Many when first moving the China, hit the touristy spots before settling into Chinese life several thousand kilometers away from “home”. Me? doing just about the opposite for some strange reason – I guess that’s the way I roll. We took a brief break
before the frenzy of the upcoming holiday and went to Xi’an, home of the Terra Cotta Warriors of the Qin Dynasty. There are 3 dig locations with Pit #1 being the first find. It also has the largest of the 3 (pits) and having the best preserved fully detailed of them all. I decided to go in reverse –
that’s how I roll, against the grain at times – going from Pit 3, the most recent find, where it was much more raw. While up on the viewing platforms, you can really get a good feeling for what it was like to first happen upon these wonders of art and history for the first time. Headless trunks, arms, legs and bodiless heads are scattered all throughout the dirt tombs in
seemingly orderly rows as originally dug with many not fully dug out as they remain melted into the soil around them. Many who have returned say it is a must visit. Having been there done that (didn’t get the t-shirt, but brought home a warrior replica), I must agree with the majority – if not for the mere awesomeness
of the find itself. To think that in ancient China several thousand years ago, they employed the technology of not only making the statues themselves, but that many survived their harsh natural soiled tombs. Truly a thought-provoking place.
Even though the Warriors are the star attraction in the city proper itself, a visit to the old City Wall is not to be missed. This is one of the only
remaining (near original) city walls left in China due to a number of cultural occurrences over the many years, dynasties, including the Mao Red Days. I was told that it’s around 13km around the perimeter and that you can actually walk it, but like most Chinese monuments, you can elect an easier way … by way of push bike. Even though I was looking forward to doing this, I was raining so hard that we decided to forego this activity and just stayed a
brief while here. I highly recommend hiring a push bike and have a couple wander around the elevated wall to see the city from a different perspective.
I love markets. Street markets that is. They’re full of life, local culture and even though many have area in these markets selling local and not so local trinkets, you can always find interesting and tasty food – why stay at the 4 or 5-star hotel restaurants? The sights, aromas and overall vibe of the Muslim Quarter was one of the highlights of the trip.
Grabbing a quick bite here, visiting the Great Mosque and walking the narrow lanes of the market, we head for the Bampo Museum. Another dig site not of warriors, but apparently of the ancient indigenous peoples way before the fancy and prominent dynasties of ancient China. By ancient, I mean almost caveman-like old. Mud and straw hut kind of communities. After touring the various pits, we head out to catch our flight back to Shanghai, but not before wandering into a small museum (the name escapes me) that housed
the top couple hundred most popular surnames in China. You’re first met by a large board with surname rankings. At first, I was randomly searching for mine, then I went to #1 and started my way down the list. It didn’t take me very long as mine was 6th on the list! Who knew?!? We paid our respects (and money of course, as a “donation” to what I’m not quite sure) as we kow-tow to our respective “firsts”. Whether they’re actually true or not as to the origins of my family name, it was still a great story to tell and to see a cast iron of the supposed first Liu was pretty cool I must admit.
Xi’an, China’s most authentic culturally rich city, a must visit for sure.