Day 8: I Almost Spend $30,000 on a Horse

Luckily when I awoke the next morning, I was feeling much better. After a couple of Tylenols and an amazing breakfast of pork buns and dumplings, I got on the bus to head to the terracotta warriors. We had been warned that the terracotta warriors were the most popular place in China for Chinese tourists and would therefore be insanely busy. Luckily, it was just regularly busy. There were a lot of people, but nothing out of the norm. We were also warned last year’s group had been beleaguered by Chinese people trying to take pictures of them, but luckily this didn’t happen to us. The warriors were very impressive. There were so many of them, each slightly different than the others. So many were broken though. There were huge piles of shattered terracotta. I could make out legs, arms, torsos, and even horses’ heads in the rubble. I can’t even imagine the work that will be required to restore the entire army. There were 3 pits in total, all containing excavation sites and some restored warriors. I was a little disturbed to learn than many of the artists who had built the army had been killed and buried here. After our sightseeing, we had a buffet style lunch. At this point, I was really missing western food. One of the dishes was called a Chinese burger. It was good, but nothing like a western burger. To leave the site, we had to take a very long walk through a shopping area. There were so many stores all selling the same things, I was left to wonder how any of them made any money. One gift shop was selling really nice giant jade horses. But then I checked the price tag and realized it was 180,000 yuan ($30,000)!!!!

I took a nice nape on the bus ride to the Xi’an city wall. At the beginning of this trip the bus rides were spent talking and laughing, but at this point we were all so exhausted we slept for the better part of every bus ride. Biking on the city wall was one of my favorite things I’d done in China so far. The view from the wall was great. I could see the older, shorter part of the city to the left, inside the wall, and the newer, skyscraper filled part of the city to the right, outside of the wall. The whole afternoon was a lot of fun and when I got back to the hotel I took the best shower of my life.

The City Wall

That night, we returned to the Muslim Quarter. Dr. Li took us to a restaurant to get amazing lamb soup. Apparently, Bill Clinton almost came here, and I can understand why. The soup was prepared one bowl at a time, and it was the best soup I’ve ever had in my life. After dinner we split up, and I got to try out my Chinese and my bargaining skills to buy some souvenirs. I bought a little terracotta warrior for my brother, a giant block of tea for one of my friends, and in my proudest moment I bartered a knock off Calvin Klein purse for my sister from 360 yuan down to 50 yuan. Alana got a deal on a really nice Majong set. While shopping, we bumped into Dr. Li, who was buying us all matching hats, and not just any hats, the green communist hats. Bargaining culture is something I will never understand. It’s like a little game. I know the products aren’t real, the vendor knows they’re not real, and the vendor must know I know they’re not real, but at every store we go through the same back and forth. To wrap up our time in Xi’an we bought what we thought were ice cream balls, but it turned out they were deep frozen corn balls! Our confusion over them perfectly summed up my experience in China so far.

Famous Lamb Soup

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