I’m getting more used to waking up early, and I don’t feel as tired as I did during the school year, but I still don’t enjoy waking up this early. Breakfast helps though because they have really great muffins. From the hotel, we traveled by bus to the Terra Cotta Army. Pretty much as soon as we got off the bus, people were taking our picture again. I still don’t get it, but I’m getting more used to it. After going through the lines and walking a little way through a large green space, we were in the “park” for lack of a term. There were 4 buildings we were going to go into. They were creatively named Building 1, Building 2, Building 3, and the Chariot Room.
We went into Building 1 first and it was not what I was expecting. I was expecting to go underground a little way before we were actually able to see the warriors, but we actually just walked into this giant warehouse that looked like a plane hangar. In this space alone, there were hundreds of warriors, all perfectly preserved over time. Some were missing heads and they looked pretty funny. One warrior actually fell over and instead of picking him up, they just placed some pillows underneath him which was also funny looking. But the warriors as a whole were extremely impressive and incredible to see. It’s mind boggling to think of how long it took to create each of these warriors with such pain-stalking detail. It blows my mind.
After Building 1, we skipped Building 2 for now and went to Building 3 next and saw some of the higher-ranking officials. A few of these statues were unfortunately broken and their remnants were scattered on the ground, but there were a few statues still standing. There were even four horses which were just as impressive as the soldiers. Again, it was amazing to see all of these statues and to see so much of China’s history in one place. In the same building, we took a class picture with all of us and some Terra Cotta warriors. I was confused at first because we were actually able to touch the statues, but then I realized there was no possible way they were real.
Once we finished the picture, we went to Building 2 to see more specialized soldiers. This was another giant warehouse (not quiet as big as the first, but still huge). Here, many of the soldiers remain uncovered because archaeologists believe that we do not have the best technology currently to preserve the statues and they will do better under ground than unearthed (thank my brother Matt for that tidbit). Interestingly, the warriors were also painted originally, but when they were uncovered, their paint wore away, so they also want to preserve the paint. They did unearth 5 figures to show people what is commonly found in this specific area. Those figures were a kneeling archer, a middle-ranking officer, a high-ranking officer, a cavalryman with his saddled war horse, and a standing archer. My favorite was probably the cavalryman man with his saddled war horse because I love seeing the horses and this one was saddled which is unique compared to the other horses we’ve seen so far.
Next, we went to the Chariot room. There were two chariots – one for the emperor and one for the emperor’s guard. These chariots weren’t life size as I was expecting, but since they were made out of bronze, they were much much smaller, maybe a tenth of the size it should be. Nonetheless, it was still very cool to see. It was very crowded in this room because there were probably at least 3 other large tour groups trying to see the chariots, so we couldn’t spend too much time in here. The time I was able to see the chariots was really cool because while these chariots may have been made out of bronze instead of clay like the others, the detail was still if not more spectacular.
We had lunch next, which was buffet style and we had “hamburgers.” They called them hamburgers, but they were more so pulled pork sandwiches on a flatbread. They were still good, just not a hamburger. There were also these corn ball things that had some purple sweet filling inside them, and while this sounds super strange, it was delicious.
From lunch, we got back on the bus to head back into Xi’an. Our next activity was to bike along the city wall for 14 km. Let me preface this by saying I am not a bike person. I don’t find them comfortable, it was 94 degrees out, and I burn like a lobster, so I knew for the next two hours I would not be thriving. That being said, it was still an absolutely beautiful view and I really enjoyed it for the first hour. It was definitely a cool experience, and I’m glad I did it, but again, I am not a bike person.
After biking, we went back to the hotel to clean up and then head to dinner. We went with Dr. Lee to a local place in the Muslim Quarters that supposedly serves famous lamb soup. I don’t know if it is famous since there was barely anyone in the restaurant, but I do know it should be because it was delicious. The soup had lamb (obviously), these clear noodles made out of potato, mushrooms, and pieces of bread that soaked up the broth. It all tasted so good and was so filling. It made all the biking worth it.
While we were in the Muslim Quarters, we decided to do some souvenir shopping, and I have to say I’m getting pretty good at bartering. Bartering is also making me learn the numbers in Chinese, and I think I’m getting the hand of it. It’s really fun to barter, and it’s going to be weird coming back home and not being able to barter for things. While shopping, we also bought what we thought were balls of ice cream, but I’m not even sure what they actually were. They poured liquid nitrogen in a bowl, placed these colorful ball things in the bowl, scooped the balls out, and gave them to us. They kind of tasted like cold cereal, and when you bit into them, the smoke of the liquid nitrogen came out and you looked like a dragon. Not what I expected, but still really cool.
After the market, I came back to the hotel and immediately crashed because I walked 26,000 steps today and my feet were starting to feel like bricks. I guess a good part of this trip is I never have any trouble falling asleep since we do so much every day.