This morning started out a bit hectic- Krish and I both slept through our alarms despite turning in relatively early. Luckily, we woke up with around fifteen minutes to get ready, so we made the bus on time but couldn’t get breakfast. Our first stop of the day was the Terracotta Warriors. They were discovered by a lucky farmer in the 1970’s and are still not fully excavated. We explored 4 different buildings in our time there. The first contained the best-preserved warriors and related artifacts. I was not expecting this based on pictures I had seen, as it felt like a museum more than an excavation site. Next, we visited the excavation pits. The first didn’t have many warriors visible, and we were told that it was because the pit was still being excavated. There is currently a halt on excavations because scientists are looking for a way to preserve the original colorings of the statues (once they are exposed to air, there is an irreversible discoloration that occurs). The second pit we visited is considered the command post for the warriors because of the concentration of generals. This was the smallest of the three pits but contained more visible statues than the first pit we visited. The final pit we visited was the largest pit with the most warriors. This is likely the pit you think of when you think of the terracotta warriors. This pit was packed with tourists. I had to fight my way to the front for a good picture then fight my way back out of the mob- Chinese grandmothers are aggressive and pushy! After leaving this pit, we were ready to leave for lunch.
We went to a buffet style restaurant for lunch. It consisted of Chinese food similar to what we had eaten to that point, but it did feel a bit Americanized. We weren’t even given chopsticks, which really felt like cheating and took away from the authenticity of the meal if you ask me. The Chinese burgers and ramen noodles at this restaurant were both the best I had tasted in my life, however. With a full stomach, we left the restaurant for the Xi’an City Wall.
Time for a note- after lunch, we were given surgical masks. I figured I would need to wear one during my time in China, but never thought it would be for anything other than pollution. Turns out, there was a terrible dust storm which is what warranted the masks.
At the wall, we had the opportunity to ride bikes around its entirety. It was very cool to get some exercise and see parts of Xi’an that we did not have the opportunity to see prior. We were told to go slow and enjoy the views, but there were times where we couldn’t help but race. Chinese bikes flip the handbrakes, which was very weird to get used to especially with the amount of biking I do in the United States. Luckily, no one fell as a result of using the wrong brake to my knowledge (even though that would be hilarious to watch). After the ride it was back to the hotel.
For dinner, we ate at the hotel because of the dust storm happening outside. Its no wonder many Chinese people own face masks for daily use! The meal included some of the most delicious soup I had ever eaten. Post meal we explored the area surrounding our hotel but didn’t do anything very notable.
As today wraps up, so does our time in Xi’an. In my opinion, it was a much more authentic experience than Beijing. Tomorrow we board the bullet train again and head to Shanghai, the city that is “more New York City than New York City,” to quote Nancy. I can’t wait!