Today was fantastic! I didn’t think that it would top yesterday‘s fantastic events, but it did 🙂
Today, we went to the Terra Cotta Museum in Xi’an. Wow, it was so amazing. Our tour guide, Rose, was able to tell us a lot about the historical treasures. The first time I encountered terra cotta warriors (Italian for ‘baked clay’) was back in elementary school — actually, I don’t remember if it was elementary school or early high school. Either way, there happened to be some terra cotta warriors on show at Agincourt Mall. My parents and I went to see it. They were just on display in the halls of the mall. I remember we took pictures of it (back then, we were still using the cameras with film that had to be developed).
I found it really neat and we spent ample time in the mall just looking up at these statues. My dad knew a lot of Chinese history and told me a lot as we looked at everything in detail. I remember telling him that I noticed that all the arms on the terra cotta warriors were significantly shorter than the ones we currently have. When I put my arms down, my hands hang freely below my waist. For the terra cotta warriors, their arms stop at their upper waist. It was weird. Anyway, that was my first exposure to these amazing pieces of history.
Today, as I walked into Pit #1 where the army of terra cottas were, I was just in awe. Here were the real deals standing right in front of me! It was so amazing. I was fascinated. I even video recorded what Rose told us about the history. I got the chance to look at every warrior in person. They really do look different, as in every statue has a different face and expression. I took more than enough pictures and zoomed in close to capture everything in detail. I just couldn’t get enough 🙂 Then, we visited Pits 2 and 3 as well as some other displays that they had. It’s incredible to think that over 2000 years ago, 470 000 people were under the power of the Emperor and built all of these figures (and same thing with the Great Wall too!). And it’s not like all of these were made haphazardly; all of these contain so much detail. I was looking at the replica of the kneeling warrior, and when you look at the sole of his foot, you can even see the little circled details. So painstakingly detailed. And of course, all the faces actually do look like real people with various expressions.
I really appreciated how Rose gave us ample time to look at all the different buildings. There’s just so much history there that it takes a good chunk of time to absorb and respect it all. Also, a number of participants bought a souvenir book and had it signed by the actual farmer who discovered the warriors back in 1974. I was pretty surprised to learn that the discovery of this site was so recent! The farmer is 82 years old today. His life is forever changed by discovering this. Truly remarkable.
After a delicious lunch of knife-sliced noodles and hand-rolled noodles (of which one of our participants ate 8 bowls — it really was that good. I ate 3 :)), we went to the Xi’an Museum. Even though most people will go through the exhibits in less than an hour (and we were given 30 mins), I thought it was pretty cool. Mandy and I made up our own interpretations of the artifacts and artwork that were there. It was hilarious lol and I wouldn’t have minded if we stayed there a bit longer. There was actually a lot of interesting things to look at if you spent the time there. Our ancestors might have spent their entire lifetime crafting a single sculpture. Mandy and I joked that we have nothing to offer our future generations except SD cards and USBs (and this blog of course 😉 ).
We then visited the Ancient City Wall. This was also my turn to do the landmark presentation. Yay! I did a brief introduction of the landmark on the tour bus with the working microphone. This was the first day that it had been raining since arriving in China. At first, it would have been an inconvenience but it actually worked out better this way since the weather was very cool and uncomfortable. What a difference it was compared to the last few days of hot, sticky, and sweaty weather we had been having. Eighteen of us rented bikes and biked on the city wall. What an experience that was! It’s probably the best way to see all 13.7km. It was nice to feel the cool breeze as we rode on the bumpy stone road. It was an interesting contrast to see high rises and city buildings beyond the city walls and seeing Ancient Chinese houses in the immediate vicinity. There was soft Chinese music playing from the speakerboxes which further enhanced the experience overall. Even though it was raining, it provided a much needed breeze and coolness. When we all gathered as a group after, we all agreed it was much preferred to ride on a rainy day rather than on a sunny humid day. Yay 🙂
We had a dumplings feast for dinner. It was unlimited rounds of dumplings. Each basket contained a different set of dumplings that were shaped into different animals such as goldfish and duck. One of them looked like a butt too >:)
We were given a choice to go back to the hotel after dinner (and then to go shopping) or to watch a show. Being the musical/live performance nut that I am, I opted for the live show. I felt kind of ripped off since it was only an hour and the performances were only dance choreography and songs and not plate-balancing acts/interesting feats that were mentioned. The trumpet one was interesting though: it was a young Chinese man playing an unique trumpet and ‘chirping’ every so often in a really loud and high-pitched voice. I thought he was faking it for sure since the loud background music covered up his trumpeting, but at the end of his performance, he did it with the music turned off and it sounded legit. Weirdest performance ever. The rest of the performances were good too, but I have to say I’ve seen other shows in China that were better and more impressive.
The high point of this is that instead of taking a cab to go back to the hotel, we were able to peruse the Xi’an subway system! They only have 2 subway lines, but everything was clean, new, and spacious. It’s almost exactly like the Hong Kong subway systems with the automatic door barriers along the platform too. The only crazy thing is that you need to put your accompanying bags throughout an x-ray machine before you enter the gate..just like the ones at the airport -____-. So unnecessary. They even asked about the water bottle that I had in my purse. So what, now every civilian who uses the Xi’an subway system needs to put all their liquids and creams into a 100ml bag too? Good thing they didn’t pat me down like they did intrusively at the Beijing customs airport. But all in all, it was a nice trip to take the public transit system and I’m really glad that we took the chance (even if for one stop for just 24RMB 🙂 )
Anddd that’s all! What an amazing day it was 🙂Want to see what happened throughout the trip?