Before I came to China, I had the misconception that pollution was going to be horrible everywhere and I wouldn’t be able to breathe outside without a mask. Once I got to Beijing I realized how wrong I was. China really put in great efforts to clean up their skies and the only reason people really wear masks is for a fashion statement. Turns out I was wrong again when I dust storm kicked up in Xi’an in the afternoon right when we were supposed to go bike riding on the city wall forcing my asthmatic self to ride with a mask on or suffer a horrible fate. Still I had a great last day in Xi’an.
Our seventh day began with a tour of the Terra-cotta Warrior excavation site. It was amazing to see the detail put into every soldier and you can definitely tell it took a while to finish the amount of soldiers they have. The same thing for the archaeologists. There were many statues that were previously broken but had to be put back together in a clearly tedious process. There were three different excavation pits with pit one and two contain the most excavated warriors. Apparently there are 8000 total soldiers but between the three pits there are only about 2000 shown. Our group started from pit three and then ended with one since that was the nicest, and it turned out to be my favorite. Pit one was really a sight to behold with so many warriors as well as so many people trying to see them. To get a front row picture of the statues I had to push through a small crowd of people to get a good angle. Tensions were high there because of the amount of people pushing and a couple fights almost broke out. I couldn’t understand what was going on because they were yelling in Chinese but I could tell they weren’t happy. There were tools and equipment around the site which showed that excavation still went on but currently it is stopped. This is because archaeologists are trying to preserve the color of the soldiers even though once they are fully excavated the paints oxidize because of their age. Once they figure out a new technique they should be able to get back to work.
Biking on the Xi’an wall was actually pretty fun considering the conditions I had to deal with. Looking back I just wish the skies were clearer so I could enjoy the view more and not have to struggle with keeping my mask on while I biked, which I ended up just giving up on. Trying to manage the biking was hard enough considering I hadn’t ridden one in maybe four years, but everyone knows that you never forget how to ride a bike (and everyone was right about that). Just like the Great Wall and Forbidden City the groundwork on the wall was not my favorite because of how bumpy it was. Riding on the bike made it less noticeable though. After the ride, everyone ended up staying in for the rest of the day because of the dust storm making for a chill last evening in Xi’an.