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A Weekend sortie to Xi'An - home of the Terracotta Warriors

Updated on March 31, 2009

Getting there

Ever since I heard about the discovery of the terracotta army, I've had a desire to see it with my own eyes.  Such megalomania, such a belief in one's own immortality, the mind boggles at what China's very first emperor, Emperor Qin created in his lifetime.  From the minute he ascended to the position, he collected together 780 000 people to build his mausoleum and the terracotta army.  Considering that this was just over 2000 years ago is amazing and unbelievable.  The Chinese definitely had technology at their disposable, that was far advanced to anything anywhere else in the world at that time.

Xi'An was definitely top of my list of places to see in China.  But, after three years and due to leave in three months, I'm running out of time.  Hence, my decision to go for a quick flying in and flying out sortie.  Fly to Xi'An Friday night and return Saturday night.  You really only need a day.

The cheap flights I managed to organise at a cheaper price than the overnight train, caused a flutter of nervousness when we found out it wasn't a recognisable airline.  GS was its code, so we immediately nicknamed it Gunshot Airlines.  When we boarded the plane with the cute cartoon dragon on its tail, (I mean, what reputable airline would have a cute cartoon dragon?) and saw the flight attendants wearing tracksuits and running shoes, our fears were not allayed.  However, Grand China Express proved to be very good, in fact, we arrived at our destination safely and unscathed.  We even survived all the old age pensioners all wearing the red peak caps from their tour group.  It just proves that a sophisticated logo and beautifully dressed flight attendants does not make you the best.

If you ever make it to Xi'An, I recommend the Prince International Hotel which is centrally situated, is four stars and only cost $35 a night!

And then, you have to dress up as a warrior, or at least look like you're dressed like a warrior!
And then, you have to dress up as a warrior, or at least look like you're dressed like a warrior!
There's a factory that makes replicas of the warriors, using the same special clay, firing it the same special way, and charging ultra-special over-the top, exploiting the tourists prices.  I bought my terracotta warriors in Nanjing for RMB900 where
There's a factory that makes replicas of the warriors, using the same special clay, firing it the same special way, and charging ultra-special over-the top, exploiting the tourists prices. I bought my terracotta warriors in Nanjing for RMB900 where
Craftsperson (see, I'm non-sexual discriminatory and politically correct) carving the special clay.
Craftsperson (see, I'm non-sexual discriminatory and politically correct) carving the special clay.
Hand-crafted dragon, available for a price.  The only thing cheap is the cheep cheep of the birds outside.
Hand-crafted dragon, available for a price. The only thing cheap is the cheep cheep of the birds outside.
The lacquer furniture is cool but not really my cup of tea.
The lacquer furniture is cool but not really my cup of tea.
I quite liked the name of this teahouse at the warrior site.
I quite liked the name of this teahouse at the warrior site.
These look like toy soldiers, but each one is life-size.  All 780 000 workers and childless concubines of Emperor Qin were buried alive in a huge vault to protect the secrets of the tomb.
These look like toy soldiers, but each one is life-size. All 780 000 workers and childless concubines of Emperor Qin were buried alive in a huge vault to protect the secrets of the tomb.
Every warrior has a different face.  The bodies were cast in molds and each head was handcrafted separately.
Every warrior has a different face. The bodies were cast in molds and each head was handcrafted separately.
There are 3 pits that have been unearthed so far.  The actual tomb of Emperor Qin, which is quite a distance away from the warrior pits, has never been opened.  Apparently, it was well booby-trapped and the locals are too scared to open it.
There are 3 pits that have been unearthed so far. The actual tomb of Emperor Qin, which is quite a distance away from the warrior pits, has never been opened. Apparently, it was well booby-trapped and the locals are too scared to open it.
And if you get lost, follow these signs!  The Chinese farmer who discovered the buried warriors lost his farm to the government.  Luckily, he was compensated by being given a job at the site, smiling at crowds and signing terracotta warrior coffee ta
And if you get lost, follow these signs! The Chinese farmer who discovered the buried warriors lost his farm to the government. Luckily, he was compensated by being given a job at the site, smiling at crowds and signing terracotta warrior coffee ta
Handsome chef showing us how he hand-makes noodles.  There are many local restaurants serving superb local cuisine.
Handsome chef showing us how he hand-makes noodles. There are many local restaurants serving superb local cuisine.
Bangpo Neolithic 6000 year old site.  This was a matriarchal society where a woman had many husbands, each with a different job!  Imagine, one man to cook, one to hunt, one to clean and all to perform sexual duties.
Bangpo Neolithic 6000 year old site. This was a matriarchal society where a woman had many husbands, each with a different job! Imagine, one man to cook, one to hunt, one to clean and all to perform sexual duties.
Xi'An is the start of the Silk Road.  This is ONE cocoon been stretched to make a duvet inner.
Xi'An is the start of the Silk Road. This is ONE cocoon been stretched to make a duvet inner.
The ancient drum and bell towers in central Xi'An signalled the time of day to the people.
The ancient drum and bell towers in central Xi'An signalled the time of day to the people.
The Muslim Market shopping and eating street.
The Muslim Market shopping and eating street.
Muslim man cooking up a storm.
Muslim man cooking up a storm.
When in Xi'An, you just have to be a terracotta warrior!
When in Xi'An, you just have to be a terracotta warrior!

