Gallery: Lots of stone terracotta warriors…could only be Xi’an!

Now there are two travellers to add to the 8,000 warriors...

Now there are two travellers to add to the 8,000 warriors…03-Feb-2010 08:58, Panasonic DMC-TZ6, 3.3, 4.1mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 400

Moving North-Easterly in China, we arrived in beautiful Xi’an. Surrounded by Ancient City Walls but with other travellers telling us there wasn’t a lot to do, would we like Xi’an? Would we see the Terracotta Army and what would we find to eat in the Muslim Quarter….?

Note: 1 GBP = ~11 Chinese RMB or 1.6 US Dollar at time of writing.
What needs to happen when somebody forgets to book the removal men...What needs to happen when somebody forgets to book the removal men…

What needs to happen when somebody forgets to book the removal men…02-Feb-2010 12:08, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 4.0, 28.0mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 1600

After our night train, we arrived in Xi’an around midday. Steve went to get our tickets for leaving Xi’an in a few days’ time (as Chinese New Year is approaching, tickets are getting harder to get at short notice). He returned with a Canadian called Trevor who was going to the same hostel as us. Together we left the train station through one of the entrances in the magnificent city walls. Boy they are impressive! The entrances had ornate towers on – they look beautiful. We already like Xi’an :) . On a cramped bus, with our giant backpackers, we were happy when we could see the South Gate of the city walls approaching as this signalled our bus stop. All outside were decorations for Chinese New Year and there were giant lanterns on top of the wall. It looked spectacular! We checked into Shuyuan hostel and a beautiful room which was really warm, a stark contrast to the freezing Xi’an air! This hostel has cheap beer and warm communal areas – a good pick. That evening we ended up watching some live music in a bar under the hostel which was entertaining in a good way until audience members went up to sing for a free drink, then it was entertaining in a really bad way.

Lynette next to a huge tripod, again made around 3,500 years ago!Lynette next to a huge tripod, again made around 3,500 years ago!

Lynette next to a huge tripod, again made around 3,500 years ago!02-Feb-2010 08:55, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 3.5, 28.0mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 1600

The first full day in Xi’an we opted to visit the Shaanxi Museum. What a museum! It’s fantastic – we didn’t have enough time for all of the exhibits though due to the lengthy ticket procedure which took us over an hour to complete outside! Entry is free but you still have to queue for a ticket and wait while they check your ID – a little convoluted but definitely worth the wait once you got in. After Shaanxi, we walked to The Big Goose Pagoda. There is a huge set of steps leading up to it with fountains on every step. These will host a light and water show later on. At the foot of the stairs was also the largest stone book in China (?) which we, erm, looked at and then got a nice desert of fruit with toffee on, dipped in sunflower seeds. Headed to the Bell Tower after seeing the Drum Tower – we didn’t pay to enter for a show in either as we’ve been told performances are cheaper in Beijing and we were running short on time. The buildings are huge although a little out of sync with the modern shop surroundings, I kind of like that though.

When a normal wok won't do, try getting a jet powered one.When a normal wok won’t do, try getting a jet powered one.

When a normal wok won't do, try getting a jet powered one.02-Feb-2010 11:31, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 4.0, 45.0mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 800

From there we walked to the Muslim Quarter for snacks. We were rushing as we intended to go back to The Big Goose Pagoda for the light and water show but as it was, we were freezing and the Muslim Quarter proved far too interesting to leave. Stalls upon stalls of random fruit, kebabs, meat etc. We tried several spicy kebabs, all about 10p each. Very tasty and spicy food which was welcome after some of the bland tastes we’ve been experiencing. Tried a pomegranate and pear juice and goodness knows what else was in it as it didn’t taste like either and was pretty repulsive! I insisted we buy some dried fruit to try as I’ve always wanted to like dried fruit but it’s rank – another Steve ‘I told you so’ moment. It was fun wandering the streets and watching the different cooking methods which were mainly outdated and not entirely health and safety orientated!

