A "cheeky little trip to Xi'an" is how my British friend referred to our very quick weekend getaway to the city. I went with Lauren, Scott, and another really cool guy that works at our school. It was a whirlwind trip, but so worth it. Of course visiting the Terracotta Warriors interested me, but I wondered if that's all there was to do in Xi'an. Did people just go, glance at the warriors for a few minutes, take some pictures and leave? If so, did I really want to go out of my way for just that? Rachael told me that she felt the same way last year and had her doubts about it, but urged me to go because she was sold once she went. Since the round trip flight to Xi'an from Shanghai AND our accommodation was less than $200 USD, I figured I would do it. I mean, I think I spend more money than that sometimes on just a regular weekend out here in Shanghai.
We booked a flight out at around 8:30, but our flight got delayed by 2 hours. We made the best of it, chatted and joked around at the airport, I pigged out on White Rabbits (a local Shanghainese candy), and took some lovely selfies with my friend Lauren's selfie stick. We passed the time and it was even kind of fun! Because of the delay, we didn't get to Hang Tang Hostel until well after 1 AM. We had some issues getting the private room that we paid for and ended up having to wait for what felt like an hour to get it sorted out. We had to get up bright and early to be ready in time for our Terracotta Warrior tour, so needless to say, we were all a little groggy the next morning. Luckily, our tour guide, "Lady Jia Jia" didn't talk for too long so that we could rest on the bus. We opted for a 1/2 day no shopping tour, and I was just glad that there was such a thing! I was not there to shop at all.
Once we arrived, we visited Pit 2, Pit 3, and then Pit 1. Before looking into this trip to Xi'an, I didn't even know there were different pits! Jia Jia warned us to not be disappointed by Pit 2 or Pit 3 because she was saving the best pit for last. Pit 2 and Pit 3 did have many soldiers that were in pieces. There were also a lot of soldiers with bodies and no heads. Interestingly, the original army was armed with actual weapons such as swords, spears, and crossbows. Han soldiers came in, stole the weapons, and smashed some of the soldiers, which explains the current state that they're in. Also, the roof fell down as a result of an earthquake, so many warriors were completely shattered and have to be reassembled. There is also a Pit 4 that is empty, leading us to believe that perhaps the massive project of making the terracotta army was never entirely finished.
We stopped to get our photo taken with copies of the warriors set up for tourists. It wasn't that much if you give the workers their your own camera to use. You can also buy the (overpriced) printed out picture of yourselves if you want.
On our tour we learned that there were over 7,000 terracotta warriors built for Emperor Qin Shi Huang's tomb so that they could protect him in the afterlife. Qin Shi Huang is also credited with the Great Wall of China and one theory is that China is even named after him, as Qin is pronounced as "Chin." Although Qin Shi Huang did contribute positively to China's history, he did have the workers who helped create the Terracotta Warriors killed in order to keep the location of the pits a secret.
One pit was discovered in 1974, which is crazy since the warriors were created during the time of the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC.) The warriors were initially quite colorful, but now they are just white due to oxidation. On the Statue of the Kneeling Archer, traces of the original color can still be seen.
Each statue has incredible details and unique facial features. There are four different types of warriors: a general, soldier, archer, and officer. Besides the soldiers and weapons, chariots and horses were also discovered and can be seen today as well.
As promised, Pit One was the most incredible. The best part was at the very end by the exit when we were able to stand facing the warriors head on instead of just viewing the sides of them.
At the end, we visited the gift shop and I bought miniature replicas of some of the warriors and horses. So much for not wanting to shop, huh? Jia Jia took us to a place with "very good food" for lunch and after roughly 90 minutes on the bus, we arrived back in Xi'an. Jia Jia arranged it so that we could be dropped directly off at the wall that goes around Xi'an. We paid the entrance fee and walked around on top of it for a bit. All of us were starting to get super tired and cranky so we stopped at a nearby cafe. We pushed ourselves to go out to the Muslim Quarter, but once we got there we got a second wind! The Muslim Quarter is so lively and dynamic that it distracted us from our sleepiness. We walked around for at least an hour, sightseeing and sampling snacks and street food along the way.
The next day, we had to wake up at the crack of dawn again in order to catch our flight back to Shanghai, but we didn't mind because of what we just got to experience! Like I said, I was hesitant about going to Xi'an, but overall it was a great trip, and it was truly awe-inspiring to see about 2,000 warriors in Pit One!
Is seeing the Terracotta Warriors something that's on your bucket list?