Read my book about Fenella's hilarious adventures

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    • cindyvine profile image
      Author

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      Thanks London girl and Silver Freak, I do enjoy putting these travel hubs together. Next week I have a whole week of school holidays, so will put together a few more travel hubs of places I've visited. The end of April, I'm going down to spend a weekend with the Shaolin monks, where Kung Fu originated, so that should be cool. Watch out for that hub in a month's time!

    • Silver Freak profile image

      Silver Freak 8 years ago from The state of confusion

      what a fantastic trip, and a great journal for you to remember everything by.

      Good hubbing!

    • LondonGirl profile image

      LondonGirl 8 years ago from London

      amazing hub, and the photos are brilliant!

    • Hawkesdream profile image

      Hawkesdream 8 years ago from Cornwall

      I can feel your passion,thanks. maybe a hub on' chrome origins'

    • cindyvine profile image
      Author

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      Hi Teresa, am not sure people would want to see the real China, it's quite frightening hahaha

      Hawkesdream, the warriors were so impressive, mindblowing in fact. What's interesting, is that (strange for China) they are using only original fragments to piece together a smashed warrior, no fake bits at all. The warriors you see standing in rows have all been pieced together. They have a warrior hospital there, where they work on putting them together and it can take up to a year to piece together a warrior. It is painstaking work. The emperor after Emperor Qin, ordered all the warriors to be smashed and the wooden beam rooms they were in were all set on fire as they used to have wooden chariots and wooden weapons with them. Another interesting discovery, is that many of the daggers and spear heads were chrome plated - a technology the Germans thought they'd invented in the 1930's, but was already being done by China 2000 years before!. It was awesome and definitely a once in a lifetime experience. I go in for those.

    • Hawkesdream profile image

      Hawkesdream 8 years ago from Cornwall

      Hope you do a hub when you return giving your emotions upon actually seeing the army

    • Teresa McGurk profile image

      Sheila 8 years ago from The Other Bangor

      WAY cool -- I've always wanted to see all those terracotta figures. Thanks for the great photos (and captions). The system where the woman had many husbands sounds reasonable -- I've always wanted a few men around, one to fix things and open jars, etc, one to work at a great job, and one to take care of me. Why the heck not? I'm self-centered and immature enough!

      Thanks for showing us some "real" China, too. I look forward to reading more of your adventures.

    • cindyvine profile image
      Author

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      I have to say that there has to be a reason why there were so few women and so many men at that time. Cause there would have to have been a male surplus for this to have worked.

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 8 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      well good luck to her come bedtime! LOL kidding aside, i would like to say that i was initially taken to the idea that it sure sounds like some form of social/gender equality but it's not, the same way that having concubines is not. obviously, from an outsider's point of view it is easy to say that women rule then but we don't know the first thing about social roles and status during those times. i think i did not come up with an answer! :D

    • cindyvine profile image
      Author

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      But, what do you think about that system where one woman has many husbands?

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 8 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Ah we meet again, Ms Vine!

      I say the Emperor was megalomanic AND paranoid! Yeah feng shui that! Anyway, I enjoyed the captions as I did the pictures. Your boots are sure made for walkin'! Thanks for sharing :D