Terracotta Army

These two giant marionettes were part of a performance during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and are the biggest in the world and completely handmade. Also sponsored by Johnson & Johnson...These two giant marionettes were part of a performance during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and are the biggest in the world and completely handmade. Also sponsored by Johnson & Johnson…

These two giant marionettes were part of a performance during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and are the biggest in the world and completely handmade. Also sponsored by Johnson & Johnson…03-Feb-2010 07:02, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 4.0, 28.0mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 200

The bus to the Terracotta Army left from the train station in Xi’an and 1h later we were outside the first emperor, Qin Shi Huang’s, artefacts. For once in our lives, we bought a tour guide, not for forever, I think that’s illegal – just for a couple of hours. We decided we would pull out all the stops for this trip as others had told us it wasn’t as good as you ever anticipated it to be. We were Baltic as well so we also paid for a buggy to the museum entrance (lazy, lazy). Having the guide was useful for a couple of pieces of information she gave us but by no means essential, and I actually found her a bit annoying as when you just wanted to gape at the sights, she insisted on talking and talking and talking…

Emporer Quin's Horses and Chariots, buried with him and painstakingly reconstructed.Emporer Quin’s Horses and Chariots, buried with him and painstakingly reconstructed.

Emporer Quin's Horses and Chariots, buried with him and painstakingly reconstructed.03-Feb-2010 07:06, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 4.0, 28.0mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 1600

First stop in the selection of huge buildings was a small museum showing some of the finds from Shi Huang’s mausoleum 2km away. In particular, two sets of four horses pulling a chariot each, all made out of bronze. They were magnificent with an incredible amount of detail such as the workings of a crossbow and an arrow box containing 60 arrows, two working umbrellas, bits for the horses’ mouths. Absolutely beautiful. I could have gazed at it for hours (apart from gobby guide in my ear).

Pit 3 in the Terracotta Army museum; 68 figures, 34 bronze weapons and one chariot were unearthed.Pit 3 in the Terracotta Army museum; 68 figures, 34 bronze weapons and one chariot were unearthed.

Pit 3 in the Terracotta Army museum; 68 figures, 34 bronze weapons and one chariot were unearthed.03-Feb-2010 07:40, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 4.0, 28.0mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 1600

Next, we asked that we see the pits in 3, 2, 1 order leaving the best til last. Pit #3 made us gasp as it was the first we had seen, although there was not a lot present in it. It was our first glimpse of some of the soldiers though so we drank in every second. You could see partially buried soldiers, not fully excavated. Headless soldiers whose heads had not yet been found. Fully replenished statues. On the walls we could see pictures of when the soldiers were first found, including the paint which still existed then. That would have been an awesome sight! Horses were present also which added another dimension to the reconstruction.

The Kneeling Archer, one of the best preserved examples, 160 of these were found and would have held crossbows.The Kneeling Archer, one of the best preserved examples, 160 of these were found and would have held crossbows.

The Kneeling Archer, one of the best preserved examples, 160 of these were found and would have held crossbows.03-Feb-2010 07:56, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 4.0, 38.0mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 1600

Pit #2 was much bigger and still undergoing extensive evacuation – they’ve only uncovered a third of all of the site’s ruins so far! A lot of pit #2 is covered with blankets but you can see arms and limbs, heads, torsos peering out from the earth. Most interestingly, you can see five fully reconstructed figures up close in glass cages. The detail is astonishing. Even the tread of the soles was present. The faces are intricate. I thought they were beautiful. The pit itself showed evidence of black burnt wood from when the Han dynasty tried to burn the area down.

Finally Pit 1, containing 6,000 Terracotta warriors ready to protect Emporer Qin in the afterlife.Finally Pit 1, containing 6,000 Terracotta warriors ready to protect Emporer Qin in the afterlife.

