Today, we started out early around 7:30 am to get to the Terra-Cotta Warriors. We had to leave so early to beat the swarm of tourists and locals who visit the site. I remember learning about the warriors back in the 6thgrade but on getting to the site, I realized that I had forgotten so much of the story behind the warriors.
Before getting there, from pictures tourists usually take, I thought I would be able to get up close to the warriors. I thought I would be able to see clearly for myself that each one of them did indeed have different facial features and expressions. However, most of the warriors were still in pits and could only be observed from a distance. Looking back now, that makes perfect sense in terms of preservation. If everyone was allowed to get close and touch the warriors, they would be difficult to preserve, and people could possibly misuse the opportunity.
It broke my heart to learn and see for myself that a large number of the warriors had been smashed into pieces. There was a section near the pit that looked like a little warrior hospital to put the pieces back together. The warriors there had number identifiers and belt casts. Some of their horses were also strapped onto beds and lined up. It was sad to see that so many years of hard work had been damaged but it was also inspiring to see that the Chinese people care so much about the history behind the warriors that they are able to devote time and energy to pick up the pieces, figure out the right bodies and spots, and begin to put the warriors back together. So far, they have put together over 3,000 warriors. I can’t imagine the amount of patience and hard work that process requires.
As we kept walking through the buildings we also learned that there were still warriors that have never been dug up because they require special means of preservation and excavating them prematurely would destroy them. We also learned that some of them had colors like green or purple, but the colors had faded over time. In other parts of the buildings, some warriors were kept in glass cases, so tourists could get up really close to appreciate the beauty without jeopardizing the preservation of the warriors.
In a particular building, they had a few warriors set aside against a 3D wall that seemed to go far into the distance. We were able to get close to those warriors and take pictures with them, but I still question whether those warriors are remodels of the originals.
After the Terra Cotta Warrior Visit, we headed over to the Xi’an city wall to rent some bikes. We were told the ride around the city wall would be about 9 miles and that we would all meet together at the end. I don’t know why, but in my head, 9 miles didn’t sound too bad. I told myself, “Oh that’s just 36 times around a standard 400-meter track. On a bike, that’s a piece of cake”. Boy was I wrong! The ride was fun for about the first 10 minutes and the remaining hour or so was pure torture. The wall was so bumpy so as I rode my body and head in particular just kept on bobbing. The vibrations from the bumpy ride created a weird sensation in my upper arms and started to tingle. The handle bars must’ve been made of sand paper because the amount of friction between them and my hands was unbelievable. I wasn’t sure if all of this felt so heightened because of the immense heat and the bumpy road or just because I hadn’t ridden a bike in a very long time.
After a while, we traded our bikes for a ticket and had to hike a little down the wall. We saw lots of couples, at least 5, taking wedding photographs along the wall. That was where I learned the women usually wore red dresses, and the men all black suits. I had never known that about Chinese culture and it was interesting to learn that not everyone partook in the regular white dress culture. We also walked through a little canopy where people hung their wishes from the top on colorful ribbons. Eventually, we reached the end of the hike and hopped back on our bikes to get to the starting point. Overall, the scenery was nice, and the idea of biking was fun, but it was a little more difficult to appreciate given the weather and other circumstances.