Today we visited the terracotta warriors, which was very interesting to see. I hadn’t realized that so many of them were destroyed, since only the first room is ever really in the media. Just like the temple of heaven, it’s an amazing feat but it’s slightly off-putting to enjoy because you know it’s involved with sacrifice and people dying. I found the most amazing part to be that they can scan exactly where hidden warriors are and still not accidentally break them when excavating. At the gift shop, we finally found egg tarts, and the lived up to our expectations. Outside the gift shop, there were so many smaller vendors selling the same things as the main shop, but cheaper, just like at the Great Wall. It still amazes me that here, you can try and bargain literally anywhere, but in the US that’s unheard of.
After leaving the terracotta warriors, we went biking on the city wall. It was breathtaking to see all of Xi’an, and to see the contrast between old Xi’an and new Xi’an. There are lots of homogenous mid-height towers, and Xi’an is rather blockish. But, the city is surrounded by the mountains, which made for a fantastic view. The bike ride itself was harder than I expected, but it was good that there were yet more vendors along the wall that we could buy mango drinks from. At one point, we had to walk between gates because there was a visitor, and we walked through this one area with paper lanterns hanging above. Each lantern had a wish inside it, which I found to be very wholesome.
Later we headed back to the Muslim market to buy souvenirs. It was so much cheaper than anywhere in Beijing or even the vendors outside of the pagoda! Gifts were all under $10. We also found that bartering in teams worked very well. I ended up getting a mahjong set, some fans, a mini terracotta warrior, and one of the frogs that make a croaking sound as gifts for friends and family. I also saw and tried a bamboo board, which lets you write Chinese characters with just water, and when the water dries the “ink” disappears. My new street food tries included a yellow sticky rice cake with a brown sweet sauce on a skewer, and what we initially thought was ice cream balls but was actually something resembling cereal with dry ice coming out of them. It was crunch and cold, and fun to play around with the dry ice vapor. As we were walking through the market, I saw some people grabbing the large meat skewers and plastic containers out of the trash cans, cleaning them off, and putting them in plastic bags to reuse. This was weird to me, because in suburban American this is another thing that would definitely turn customers away. From the market, we headed back to the hotel and spent the night playing mahjong in my room, and later I skyped my mom for Mother’s Day.