The next part of the journey would have been the area around the city of Xian. To get there, we were to take one of the new, sleek, fast bullet trains. They travel between Beijing and Xian at a speed of 300kph and the ride is supposedly very smooth.
Xian is said to be a very nice city. There are ancient walls that surround the city, a beautiful city-center with a lovely old Bell Tower and restaurants serving up some delicious meals.
But let’s cut to the chase: Xian was on the itinerary because of the Terra Cotta Warriors. I have been fascinated by the Warriors since I first learned about them twenty years ago. The story behind them being found accidentally, by farmers digging a well, is just incredible. Even more incredible is Emperor Qin Shi Huang, sitting on his throne and thinking that he would need protection when he departed the physical world. So he said to his advisors: “Craft me an army of terra-cotta warriors to protect me in the afterlife, and make sure to add in some entertainment for the troops. You know… maybe a couple of musicians and some acrobats to keep the warriors’ spirits up”.
Knowing that the tomb of the Emperor is nearby and not going all-out to find it is also intriguing. There is the respect factor, but I’ve always heard that the Chinese Government is not so excited about unveiling the past as it has the potential to make people not so interested in the communist party’s teachings. I’m sure they know more than they are willing to share with the world, but that’s just conjecture on my part.
A few years ago, friends bought me a set of terra-cotta warriors that I absolutely love. I really wanted to see the full size ones, but you can’t win them all.
Once again, while we aren’t in China, we try to make the best of the situation. My friends, meet our newest friends = Mai Nie, Zhuo and Mei Nei (he asked us to call him Steve).
We originally met them while visiting the Great Wall, as they asked if we could take a photo for them. Since then, they’ve been a part of our adventure.
Ok, back to the excavation. The site is officially known as Emperor Qinshihaung’s Mausoleum Site Museum. The Emperor’s Tomb is located there, as well as several excavation pits where the warriors, chariots and bronzes have been uncovered. In the photo below, you can get a feel for just how big the excavation area is. The enclosure was built to protect the warriors from the weather while the restoration goes on.
To date, there are 8,000 known warriors that have been found and are being restored.
Wei Wei Update: Recently, 200 more have been discovered.
Wei Wei Fun Fact – Did you know that the warriors face east? That is the direction that the Emperor’s enemies came from.
There is a very good documentary from the Smithsonian Institute that talks about the tomb, the warriors and shows the restoration process. It’s available to view on YouTube.
All that imagining makes me hungry, so we also managed a couple more tasty dinners. This time Sue made Chow Mein with Shrimp and a Cabbage and Pork Stir Fry. Both were delicious and full of healthy vegetables – we may need to slide in a taco night just to offset the healthy food.
So after some fun, it’s time to move on again. For the next few days, we would have been enjoying the city of Chengdu. See you there soon.
I loved the city of Xi’an when I visited. I think its “city personality” is similar to Beijing’s, open, frank and a bit rough. But I was not very impressed when I finally saw the terracotta warriors… maybe because there are copies everywhere and seeing the real ones doesn’t seem so different, haha.