Finally Pit 1, containing 6,000 Terracotta warriors ready to protect Emporer Qin in the afterlife.03-Feb-2010 08:28, Panasonic DMC-TZ6, 3.3, 4.1mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 400

Pit #1 is the most well recognised because of the army formation. You can see hundreds of evacuated figures in army formation. The faces are all unique, generals can be told from their different hairstyles and you can still detect a little paint on some figures. Pit #1 is still undergoing a lot of excavation and so at the far end of the exhibition you can see partially reconstructed models or as I called it ‘Terracotta Hospital’ where the figures await discovery of their missing pieces. An astonishing sight. It was wonderful to see, we’re really privileged. As we left, we saw the man whose land the discovery was made on. He is a very rich man now and was signing books but we didn’t buy one LOL! We had been there for 3 hours, and absolutely loved the Terracotta Army – everyone who had warned us before that the Army wasn’t worth going to Xi’an for we feel were wrong, and was a definite highlight of our entire trip. Next stop, Pingyao..

Freezing our nuts off in Pingyao

With Chinese New Year approaching ever closer, the streets are dominated with red decoration.With Chinese New Year approaching ever closer, the streets are dominated with red decoration.

With Chinese New Year approaching ever closer, the streets are dominated with red decoration.05-Feb-2010 09:00, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 7.1, 60.0mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 100

Pingyao was once the financial hub of China, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site retaining its huge stone walls. It is also about -100 degrees at this time of year, and we thought it would be rude if we didn’t stop over for a couple of nights on the way to Beijing. Arriving in the pitch black of morning, our moto driver had great difficulty taking us to our booked hostel (three hostels later we arrived at our destination, Yamen Hostel). For the next twenty fours we alternated between catching up on blogs and taking the odd walk in an attempt to warm up…

The bride wears red, the groom wears fancy dress, and they all get exceptionally merry...The bride wears red, the groom wears fancy dress, and they all get exceptionally merry…

The bride wears red, the groom wears fancy dress, and they all get exceptionally merry…05-Feb-2010 10:13, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 4.0, 28.0mm, 0.04 sec, ISO 200

Pingyao itself was a beautiful, surreal place. Retaining the ghostly air of an old mining town, the strange fog played havoc with the natural light making it feel as though you’d landed in a town that exists in another dimension. The bright colours and flags everywhere ready to celebrate CNY were in total contrast to the imposing grey walls that dominated the town. From here more temples could be visited, including the famous Shaolin monks home, but for us a bit of warm tea and the odd beer were more than enough. For one night anyway… next our final China destination, Beijing!

Next »
Me looking like a goofball outside the excellent Shaanxi museum, Xi'an.

Me looking like a goofball outside the excellent Shaanxi museum, Xi'an.02-Feb-2010 08:43, Panasonic DMC-TZ6, 3.3, 4.1mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 320

Amazing workmanship from 7,000 years ago - Pottery Jar with Pointed Bottom (Neolithic 5-3000 BC), Lingtong District, Xi'an City

Amazing workmanship from 7,000 years ago – Pottery Jar with Pointed Bottom (Neolithic 5-3000 BC), Lingtong District, Xi'an City02-Feb-2010 08:49, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 3.5, 28.0mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 1600

Pottery Pot with Design of Beast Face (Neolithic 5-3000 BC) Lintong District, Xi'an City

Pottery Pot with Design of Beast Face (Neolithic 5-3000 BC) Lintong District, Xi'an City02-Feb-2010 08:51, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 4.0, 83.0mm, 0.01 sec, ISO 1600

Lynette next to a huge tripod, again made around 3,500 years ago!

