Xian is located West of Beijing and means West Peace. Though Xian is known for its rich Chinese history, the airport and hotel that we are staying in are all very new. Xian is growing rapidly as the terra-cotta warriors' excavation site brings in approximately 5 million tourists per year. This city has a population of 9 million, a mere fraction of the 1.3 Billion people here in China,
but it's still a huge city compared to the US.
// bus riding //
First stop was the terra-cotta factory where we learned how terra-cotta is made, sculpted, painted and fired. Back then, around 218 BC, different kinds of metals were used to regulate the temperature inside the kilns. We learned that each face was hand-carved, the shoes, hands and hair are all different, too.
Next stop was the excavation site of the 8th wonder of the world, the Terra-Cotta warriors housed in the Terra-Cotta Warrior Museum. These soldiers were discovered very recently in 1972 by a farmer here in Xian. He unearthed one of the heads and thought it a bad omen for his farm as opposed to a significant archeological discovery! It was actually a reporter here in China that heard the news of the terra-cotta head that was unearthed and alerted the Chinese government.
Over 6,000 soldiers have been discovered so far, each of their faces and hairstyles are uniquely different, no two are the same. Many different kinds of soldiers have been discovered: generals, foot soldiers, cavalry, common soldiers and arch men. These life size soldiers, horses and chariots were created to guard the emperor's tomb. Three pits have been excavated here, and it is believed that there are many more. The emperor's tomb has not been opened yet, though attempts have been made, the tomb is booby-trapped and those that have tried to enter never came out. Archeologists are also waiting for advancements in technology so as to try and preserve the contents of the tomb. Currently, when these relics are unearthed, the second the oxygen touches the findings, corrosion deteriorates
the items almost instantly.
We ate lunch at the Friendship Restaurant in the museum. It's buffet-style with two stands, one where 2 men prepared a thinner ramen type noodle for soup and another where two men prepared a thicker udon type noodle for a beef noodle type dish. They were both phenomenal. I ate 3 bowls of soup and 2 bowls of beef noodle :)
// school bus //
Back to the hotel to shower then we hopped back on the bus and went to a dinner show where we tried 18 different types of dumplings and were entertained by various traditional Chinese dances and musical performances. The dumplings were delicious, we had many different kinds that included pork, tomato, cabbage, duck, walnut, chicken, ham, seafood and mushroom. The traditional Chinese dance performances were just beautiful, the backdrops were spectacular and the costumes were so elaborate and stunning.
// dumplings //
With numerous failed attempts to go out in Beijing, we were determined to experience one night out in Xian. It was raining and Linda ran the 4 of us girls across two busy intersections, these intersections dont have stop lights and cars don't stop for pedestrians-- not going to lie, it was terrifying.
She took us to this hotel bar/club that was filled with locals. She told me that the men had a lot of money (but not a lot of class) and the women were all C and D list actresses. $70 US got us a table, bottle of Absolut, spiced peas, duck intestines (not kidding) and a fruit platter. There were a couple of performances which included a man carrying two other men while walking on glass, a fat lady singing and lastly a beauty pageant of some sort. We never figured out what the beauty pageant was, but almost everyone won a crown and lei. One of the men from the club walked us back across the street and to bed we went.
// spiced pig intestines //