We love Chengdu, especially the people and the food, but every once and a while Ashley and I have to get out. Last weekend’s destination was Xi’an, home of the Terracotta Warriors – the “eighth wonder of the world,” (at least according one plaque).
The flight time between Chengdu to Xi’an is only an hour, but add air traffic control, late plane arrivals and rain and our short jump turned into a five hour ordeal. Arriving at 2:00 a.m. Ashley and I stumbled through check in, both paying someone for the airport pick-up (Ashley to the driver and myself to reception) and proceeded to crash. Oddly enough it took us over a day to realize what we had done. BUT! Mad props to the Shu Yuan hostel who actually gave us back the 150.00RMB two days after the fact.
Next morning it was off to see the Terracotta Warriors. We negotiated the train station and found the public bus with the fewest stops before the site and off we went. The trip looked as if it had come to an abrupt end when we were told to disembark in the middle of no-where. The bus attended insisted that it was across the street, and it was, but there were some uncertain times walking through a largely unoccupied tourist center.
Before most people visit the warriors they would have heard that each individual statue is unique. But only after you see the warriors can you appreciate the subtlety of the work. Start with the top knots which come in all shapes, sizes and sides of the head. Next are the mustaches, beards and eyes. Then you have the warriors who were skinny and those that are big boned. You even have army ranks within the soldiers. I would go on describing the way each warrior is individualized, but I think pictures do a better job.
On the way back Ashley and I ran into one of the highlights of the trip. I did not catch this man’s name because I was having too much fun bantering with him. He wanted to sell us a bundle of herbs/fruit that resembles a dead bunch of flowers. Even after sampling our free trial and realizing how unappetizing the plant tasted, the old mad successfully convinced us to buy a bushel and pay an extra five kuai to take this photo. Look at those glasses, you know it was worth every jiao.
Before leaving some friends recommended spending the rest of our time in the Xi’an Muslim Quarter. They were right. The main strip of the Quarter carries a slight waxy, tourist feel with stalls selling bags and theaters offering shadow puppets. But walk down the side streets and more genuine and authentic scene unfolds. And the food! the food! The cuisine in Shaanxi is often overlooked but the lamb, the paomo and the dumplings are excellent and make the trip worth it.
Sunday morning started a little later than planned but that’s fine too. A trip to the Shaanxi History museum made us feel more cultured and a stop at the Great Wild Goose Pagoda filled the spiritual component. Satisfied that we had seen the top sights of the city we returned to the Muslim Quarter for another meal. Just to make sure we had not missed anything…