Lynette next to a huge tripod, again made around 3,500 years ago!02-Feb-2010 08:55, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 3.5, 28.0mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 1600

Bronze Tripod with Ogre-Mask Motif (Shang Dynasty 13th-11th BC) Taoxia village, Huaxian County

Bronze Tripod with Ogre-Mask Motif (Shang Dynasty 13th-11th BC) Taoxia village, Huaxian County02-Feb-2010 08:58, Panasonic DMC-TZ6, 4.0, 10.3mm, 0.25 sec, ISO 400

Pit of Chariouts and Horses of Zhou Dynasty (Restoration)

Pit of Chariouts and Horses of Zhou Dynasty (Restoration)02-Feb-2010 09:05, Panasonic DMC-TZ6, 3.3, 4.1mm, 0.4 sec, ISO 400

Collection of Masks (Shang Dynasty 13th-11th BC), Sucun village, Chengdu County

Collection of Masks (Shang Dynasty 13th-11th BC), Sucun village, Chengdu County02-Feb-2010 09:06, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 4.0, 38.0mm, 0.02 sec, ISO 1600

Bronze Zuo Bells Set (Western Zhou Dynasty 9th BC), Quijia village, Fufeng county

Bronze Zuo Bells Set (Western Zhou Dynasty 9th BC), Quijia village, Fufeng county02-Feb-2010 09:06, Panasonic DMC-TZ6, 3.3, 4.1mm, 0.2 sec, ISO 400

Shell Coins (Zhou Dynasty 10th-9th BC), Rujiazhuang, Baoji city

Shell Coins (Zhou Dynasty 10th-9th BC), Rujiazhuang, Baoji city02-Feb-2010 09:10, Panasonic DMC-TZ6, 4.5, 27.8mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 400

A Tally was a special token used by the Emperor to transmit his order. He kept the right, officers the left. Only when fitted together was the written order valid.

A Tally was a special token used by the Emperor to transmit his order. He kept the right, officers the left. Only when fitted together was the written order valid.02-Feb-2010 09:24, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 4.5, 105.0mm, 0.013 sec, ISO 1600

Excavation of Bronze Chariots and Horses on the Western Side of Emperor Lin Shihuang Mausoleum

Excavation of Bronze Chariots and Horses on the Western Side of Emperor Lin Shihuang Mausoleum02-Feb-2010 09:28, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 4.0, 60.0mm, 0.125 sec, ISO 1600

Green-glazed model of toilet with Pigsty (Han Dynasty, 25-220AD), Diaoqiao town, Tongguan County

Green-glazed model of toilet with Pigsty (Han Dynasty, 25-220AD), Diaoqiao town, Tongguan County02-Feb-2010 09:36, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 4.0, 50.0mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 1600

Animal-shaped Tomb Guardian (South Dynasties Period 420-589), Tomb, Changling, Ankang City

Animal-shaped Tomb Guardian (South Dynasties Period 420-589), Tomb, Changling, Ankang City02-Feb-2010 09:44, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 4.0, 50.0mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 1600

These super long kites are very popular, and stretch for hundreds of metres as they slowly unravel...

These super long kites are very popular, and stretch for hundreds of metres as they slowly unravel…02-Feb-2010 09:49, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 11.0, 28.0mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 800

Me next to the 'Valuable Book of Tang', in front of the Big Goose Pagoda, the largest bronze sculpture of a book in the world. Why not.

Me next to the 'Valuable Book of Tang', in front of the Big Goose Pagoda, the largest bronze sculpture of a book in the world. Why not.02-Feb-2010 10:13, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 13.0, 28.0mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 400

The Bell Tower in the middle of Xi'an, performances are noisy.

The Bell Tower in the middle of Xi'an, performances are noisy.02-Feb-2010 11:00, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 13.0, 35.0mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 400

Our first street snack in Bei-yuan-men, Muslim Culture Street - YUMMY!!

Our first street snack in Bei-yuan-men, Muslim Culture Street – YUMMY!!02-Feb-2010 11:26, Panasonic DMC-TZ6, 3.3, 4.1mm, 0.077 sec, ISO 400

When a normal wok won't do, try getting a jet powered one.

When a normal wok won't do, try getting a jet powered one.02-Feb-2010 11:31, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 4.0, 45.0mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 800

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