We have enjoyed our stay in Xi’an. The city is bustling with life all the time – during the day all the shops are open, blaring out music and sales speaches, street vendors and markets are everywhere selling food, clothes, Nike trainers, mobile phones, toys, even fish and puppies (we were pretty sure they were for pets and they looked healthy, just not quite sure of thier selling technique)?! At night all the food markets come alive, lots of smells (some good, some bad) everywhere, and street entertainers at every corner.
In the centre of the walled city (the city expands well outside the historic wall) stands the Bell Tower, a 14th century structure which used to ring the bell to mark dawn. Inside we saw a traditional music performance which was great, and the views from the top were fantastic.
Xi’an is the home of the Army of the Terracotta Warriors – very very impressive. We got a bus to see the excavation area and museum – this was an expereince in itself as the driving here is absolutely manic. Literally hold on for dear life and hope for the best!!!!
A bit of Terracotta history – the Army is one of the most famous archaeological finds in the world. Dating back over 2 millennia, the Army were found completely by accident in 1974 by some locals drilling a well.
There are 3 pits, each containing different peices – pit 3, believed to be Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s army headquarters, contains 72 warriors and horses. Pit 2 – contains 1300 warriors and horses, is still being excavated.
Pit 1 is the largest, containing 6000 warriors and horses – each face is unique, every warrior different. This is pretty amazing right? The thought is that these were built and buried with Qin Shi Huang so he could continue his rule in the afterlife. It truly is an amazing feat, and well worth the crazy bus journey!
And true to Chinese style, we were even accousted into a photo with a Chinese woman- they just love taking photos of us, even with 6000 ancient Terracotta Warriors behind us!
So far, even though we are getting stared at more often, we have found the Chinese very friendly. On the bus we were struggling for change for the driver, and we had 2 offers of money from people on the bus – that would never happen in the UK….we would just let someone struggle which seems such a shame! People have also approached us just to talk to us so they can practice thier English.
Quick note of another local food – the Chinese hamburger. Delicious! Basically spiced pulled pork in a toasted bap! No cat or dog here!
We are off on another over-night train tonight, our next stop being Chengdu and the pandas!