Hot-springs and Pottery People.
Trip Start Jan 22, 2010
26Trip End Apr 30, 2010
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To the west of Xi'an is the winter palace, built to take advantage of the hot-springs. The 7th Tang Emperor and his favourite concubine, Yang spent ten years there, neglecting the empire until the peasants revolted.
Yang, one of the great beauties of China, reflected the preferences of the day, and was apparently short and fat. Her flaw, as all beauties must have one, was a bad case of BO. Maybe there was a reason they spent 10 years at the hot-springs.
The palace has numerous bathing pools in beautiful surrounds, overlooked by mountains
A short car ride later, we arrived at the massive Terracotta Army field base. The whole complex went on for miles. We ran the gauntlet of the farmers turned hawkers before gaining access.
I thought I would find the Warriors a little boring. After all, whenever I have been somewhere really famous, like Niagara Falls or Stonehenge for the first time, I've often come away disappointed, as they don't live up to the hype. The Warriors are described as the 8th wonder of the world, so I was prepared to be underwhelmed.
When it came to it, I was absolutely in awe. The sheer wealth of detail in each Warrior, the age (2000 years buried in the ground) and the immense job it has been to try to piece the Warriors back together (they were all smashed and needed reconstructing, like a million piece, terracotta coloured, 3D jigsaw); I was very impressed.
Finally, we drove to HuaShan, the mountains village a couple of hours further west. I have been looking forward to this part of the trip for several months, partly as an escape from cities and their dirt
No such luck. The haze of pollution was so thick, we couldn't even see the mountains and we were driving right past them. Disappointed, we checked into the HuaShan hotel, where the room smelled of smoke and the beds were firm, bordering on unyielding. At least the pillows weren't stuffed with sand, unlike in a couple of places we've stayed.
We ate chicken and garlic mushrooms with Peter at a restaurant across the street. The restaurants had cages of chickens and rabbits outside. Ours had a tank of fish, too. Pick your own takes on a whole new meaning.
Mum was lucky enough to discover the entire rooster's head in her dish. It still had the comb and beak. Peter said she should crack it open for the brains. I offered Mum my spoon to do it with, but for some reason, she turned me down. She managed to get out of eating it by skidding it sideways across the table with a sudden squeeze of her chopsticks.