Terracotta Army

Xi'an Travel Blog

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Locust anyone?
Another sleeper train, over to Xi'an, home of the Terracotta Army.

Once again we ran into difficulties with finding our hostel. We were expecting a pick up from the station, and trusting this, did not have the number or address of the hostel on us. Unfortunatly we came out of a different exit to the one our lift was waiting at, and didn't have a clue what to do! Luckily we stumbled upon another backpacker who pointed us in the right direction.

Xi'an is surrounded by imposing city walls, it was once the most prominent city in China, home to emperors. The hostel was in a pretty courtyard that used to be part of Xi'an's communist headquarters. The rooms are located in the original buildings, with the cafe in the centre, which was a lovely place to sit and relax.
The first evening we walked down to the Muslim quarter, the most lively area in the small city. We knew as soon as we hit it, there were tiny narrow streets absolutely crammed with people, stalls, mopeds, bikes. It was mayhem, the kind of chaos we have come to expect!

Of course there were the obligatory wierd food items. We walked past stalls with dubious looking kebab sticks and duck heads, then stopped for a beer at a street side restaurant. It was a perfect people watching spot, although for the first 15 mins the menu held our attention. How would you like some 'sheep spinal cord', washed down with a glass of 'cruel juice'? No, we didn't think much of it either. The strangest thing was that the waitresses were dressed impeccably and the food was very expensive.
These things must be delicacies, but we weren't prepared to try! We also walked over to a very noisy stall covered in tiny wicker style cages. We discovered that each box contained a locust like animal which the stall holders were lovingly feeding, and selling as pets....

The next morning we set off early (ish) for the Terracotta Warriors, the main purpose of our Xi'an stop off. Despite valient attempts by our hostel to sell us their tour, we had heard that you could get a green bus from the station car park. Well the car park was crammed full of buses, and nothing was in English but we did the usual trick of asking a Westerner in a queue, and joining the end of it! The bus took about an hour but was very cheap and dropped us right outside. After walking up to the main gates we went into the movie theatre to get a bit of background information before seeing the warriors.

The history of them is quite incredible. In approx 200BC, the then emperor Qin Shi Huang decided that he needed some protection in the afterlife, and arranged for a huge army to be cast and buried around him to accompany his. This army took 40 years to make, and each soldier is slightly different. After he died, the giant tomb was attacked during a peasant uprising, then ignored, and buried under 2000 years worth of earth. In 1974, villagers digging a well discovered this huge underground vault complete with thousands of warriors in various states of disrepair, but largely intact.  There are 3 pits, the two smaller ones contain partly excavated warriors, some still half buried, others in pieces. Work is still going on to excavate the warriors, and will be for decades to come. Pit 1 is the main attraction, hundreds of warriors in reginmented lines to protect the emperor. It is the sight you see on the travel shows and it was AMAZING. 
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Locust anyone?
Locust anyone?
photo by: Deats