Terracotta Army Museum is not only an UNESCO World Heritage site but it is one of China’s 7 Wonders and cannot be missed by any stretch of any imagination. Think about this. One day – in the year of my birth to be exact – some farmers are digging in the middle of absolutely nowhere for a water well and come across an archaeological site of sprawling proportions…one…in my opinion….like no other. Buried history of this sheer magnitude can’t happen more than once in ten centuries let alone one.
What did these farmers uncover? Terracotta sculptures of warriors, chariots and horses even acrobats, musicians and other ancient figures depicting in large part Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China’s army, buried with him in 210-209 BC whose purpose was to protect him in the afterlife. The estimate in 2007 was well over 8,000 figures and get this – they are ALL distinct from each other. No two look alike.
How do you get there? Go to Xian Railway Station. Facing the front of the station walk to your right and look for Tourism Bus 5 (306). Get on it. They will collect the fee of $7 yuan on the bus. It takes an hour. Go to the very last stop (12th stop) and get off the bus. You are there. Ignore the very pushy people trying to get you to board the “fake” 306 as who knows where you will end up. They got me to get on it. It looked comfortable and had ac and was allegedly only $9 yuan but I saw other tourists (Asian) blow these pushy people off so figured they must know something and got off the green “fake” bus and got on the 306 as I was originally instructed. In part, because I don’t like liars and felt the fake bus people were exactly that and pushy and insolent trying to take advantage of people like me who are not in the “know”. When you return to the bus parking lot after visiting the museum return to Tourism Bus No. 5 (306) to return back to the station.
Best part of the day for me and, in fact, the best day I have had in China thus far results from meeting 4 amazing young Chinese college students from Chengdu. It is because of them today I learned where Sichuan or Szechuan sauce comes from (their province is known for the best spicy Chinese food in all of China they tell me) and they taught me that the young generation of Chinese people are an incredible group of people although I had suspected as much. They changed my opinion 180 degrees. I learned so much from them from generational differences, to politics, religion, history and every other thing under the hot hot China sun that I have wanted to know. They reminded me that lack of education which was unavailable to most of the people in generations preceding theirs is the reason for a lot of the behavioral differences we don’t much like about the Chinese as a whole including, without limitation, the standoffish way they can be and the cutting in line, spitting, etc.
Best part of the tour for me (and seemed to be for my new friends) was the UNESCO World Heritage photography section. I was blown away to see photograph after photograph of places I had been in the world. Places I had my own beautiful photographs of. Of course, the place was identified in English next to the frame but for 90% of them, I didn’t need the assistance. These young people were just asking me not two minutes before where I have been in the world and why I liked certain places and I was able to point to beautiful reason after beautiful reason. I used to open airplane magazines and travel books and pray I would get to go those places in the pictures on that wall and now I was pointing to pictures and teaching young people about the places I have been. It was surreal.
How did I meet them? I tapped a woman on the shoulder with my fan to tell her to get back in the que. She tried to cut in line three times and the last time she started screaming at the top of her lungs in Chinese as if I could understand. I smiled to myself and my new friends introduced themselves by telling me how to say “don’t cut in line” in Chinese before explaining to me that this was one small thing the current president is working on altering about his people so that the Chinese will be considered less disrespectful to the rest of the country. I explained to them that I understood why they do it because it is so freaking hot and there are so many freaking people. They agreed but also explained that the cultural difference comes from lack of education as I mentioned before. The new generation, however, is being educated in the ways of the world and, in particular, the ways of the western world. It wasn’t long ago 1966 to 1977 when Chairman Mao’s revolution against the Dynasty changed China forever and the last two administrations/presidents who felt that America must be doing something right given its economic stability so they learned why and instituted measures to accomplish the same goals here. And let me tell you, it is working and working with America is working. This fascinates me as does the alleged reasons for the remaining censorship in place. The reasons, in large part, aren’t that bad i.e. it’s more of a muzzle on idiocy. I personally can’t help but get behind it. The idea is that uneducated people shouldn’t be talking about things they know nothing about….Probably should include me…I also taught them something too – when you want to say “I will follow you” whether that is I will follow you on your blog or I will follow you wherever you are going, you don’t say “I’m after you” the way they were using it. This could mean something totally different in the English speaking world…think stalking! It became the joke of the day as I said “I’m after you” while we headed to our next adventure…
Yongxin Lane is where they wanted to take me next as it is where locals and tourists alike go to try all kinds of culinary treats from the Xi’an area and/or Shanxi province. I was warned it’s not as good as Chengdu but we would try it anyway. Since there was 5 of us, we were able to put $100 yuan on the foodie card we purchased and order one or two things from each place as we shared between the 5 of us. This is the first opportunity I’ve gotten to do just this! I tried all kinds of things I can’t name and we had them spice it up for me and the Sechuanies! Have no idea what is was called but one thing I learned sounds like bium bium wu…noodles is all I know! We, of course, had to weigh ourselves in the chair which says above it essentially “you are too much” and throw and break our saucers into the pile. Finally, in our foodie coma, we enjoyed fruit drinks and played Landowner and Farmers card game where loser gets thumped in the forehead. Lovely lovely day.
That’s all for now from Xi’an.