The Terracotta Warriors

We have had a great day. We set off at 1000am for the hour long journey out to the site of The Terracotta Warriors. The warriors were discovered in 1974 by a small group of local men digging a well. Ranked with The Great Wall as one of China’s top historical sights, the life size army of 6000 figures are stunningly well preserved and probably the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century.

The army dates from 210bc and the documentary we watched in Vietnam explained that they stand watch over an ancient imperial city. The first emperor of China (Qin Shi Huang) had the army built to protect him in death. The majority of the site has not yet been excavated due to the huge costs involved and it is thought that a larger army may lie around the emperor’s tomb which is 1.5km away. The mausoleum itself also remains at the moment undisturbed. Probably containing many treasures, historical reports describe how the workers were all buried alive in the tomb to protect its secrets.

We stop off on the way at a massive factory selling reproduction warriors and some beautiful Chinese carpets, furniture and wall hangings. We’re not really too interested though and just have a quick scout around before jumping back into the car. Soon we are
on “The Terracotta Army Motorway” (Very impressive) and before long arrive at the site.

There are 3 pits to see and we head straight for pit 1. The largest pit containing 6000 warriors, it’s really impressive. I had heard that the warriors aren’t as big as expected but we were all awed by them. They looked big enough to me and I definitely wasn’t expecting the detail on them to be so fine. However we were surprised to see that many of the warriors were broken. Simon read that they were unfortunately destroyed by subsequent imperial dynasties when the Qin dynasty was over.

Pits 2 and 3 have only been partially excavated and we tell the kids they will have to return in 50 years time when the full extent of the site is known. We walk around all three pits, they are all covered and we can just make out some of the warriors underneath the earth. It’s an amazing sight and we felt one of the top things to see on our wish list for our trip. We take lots of photos and after a couple of hours head back to the car.

We are going to stop off at Huaqing Pool on the way back for some lunch and to see the hot springs. I have read that the naturally occurring springs were a favourite place for relaxation for the emperors of The Tang Dynasty and their favourite concubines. When we get there I can see why. The backdrop to the pools is a beautiful mountain range and the whole area is very pretty with some carefully restored palace buildings from the Tang era. We wanted to try The Imperial Toilet but got too intimidated by a fella who told Maisie off for putting her fingers on the side of a fish tank and all scuttled out

Its 9pm now and I’m feeling quite tired, we got back to our lovely hostel and I spent an hour chatting to a fella from Holland. His 8 month overland trip through the Middle East sounds very interesting and he assures us that Iran, Afghanistan and The Lebanon were beautiful places with friendly people. At the moment though I think I’ll take his word for it and don’t have any plans to visit any of those places in the future.

Just got back from shopping I bought some new sunglasses and a few other bits and pieces. Simon and I were saying on the way back how great it is to be able to nip to the shops at 10pm here. Also how we were surprised how big Xian is. (6.5 million people)

We are leaving Xian tomorrow for Chengdu and I will be sorry to leave. Xian is a lovely city with much more to offer than just the warriors. Unlike Beijing I felt very comfortable here and it’s been a pleasure to be able to buy the things that I want, see some of the lovely sights and chill out a bit. Can’t wait to get further south though. Everyone describes southern China as fantastic and as the thought of travelling to Tibet is firmly in our minds now we want to investigate that a little more. Better buy some warm stuff if we go there or maybe hire a llama/yak to cuddle up to, we shall see.