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Weekend trip to Xi'an to hunt out the Terracotta Army

Xi'an Travel Blog

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Playing with the hostel pups

Inga and I arrived in Xi’an around 8pm and our made our way to our hostel.  Luckily we’d been recommended the Shuyuan by Simon and BBC , who’d stayed there during Golden Week, so we knew it would be clean!  It was also a convenient location just inside the South gate of the city wall and pretty cheap too.

After a great breakfast at the hostel and a little cuddle with the hostel dog’s cute pups, Inga and I made our own way to find the Terracotta Warriors.  It took two buses to get there but the journey was a breeze, plus it gave us a bit of an orientation of Xi’an.

I really LOVE travelling China out of season!  The site of the Warriors was really empty, plus we got a cheaper entrance fee of ¥65 instead of ¥90.

Pit 1 at the site of the Terracotta Army

It didn’t take too long to look around as there are only 3 pits of statues and pit 2 was actually closed for restoration work.

Pit 1 is by far the largest and the most impressive.  The scale of it is really incredible and it’s amazing to see the level of detail on each warrior – they’re all different which I didn’t realise before my visit.  The uncovering work has been going on for decades and it would seem will continue for many more years to come – certainly a very big job.

There was a fairly small museum to look around too, which is where all the warrior weapons were on display, plus some of the key pieces from pit 2.  One interesting fact I learnt was that copper-plating technology, which was thought to have been invented by the Germans in 1939, was actually used to make the Terracotta Warrior weapons some 2,200 years before!  How amazing is that?!!  This is definitely a point the Chinese must be very proud of.

Inga and I at the top of the pit

After our leisurely look around, we made our way to the exit which leads directly to souvenir alley....

We were mobbed by sellers desperate for custom and I couldn’t resist picking up my very own Terracotta statue.  I was just hoping it would make it back to the UK in one piece!

After lunch, we went for a walk around the city.  This was something that made Inga and I really like the place – you could actually walk around and soak up the atmosphere – not something you can do in Beijing.

The streets were bustling with life and there were Christmas decorations everywhere so it felt really festive.

We made our way to the Muslim Quarter.

Pit 1 of Terracotta Warriors
.. By this time it was dark and the area was looking really pretty as it was all lit up.  We stumbled across a lovely market at the entrance.  It was mainly selling dried fruits, nuts and souvenirs, but it also felt festive and reminded Inga of the German Christmas markets so we both enjoyed having a browse.

We then strolled through the little streets, passing various food stalls with a mix of good and bad aromas and a load more souvenir shops.  As with the Terracotta Army, there were no crowds, so it was really pleasant.  The area had a great atmosphere and the people seemed much more friendly and tolerant of Western tourists than in Beijing.

We walked around for about 4 hours in total, so by the time we made it back to our hostel we were pretty tired.  We had a quick beer in the hostel bar and a bite to eat before heading to bed.

A close-up of the statues

The next day was the day we cycled the entire way round Xi’an’s city wall – all 14kms of it!  But before we could set off on our bikes, we headed back to the Muslim Quarter to find hats and gloves which were much needed to protect us from the cold weather.  I also used the opportunity to pick up a couple of other souvenirs I’d spotted the previous day.

The city wall was deserted, which was great, but sadly the view was appalling due to the excessive smog.  We set off on our mammoth cycle, which was the only exercise either of us had had since coming to China, so needless to say it wasn’t the easiest of bike rides.  We were both just grateful it was a flat terrain!

It took us 1.5 hours to make it all the way round, which I was quite impressed with, given we’d made various stops to take pictures and catch our breath.

Recently excavated statues
..plus we’d even had to make a minor detour at one point as I’d managed to drop my camera without realising whilst speeding down a ramp.

It was clear once we’d returned the bikes that we would both be suffering from a bit of saddle soreness as we hobbled off John Wayne stylie!  Fortunately it only lasted a couple of days!!

Sadly it was then time to head to the airport and back to Beijing...

For the first time, we managed to get a cab driver who actually followed Mr Guo’s directions to Miyun exactly and the meter only came to ¥150, which is incredible given we’d paid anywhere from ¥220 to ¥300 in the past – an enormous difference in Chinese cab fare terms.

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Playing with the hostel pups
Playing with the hostel pups
Pit 1 at the site of the Terracott…
Pit 1 at the site of the Terracot…
Inga and I at the top of the pit
Inga and I at the top of the pit
Pit 1 of Terracotta Warriors
Pit 1 of Terracotta Warriors
A close-up of the statues
A close-up of the statues
Recently excavated statues
Recently excavated statues
A warrior and his horses
A warrior and his horses
Ruins in pit 3
Ruins in pit 3
4 horses in pit 3
4 horses in pit 3
The Bell Tower after sun-set
The Bell Tower after sun-set
The Drum Tower in the city centre
The Drum Tower in the city centre
The market in the Muslim Quarter
The market in the Muslim Quarter
The main street in the Muslim Quar…
The main street in the Muslim Qua…
The market
The market
A food stall in the Muslim Quarter
A food stall in the Muslim Quarter
Posing with Santa
Posing with Santa
The Christmas tree outside my spir…
The Christmas tree outside my spi…
View from the city wall
View from the city wall
View across the roof tops from the…
View across the roof tops from th…
Me on mi bike
Me on mi bike
The misty view
The misty view
Inga and I self-portrait
Inga and I self-portrait
Another misty wall shot
Another misty wall shot
The city wall
The city wall
Chasing some guards at the city wa…
Chasing some guards at the city w…
Xi'an
photo by: Deats