Home of the Terricotta Warriors

Trip Start Jun 08, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  ,
Monday, July 11, 2005

Yet another night train brought me through to Xi'An, this time I was continuously awake thanks to the loud tune of Chinese snoring echoing throughout the cabin... snoring is just as annoying in Chinese as what it is in English! Only 16 hours though, so it wasn't too long in the scheme of things for China.

Xi'An is a heavily polluted city, but a welcoming city with it's easy grid layout and efficient bus service. The heart of the city is surrounded with a large wall - 17m high, 12Km around with what I guess was a moat on the outer side of the wall that has been turned into a park that's in various states of repair. The walk was pleasant given that there weren't huge crowds on the wall, infact at times I couldn't see anyone. The pollution is of a concern though, visible distance would be between 500-700m, the atmosphere is just a continual heavy smokey grey haze. It plays havoc with my eyes, religiously I have to clean my contact lenses every night. I sometimes wonder if the people here have ever seen blue sky, the moon or the stars because it's so hazy. My little brolley (courtesy of Scott whilst in Hong Kong, despite my reluctance to take it, it really has been a god sent) goes everywhere with me - it's just impossible to tell the haze from the clouds!

The real purpose of my time here was to see the Terricotta Warriors, an absolutely outstanding archeological feat I have to agree. Soldiers and horses (thousands of them) which have been shattered and buried under ground have been painstakingly put back together again (a real life Humpty Dumpty work of art) this was amazingly impressive. As for the actual grandure of the army, well I don't mean to sound too unappreciative, but I found the whole site alittle touristic and sterile. The sceptic in me struggles to accept that peasants (of whom are at the site and will sign your postcards for you if you so desire... and the site promotes this) discovered the warriors in the 1970's whilst drilling a well. Both the timing of the discovery (in Chinese history) and the means of discovery is all alittle too ideal for my liking.... but hey, I'm unqualified to comment so will happily go with the flow of the many thousands of believers. The bottom line is that they are incredibly old and the archeologists have done a magnificent job in piecing the puzzle back together again. I guess the mean's of how or when they were found are kind of irrelevant to a certain extent.... afterall Maui really did fish up New Zealand.

The remainder of my time in Xa'An has been spent just hanging out really, I've been keeping up to date on the London affair (through stuff.co.nz), doing my washing, chatting to travellers, lounging around and doing abit of reading - nothing too spectacular really! The only thing that's been really missing has been a real news paper... I miss the trusty old Sunday Star Times!

Tonight I am off to Pingyao, a 10 hour train journey which will take me close to Beijing. I'm travelling hard seat this time - the cheapest, least comfortable class of travel where I believe you simply get a wooden bench pew (the ticket cost me the equivalent of NZ$5). It's university and school holidays in China at the moment and I think that all 1.3 billion people are trying to travel at the moment! Many people (travellers) missing out on train tickets. I'm anticipating an interesting experience.
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