It was time for the much-anticipated Terracotta warriors. These sculptures were created to depict the army of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. The sculptures were buried with the emperor when he died, and they are supposed to protect him in the afterlife. The warriors and horses are in battle formations. The discovery of this excavation is very significant, and I was surprised to learn that it was fairly recent. The army was found around 40 years ago and has been significant to the “Qingyong People.” Since these findings, they have been able to fulfill their dreams of building a leading museum in the world. The museum has made great progress in uncovering these artifacts however they struggle to preserve the original colors of the warriors. This is because once the artifacts are dug up, they go through artificial change. New technology is still being developed to prevent this from occurring. At the museum, there were 3 pits of excavated Terracotta warriors that we visited. Pit 1 is the largest of the three. However, pit 3 was the most memorable for me… but for a different reason. Pit 3 was the most packed and the one that Dr. Li prepared us for. There was a popular photo spot that overlooked the entire pit and provided the best view of the warriors. Everyone was fighting for this spot. We did not wait long but we had to fight for our turn. I almost felt like a warrior. Older women are not to be messed with. When they want their picture, they will get it. The Great Wall was tiring on my legs, but my upper body was given a workout by being shoved so much. Who knew this trip was a full body workout?
After lunch, we heard fireworks from a wedding ceremony and at the city wall, we saw wedding photos being taken. The bride wore a red dress which is customary in China. The guy wore a decorative suit and I enjoyed this difference from western styled weddings. There are other customs that are different from America. The groom goes to pick up the bride and must go through adventures to get her. He then drives her to the reception. Our Asia Institute guide, Liliana, told us this as we were biking along the city wall.
Later in the day we noticed that the sky was visibly different. After a talk with our guide, Kevin, we found out that we were experiencing a sandstorm. The wind was blowing sand from the northwest of the city from a big desert. Usually, the sky is already white because Xi’an is most known for its coal as it is an industrial city. But this was different. So, we all got masks to keep the sand from affecting our breathing. However, our next stop was the city wall. It was up high, so it was very windy. We biked the entire length; it was 8 minutes biking and 1 mile walking. Biking with the masks was kind of difficult. Mixed with the wind, and very bumpy roads, the ride was anything but smooth. Regardless, I still enjoyed biking the city wall.
We also learned that it was the 11th anniversary of the strongest earthquake in China. The Sichuan earthquake had a magnitude of 7.9 and caused great damage; the earthquake resulted in nearly 70,000 deaths. Kevin told us about how he was in high school physics class when the earthquake hit. He was sleeping in class and his class was forced to hide under their desks.
Some last thoughts on Xi’an. It was more of a city than Beijing. The buildings are more similar to each other and they have the same design which I found interesting. I enjoyed this city more than Beijing but we do not have as long here.