our photo album will show, the attention to detail is superb.  For us, it was a real highlight and worth the trip.  Once we returned to town, we spent a few hours touring the city center.  Stores upon stores abound and Tara was quite sad that our status as backpackers, not to mention our daily budget, prevented her from perusing the shelves.  Ended the evening with a ride in a rickshaw which is essentially an underpowered motorcycle with a tiny carriage attached at the back.  The ride began well enough, but Tara was screaming in short order.  Our driver ran a red light to cross four lanes of traffic, cutting off cars and a rather large bus.  Horns were blazing and I remember thinking that my femur wouldn't do much to ward off injury from a side impact.  For some reason, we escaped unharmed.  Instead of counting his lucky stars, our driver took us four blocks down a one-way street with lights and more horns blasting us.  When we finally reached our hotel, he jumped off and you could see he was having a great time of it.  Tara informs me that there will be no more rickshaw rides... 
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Comments

mljholton
mljholton on

#2 from Jim and Mary Lynne
We are glad you survived the rickshaw ride. Diana is arriving on Dec. 16 as we managed to book a reasonably cheap flight. Her furniture has not yet arrived. Tomorrow we go to work at the Pause table at Carleton University. The weather is really mild here and still no snow. We have put the chicken wire up so now Nala can roam the backyard. Take care.

jjorna
jjorna on

asian transport
Just wait for the Tuk Tuks in Thailand...not only do they try to get you killed but they also habitually abandon you in ridiculous places and try and scam you on a regular basis. fun times!! You guys will be professional by the time you get there from the sounds of it.

Sounds like you are having a blast! Remember...my only request is that you each come back in one, breathing piece.

Love,
Jess

nbill
nbill on

Speaking of the Amazing Race...
I'm loving your blog. It provides me with a regular dose of 'seeing' the world (too bad I'm not the one doing the travelling -- darn those mortgage payments!).

Keep up the great stories (I've loved the personal tone, especially your account of the rickshaw ride).

P.S. Let me know if you want to know who won the latest season -- I won't spoil it in case you're planning to watch it when you get home.

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