Terracotta Army

My first night on my own passed without incident. I was ready to face the world and after a coffee I was also awake enough for it. The tour to the Terracotta Army started at 9am. We were quite an assembly from all over the world. Half of Europe and America were on that bus. I shared my row with Jeff, an American “green” environment consultant from Portland. He came only for the tour to Xi’an down from Beijing. While sitting next to him he proved to be a fountain of travel information since he had been to China already a couple of times.

We arrived after a two hour drive at the excavation site and started our tour. First we went to the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. From it you can only see the man-made hill. Since he took mercury in minimal dosage to reach longevity, he kept at it in his death. He had a river of mercury laid around his grave. So although they know where the grave is, they cannot excavate it due to the high mercury level. We were told only 20 more years and then we could come visit.IMG_1979
If you are wondering it’s the little hill in the back, I just wanted to show that it is a World Heritage Site.

From there we walked back to the actual pit sites and started with site number 2. Here the only intact archer was found. All other statues have been painstakingly put together again. This was necessary because the roof caved in due to earthquakes.IMG_1980 IMG_1982 IMG_1984 IMG_1989 Please read how moderate they are about the chrome plating technology.
There are five different kinds of soldiers they found but the kneeling archer was the only one which was found whole. Probably because he knelt and there was less breaking surface.IMG_1987 IMG_1988 IMG_1990 IMG_1992 IMG_1995 IMG_1996 IMG_1997
Please note the details on the shoes. The nail imprints mean that he was married and his shoes were made by his wife.

In pit number 3 we could see a chariot and horses. Mongolian, which are the smaller ones, and Chinese. All figures were hollow by the way and had a hole somewhere for the steam to go out while they were burnt in the kiln.IMG_2006 IMG_2010 IMG_2013
Finally we went to pit number 1 with the biggest and most important find. Here the soldiers were initially found while some farmers were digging for a well. The different faces were noticeably and while the body was done by a mold the head was done by an artist. Every worker on this project got eternalized in the face of a soldier. And afterwards they were all killed.IMG_2014 IMG_2015 IMG_2017 IMG_2018 IMG_2021 IMG_2023 IMG_2025 IMG_2027
We then watched a movie for 20 minutes about the history of the emperor and the unification of China and then went for lunch. I was starving by then since I had had only coffee for breakfast.

After lunch we slowly made our way back into the city. Apparently there was a lot of traffic since the autoroute was closed.

A plan was hacked on route to go bicycling up on the old city walls and our tour guide let us out at the gate. A short while later we started to cycle on top of the wall.IMG_2030 IMG_2033 IMG_2034 IMG_2037 IMG_2038 IMG_2041 IMG_2043
After the cultural impressions during the day the sporty part was just the perfect ending to this wonderful first day. But more was to come. We walked from the gate near the hostel to look for the mosque. Which we actually never found, but an amazing food market instead. Yours, Pollybert

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Goodbye Tibet

Our last day in Lhasa started without breakfast. Due to the lack of guests there was no Chinese buffet waiting for but actually only an empty dining room. But somebody must have noticed because after a while we got some tea, coffee and Western breakfast (fried egg, bacon and grilled tomato). Not the start I would have wished for, but what can I say.

At 11:30 our guide and driver arrived to bring us to the airport and after a relatively easy security check we were waiting for our plane. This was delayed as every other flight that day, but eventually we boarded and left Lhasa.

Three hours later we arrived in Xi’an where I got off and Sylvia changed plane to Urumqi.

I helped her to check-in since she was taking my warm clothes back home and then she came with me to the airport shuttle. It was time to say goodbye, we hugged (actually quite often) and then I was on my own.

The shuttle came and I got my first idea how it will be with the Chinese. There was no lining up, there was just ‘who is first on the bus’. Clearly I had the wrong tactic but I managed to store my backpack and get a seat on the bus.

Although the hostel had a description on their website on how to get there, it was not as easy. I got off in the city with everybody else but then couldn’t find the 603 bus station to get to the hostel. At least I could see it driving by and I just followed in its wake. When I found a bus station that looked like the ones in Lhasa, I stopped and hoped for the best.

The best was then a young couple who asked me in English if I was waiting for the bus. I had been forewarned that all approaching Chinese are scammers and just want to steal something so I tried to keep my distance. But they insisted and also told me to take care of my belongings since their phone got stolen the day before, so I just followed since the stop I was waiting at was clearly not the right place.

And here I have to apologize to them because they brought me to the right stop and were really helpful! I got on the bus, and after two stations and some more running around in back alleys I found my hostel, the Han Tang House where a dorm bed waited for me.

I loved the good start to my traveling adventure. Let’s see what else it holds in store. Yours, Pollybert