The demons have been officially exorcised. The second trip to Xi'an was a success. Good weather, much like last time....big crowds, similar to last time...but successful. All objectives completed, and enjoyed.
My friend Simon and I arrived on Saturday morning and in the afternoon we opted for a more expensive, but much safer option of transport to head out to the Terracotta Warriors UNESCO site
. We hired a private driver to take us out there instead of going by bus, and it paid off. We arrived in short order and got to behold the sight of the Terracotta Warriors. We started in Pit 2 which is largely un-excavated so far. It is a very large building with a massive pit, but there are only a few sections uncovered showing fragments and bits and pieces of warriors and horses. Pit 3 was next, which is a very small pit but in this one are a few completely restored warriors and horses. Many of the warriors are without heads and horses without tails, but for the most part they are immaculate. All of the warriors are empty handed as long ago the tomb was raided and all of their bronze weaponry (crossbows, bows and arrows) were looted. Finally we went to Pit 1, which is the largest, and most famous pit that houses several hundred restored warriors lined up guarding the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty. A very impressive sight.
The second major stop of the trip was to return to Hua Shan (Mount Hua) and climb to the top of the South Peak to walk the plank walk cliffside trail. Last time we went by bus and got stuck in a traffic jam for 11 hours which ruined our chances of reaching the top of the mountain to go on the cliffside path. Well, fortunately this year a new train station was built and it has a stop at Hua Shan Village, so we were able to take a fast train out there which took only 35 minutes
! This time we got to the ridge atop Hua Shan around 11 am instead of 5 pm. We managed to work our way through the swarms of Chinese tourists and reached the plank walk....success! It did not disappoint. What a breathtaking view and heart pounding path. Especially when you are sharing such a tiny little trail with so many other people. You literally shuffle along a foot wide plank that is connected to the side of a cliff by steel pegs. Below your feet is a drop of at least 1000 feet. I really can't even estimate how far down it is, but very far. You are equipped with a harness with two caribeeners (spelling?) that you can hook onto some cables to hopefully save your life if you fall. Its funny how even on such a dangerous trail, you will cross paths with teenage Chinese girls who are so scared they are in tears, yet they still can't pass up the opportunity to snap a photo with a foreigner! Haha, too cute. Anyway, the rest of the trip here, I basically did the same things as last time, so for now, here are some photos of the things I didn't get to see last year.
By the way, Alison. Wish we could have done these things last year. Live vicariously through the pictures!
We have a 6 day break near the start of June during the National Exams break in China. This is a perfect time to try AGAIN to see the Terracotta warriors and walk the plank walk that Alison and I were unsuccessful in doing last year. Last year, in perhaps the most disastrous trip of my life, we were met with massive traffic jams, and hordes of people that ultimately caused us to miss out on our two primary objectives of the trip. This year I hope should be different as the national exams are not a national holiday. Fingers crossed!