Tuesday, April 21, 2015

CHINA Day 1: Xi'an

Matt and I feel like our time in Laos could be drawing to a close this year some time, so we really wanted to make sure we went to China before we left this area of the world. Before we ever came, I told Matt I really wanted to see the Great Wall while we were there. So, we started planning. The Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum was also very high on our list of things to see. We decided to fly from Laos to Xi'an first, see the Terracotta Warriors, and then spend the rest of our time in Beijing.

The visas to get into China are about 3 times more expensive for citizens of the United States, which is super annoying, but you gotta do what ya gotta do. We did find out that a single entry visa was the same as a multi-entry ten year visa, so we got that one just in case. Who knows? When I went to get the visas for the family, I went in with all the paperwork and found out I couldn't pay with a credit card and actually couldn't pay at the office at all. I had to go downtown to the ICBC bank and pay in cash (in Lao kip of course) and get a receipt to go back to the consulate when I picked up the visas. Oi. When I went back to pick them up I was in line behind a mother, father, and small boy. It is common in China for pants to be cut through the crotch area and for the child to not wear diapers at all... such was the case for this little boy. He was sitting on his father's shoulder and I thought, "That's risky." Well, sure enough, the little boy peed and it went down the dad's arm and was dribbling off his elbow. Did he run the bathroom? No. Did anyone come out to clean it up? No. "Okay, I thought. Welcome to China, Becky." So that was actually my first Chinese experience!

Okay, on to the actual trip. We hired a tour guide who was recommended by our friends to take us around Xi'an for one day. The biggest highlight, of course was the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum. She gave us some history about it on our 1.5-hour drive up there from our hotel. Apparently, a farmer was digging a well on his property in 1974 and stumbled upon the mausoleum of an emperor. Whoa. There are 8,000 soldiers in all, split among 3 pits. The first pit is the largest and consists of mostly infantry soldiers and a few captains. 

The place was gigantic. I was blown away.

There should be a chariot behind those horses, but all of the chariots were made of wood and they were either crushed or rotted.
The infantrymen have a single hair knot on the right side of their heads, and that's how you can tell. The ones with little hats on are the captains. Also, you can see that the soldiers have their hands in such a way to hold a weapon. The weapons were made of bronze and it is presumed that they were stolen by local farmers. They should be holding spears, swords, crossbows and axes.

Do you see all that rubble in the back? That's what ALL of it looked like, pretty much, when they started. All of the soldiers were smashed by the roof that was above them, and also by a mob of uprisers who stormed in when the emperor died and his son took over. I guess he was not a very good guy and not very smart, so the people revolted.
There are three rows in the front to serve as the vanguard and then a single row on each side and at the back to serve as flanks. Everyone else is facing forward.
Here, again, you can see where the chariot should have been.
Do you see that little hole in the rubble? That was a local farmer's tomb. Apparently people were buried here right on top of this huge pit of soldiers without anyone ever knowing it was here!
This is Diana, our tour guide. She was SO GOOD with Scott, especially. He loves to ask questions and instead of just brushing him off, she talked straight to him and asked him questions right back. It was fantastic. He was very engaged and I have high hopes he will remember this visit forever.
It's hard to capture the vastness of this building. I think Diana said it was the size of two football fields. 63 meters north to south and 230 meters east to west. (70 x 250 yards).
Each terracotta warrior was assembled much like this from hundreds of pieces each.
It's an ongoing archeological site. Apparently there are a hundred or more archeologists working there at night after the museum closes.
Here are several that have been put together but have not been placed yet.
Here's the site of the well.
We took our picture in front of the entrance for pit 2. Pit 1 was too busy.
Pit 2 had lots of different kinds of warriors including archers,
and high-ranking officers like generals. You can tell he is a general because he has a double knot on his head that looks kind of like a butterfly.
This is a kneeling archer.
Most of Pit 2 looks pretty empty, but that's because they haven't dug up most of it. They are keeping them covered for now. When the soldiers in Pit 1 were discovered they were actually completely painted to look like real people. Unfortunately, the paint oxidized in just 3 days. So, they are hoping to have the technology to preserve the paint on the warriors in Pit 2, so they are just going to wait to do any more digging. They used x-rays to determine the location of the soldiers that were still under ground.

They had a display set up so you could take pictures with replicas of the warriors and horses. Can we say "Christmas card?"

This is Scott in front of Pit 3, which was the smallest and contained less than 100 people, mostly high-ranking officials.
They think this was a meeting room where decisions were made, because they soldiers were placed facing each other.
This is a sacrifice room, used for sacrificing animals. Unfortunately it was all smashed.
It was beautiful weather for us!
We had lunch at the museum restaurant.
They had a display with some of the warriors painted as people presume they might have been.
The last display is of 2 chariots. The first chariot would have been first as a protection to chariot 2, which would be carrying the emperor.

The next stop was the Xi'an City Wall. It was built to protect the city. The boys are standing where guards used to shoot arrows from these notches in the wall.
This is a really tall wall...
 How pretty is this landscaping?

It's 8.5 miles long.
This is where the water drains off the wall. Scott was fascinated.

Then we went to Muslim Street. Diana said it was a fun place to try street food and buy souvenirs.

Poor Marie got sick with a runny nose and cough before we left, so she was a pretty sorry sight.
One of the souvenirs we bought on Muslim Street! Matt couldn't wait to put them on the boys and take some pictures.

And so began our trip to China. The boys had a great time and when they realized that Diana wasn't coming with us to Beijing they were so sad. They both individually said, "I love her!"


Hannah Neville McMillan said...

looks amazing!!!

Mindy said...

Awesome!! Thanks for sharing - how fun to be able to see these amazing things in real life. And I love how you are sharing details - I will show my kids - kind of a virtual field trip!