Thursday, May 17, 2007

Silk Road Trip Day 5 - Xian and the Terra Cotta Warriors

For the past few nights, I've been emailing these entries from Yahoo, rather than going in through the Blogger Dashboard.  While some of the Chinese characters look the same, there are none of the other helpful Japanese scripts to help.  So, please ignore the advertising that gets attached to the bottom of the entries.
That short disclaimer out of the way, let's continue.
I'm back in the same Internet cafe as we were in last night.  After the blogging duties for the day were complete, Steve and I logged onto one of those online shooter games, Counter Strike, I think.  We kept hitting buttons until we got into a game with three other guys, and through trial and error, kept getting ourselves killed for a whole hour.  It was a good time, though, and we actually did win one of the 30 or so three minute rounds that we played.  It was only in the last few minutes that we realized that we could have been using heavy weaponry rather than the dinky little 9mm pistols that we'd been fighting with.  Up until that, we'd have to gang up on one of the guys, kill him, and steal his gun; then, turn it on his friends.  This worked, but it was ugly.  We did taht for about an hour before heading back to the hotel.
We still got up early this morning so we could take a wander through the Muslim Quarter of Xian.  Having been in my share of other Muslim Quarters, it was really interesting to see the contrasts of a Muslim society outside of Arabia or North Africa.  There's a gorgeous mosque, the largest in China, which has a really different feel to it.  Much more ornate and Oriental looking, with Terra cotta roof, and even depictions of living creatures (though mythical - i.e., dragons) around the garden-like courtyard. 
We also tooled around past some of the shops as they were getting ready for the day.  There were plenty of murder scene butcher shops with various and sundry organs for sale.  We saw livers and lungs and stomachs, and watched a guy for a while as he hacked at cow spines and pelvises with an axe.  Scary.  There were a lot of songbirds for sale, and in front of one store, three guys were feeding baby birds with chopsticks and dog-food.  Deb tried to take a picture, but got yelled at.  Steve and I took advantage of the distraction and snapped away. 
Finally, we all split up.  Steve went for a bike ride, Deb for Starbucks, and I did a little shopping before heading for the city walls.  Turns out that it cost 40 yuan to go up, so I chose to head back to the room and get ready to check out. 
After we all assembled in the lobby at about noon, we headed for lunch at a local noodle shop.  This particular place was somewhat traditional, in that they served beer in bowls.  Strange, but a nice way to quench the thirst.  Just be careful when you say, "Ganbei!" or someone's going to get wet.  KY also got a small bottle of the local wine, which tasted more like sake flavored cough syrup.  It was apparently about 57 proof, and burned going down.  We didn't drink too much, though, because after lunch we were driving out of town to see the Terra Cotta Warriors.
The Emperor Qin, in about 200BC, decided to create a huge mausoleum complex honoring himself, and made pretty much a complete replica of his army, with upwards of 6000 soldiers, horses, and chariots.  They were all cast with the actual faces of his soldiers (well, not their actual faces, because what good are real soldiers if you peel off their faces to put on fake ones...but I digress), so each soldier is a unique creation.  2000 years later, a farmer digging a well discovered them.  He was sitting in the entrance hall with a big sign that says "No Photo," looking very bored.
We saw a short movie in surround-a-vision, and spent a couple of hours walking around the different pits where the soldiers were found.  Pit one had over 1000 soldiers in ranks, drawn up in the accurate order of battle of the day.  Pit 2 was mostly horsemen, chariots, and archers, and mostly still un-reclaimed.  Pit 3 was the command post.  All in all, it definitely lives up to its billing as the 8th wonder of the world.
Now, gotta run as I'm catching a train for Lanzhou tonight.  More later, when I can.

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