Xi’an is one of China’s oldest cities, and at one point in time it was the world’s largest city. Today, the population figure of Xi’an sits well below that of Beijing or Shanghai, but at over 8 million people, it’s still pretty sizable. Xi’an is best known for one of the largest tourist attractions in China: the Terracotta Warriors! After seeing a special exhibition on the warriors earlier this year at the Art Gallery of NSW, I was super stoked to check out the real thing. The exhibition in Sydney and our awesome tour guide both gave me excellent histories of the warriors, but neither really prepared me for the sheer awesomeness of what I was about to see:
Pit 1 is the largest of the 3 main pits, and by large, I mean that the structure we were in surely could double as a hangar for a few 747s or A380s. Built as part of a necropolis for China’s first emperor, the warriors were meant to protect the emperor in the afterlife. It’s estimated that over 700,000 workers took part in their construction. To keep the location of the tomb secret, many of the workers are thought to have been sealed inside and left to die upon completion. Numbering well over 8,000 warriors along with roughly 800 horses and chariots, each sculpture is life-size and molded in great detail. It’s an incredible feat, but all the more incredible when you consider that these statues were completed before the year 210 BC. Insane. Look at the detail:
And don’t forget the horses:
The mostly unexcavated Pit 2 wasn’t nearly as big as the first pit, but it’s still impressively large when you take a look at the size of the room:
Fancy Pit 3 is thought to be the command post for the Terracotta Army. Higher ranking officers were located in this pit, which archeologists can decipher from the way their hands are adjusted, the clothes the sculptures wear, and their hairstyles.
After the warriors, we were cooked lunch at a local family’s home. The meal was the first of a good string of absolutely delicious meal I had in China. You can tell from the remnants on the table that we went through the food quickly.
My plans of biking on Xi’an’s city walls – some of the oldest and best preserved city walls in the world – were foiled by torrential rains that lasted all afternoon and into the evening. So, I decided to have a completely different cultural experience…
Oh yes! There is Wal-Mart in China! And just like in the United States, there the prices are low, always.
Ok, so the slogan is a little off but the general idea is pretty much the same. One thing that was completely different was the array of items you could purchase at the check-out counter. While Wal-Marts – and indeed most similar stores in the US – place an exorbitant amount of chocolates and candies and gum next to the register, Wal-Marts in China put these at your fingertips while checking out:
Condoms. I think this has something to do with that One Child Policy. Super Space Pleasure anyone? How about Super Thin & Moist Pleasure? What does that even mean? Is the condom itself thin or is it the you-know-what inside? Anyway…
Moving on to a real cultural experience: a show featuring traditional Chinese singing and dancing and instruments and such! The show itself was a bit boring compared to the Kung Fu Show we went to in Beijing, but it was interesting nonetheless. Here is a very brief snippet:
The best part of the show was the end, because at the end, this happened:
Two words: DUMPLING BANQUET!!! Yesssssss!!!! After denying myself food in the hours leading up to the previous day’s train ride, and the delicious but small and mostly veggie, not-so-filling lunch we had, I was ravenous for a big meal. And this totally hit the spot. Our Lazy Susan was filled with all sorts of veggie dumplings – from the fairly standard cabbage dumplings to the strange and exotic tomato sauce and bamboo shoot dumplings. And I got my share of protein with some chicken dumplings and some duck dumplings too!
Yummy! There were a few dumplings left on the table, but as usual, I was the last one eating and did my best to ensure that the leftovers were kept to a minimum. Now, the big question was…