After our exhausting but exciting day in Xi’an the day before, Ashley and I woke up excited for the Terracotta Warrior tour. There were a number of people from our hostel going on the same tour so we were all waiting downstairs for the bus to come. Across the street there was a small street vendor who was making some fried bread. We made our way there and asked for a fresh piece and it ended up costing just 10 cents. It turned out to be amazing and was sort of a cross between bread and a doughnut. After our quick breakfast our tour group loaded up on the bus for our 1 hour drive out to the Terracotta Warriors.
The Terracotta Warriors
The back story of the Terracotta Warriors is actually pretty interesting. A total of 3 pits containing the warriors have been discovered so far and they include over 8,000 soldiers. The discovery was made in 1974 by a farmer who was digging a water well and came across fragments of the warriors. The warriors were part of a large Tomb that dates back to 246 BCE. They were originally all painted but the paint has obviously come off all of them with the exception of 1 that still has paint fragments on it. Over 700,000 workers were involved in everything related to creating this tomb.
When you arrive at the exhibit our guide took us through the buildings in reverse order. The 3rd room has a lot of fragments and they say it will take decades to fully construct all the fragments together. When you see the fragments and then see the finished product it really gives you an appreciation for both the construction when they were created and also the immense amount of work it has taken to reconstruct everything. They have been working on this non-stop since 1976 and there is still decades of work left to be accomplished.
We made our way into the 2nd tomb area and the figures there had been completely put together. In addition to the warriors themselves, they also created horses and chariots for the warriors as well. The horses all had a hole in their side to allow air flow for preservation. This was apparently an original feature.
We finally made our way into the 1st tomb and we were struck by how large the area was. It was really an amazing experience in person and the pictures don’t really do it justice. We made our way from the back of the area up to the front where you could look back and see all the Terracotta Warriors staring back at you. Near the front of the tomb is the spot where the farmer had been digging his well and came across the fragments that ultimately led to the discovery.
After visiting the Terracotta warriors, we took a short walk to a restaurant nearby. Our tour included a buffet style lunch for our table similar to the one at the great wall of China. The food was better than most other food we had which was a nice surprise. Part of the lunch also included a tea sampling for those who were interested. We had a fun table of people and everyone wanted to give it a try. They give you a menu of different types of teas that explains the health benefits of each. The group would pick our various teas they wanted to try and the girl helping us would make a pot of it and give everyone a sample.
Our super fast visit to Xi’an was quickly coming to an end. We made our way back to the hostel to retrieve our bags before heading to the train station. We had another over night train to catch that would take us from Xi’an to Shanghai. On our way to Xi’an we were in a “soft sleeper” which meant it was 4 people and it had a door. On the way out of Xi’an, we were in a “hard sleeper” which meant we had no door on the cabin and it was 6 people (3 stacked on each side) instead of 4. Knowing this was going to be an uncomfortable ride, I wanted to get to the train early so we could at least get decent bunks. We lined up pretty early and were near the very front.
On each side of us there were chairs along the edges leading up to the gate and it was absolutely packed with people waiting to get on. As we stood there waiting, someone pushed their forearm into my back and shoved me so hard I almost fell over the front of my bag (not an exaggeration). I turn around to see a small woman push past me shoving other people aside as well to make her way up to the front of the line. She was not meeting up with anyone at the front, she simply wanted to be at the front and shoved people out of her way to get there. I pointed her out to Ashley and noted her floral pattern shirt.
As we get on the train and we’re the first to arrive, I come up to our open 6 sleeper cabin and guess who’s bunking with us? Floral pattern lady who shoved me in the back to push her way to the front. Ashley and I are in the top bunks which have about 2 feet between the bottom of the bunk and the ceiling. Ashley and I each made our way up to our
coffins bunks and stayed there for the entire 17 hour trip with the exception of going to the bathroom. A couple Advil PM’s later we were arriving and Shanghai!