1st Oct 2010 - 2nd Oct 2010 - China
We spent our third night on the train and I probably got the least sleep of any due to the incredibly loud snorer in the bunk across from me. Delightful! For the first time we actually had morning on board the train as we weren’t due into Xian until lunchtime. I spent most of it looking out of the window at the fog/pollution (according to the Government and consequently the locals it’s fog, to any Westerner it’s clearly pollution). The journey spent a lot of time high up in the mountains, before eventually arriving at Xian at 1.00pm. Due to the public holiday there was a massive scramble for the limited taxis meaning we had to wait at the station for another hour before we could get going. We made it out to explore around 4pm heading first to the Bell Tower and then to the Drum Tower. The towers were there to get those working the City Walls know when it was time to open or close the gates as the bells were rung in the Bell Tower to signify that it was time to open them in the morning whilst the Drum was rung in the Drum Tower in the evening to signify that it was time to close the gates. From the Towers we then headed out to the City Walls which are 14km all the way around and have ramparts every 120m or so. Originally there were only 4 gates – North, South, East and West and each of these has 3 towers protecting it – although more gates have been created in recent times to allow locals more entrance routes into the City. We entered into the South Gate and walked round to the West Gate and as it got dark whilst we were up there we got to see the City and the Walls by night. All Towers were lit up looking very beautiful. Leaving the walls we went back into the main part of town and headed for the Muslim Quarter. There were so many people around; the place was nuts and such a shock from the calm and sereneness of the wall.
The next morning and we woke up to see something of a Chinese rarity – the sun. We had a clear blue sky, no clouds and the sun was shining. It was a lovely sight. We transferred to the sight of the Terracotta Warriors. The warriors guard the tomb of the First Qin Emperor and date from around 210BC. It is believed they were there to protect the Emperor as he arrived in the afterlife. No one knew they existed until their discovery in the mid 70’s. A farmer was digging a well on his land when he came across some ancient artefacts. He informed the Chinese Government who paid him 18Yuan (£1.80) for his discovery. However, when the archaeologists started digging they came across the pits full of the Warriors. The farmer never got any further recompense but he does spend his days at the site signing copies of his book for tourists. There have been 3 pits found, containing around 10,000 warriors. No two of the warriors have the same face they are all made to be unique. The main pit, Pit 1, contains around 8,000 warriors in 11 corridors about 3m wide. Each of these corridors is over 200m long. There were 5 different types of warrior – the warrior (standing with a top knot on the right), officer (standing with a double top knot), general (standing with a square top knot), archer (kneeling with a top knot on the left) and emperor (standing with a square top knot and a sword). There are also horsemen with their horses. After Pit 1 it was on to Pits 2 & 3. There are fewer warriors here, and many of them are in need of a bit of TLC as they are missing heads or limbs due to the excavation work which is still ongoing in these pits. There were also display boards showing pictures of some of the warriors when they were first found as they had many colours on them. After leaving the pits we went into the museum where they had an example of a warrior and a chariot being drawn by 4 horses to view. They also had a giant warrior as used in the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. From the Warriors it was back to the station for our final overnight train ride of the holiday.