Friday, December 26, 2008
China Trip Day 4: Xian and the Terra Cotta Warriors
The night before, we arranged to take a tour to see the famous Terrs Cotta Warriors. After and unrestfull nights sleep (at least for me) due to people being loud outside our door and me freaking out that there was a time change I didn't know about, we met with our group at 9:30. We got there a bit early so I checked my email to see if the Shanghai hostel had gotten back to me, but still nothing. Once our group assembled, which took some time, we got on the shuttle bus and headed out. Me and Janet were in a group with 2 guys from Switzerland, and a couple from Germany. We got along well. Our first stop was a museum that showed the foundations of an ancient Chinese village. If you like ancient piles of dirt and random holes in the ground, I'm sure you'd love it, but for me it was kind of boring. And it was freezing inside the building too! It was warmer outside than inside.

Next we went to the tomb of some great Chinese emperor. It wasn't even his real tomb, just a replica of want they think it looks like. It was really touristy and a bit cheesy. You weren't supposed to take pictures inside, but I did as our English guide forgot to mention it till we were already half way through the tomb.

After that we went to a place were they make models of the Terra Cotta warriors and got to witness the process of their creation. Then we were sent to a huge gift shop. I wasn't interested in picking up anything but Janet found a wall of fake designer bags that were 50% off so I picked up a wallet for my mom to match the LV purse I got her in Korea and I didn't even have to go down some creepy back alley to do it either!

Oddly enough, out next stop was lunch. It was odd because the night before we were told by the front desk people that there would be no lunch and that we should pack something to eat, so we did. But it turns out we didn't need to. They took us to what was obviously a place designed for tourists and all of us did a set menu for 40 yuan, not a bad price and the food was pretty good, just not amazing like the other places we've eaten at so far. And now all the bread we bought for lunch can be tomorrow's breakfast. We even managed to find the Chinese version of melon pan. One annoying thing about the lunch was that they kept coming by with various dishes, trying to get us to 'upgrade' our meal.

After lunch, we finally headed to the main attraction, the Terra Cotta Warriors. Our guide took care of the tickets and we walked about a minute or so to get to the area where the building housing the warriors were. Before entering the main complex we had to go through a metal detector. Seems they are pretty serious about security here. We started at Pit 1, the largest, and took some pictures while our guide explained how the warrior were found by a farmer trying to dig a well. Then we moved onto Pit 3, which housed the statues of higher ranking officials. It was way smaller than the 1st pit. Last stop was Pit 2. It's not that interesting as most of it hasn't been excavated yet and thus looked like dirt walls., but it is in Pit 2 were they have 5 statues in glass cases that you can look at up close, including one that still had some color after all these years. Overall, both Janet and myself were unimpressed by the warriors, which while historically interesting, they're not much to look at. When exiting the area, our guide warned us to walk fast and keep our heads down to avoid the throngs of people trying to sell tourist goods. It was good advice as they were everywhere.

The ride back to the hostel felt like it took forever and I sort of fell asleep. When we arrived I checked my email and surprise, surprise, the Shanghai hostel finally got back to me and they said they would refund us for our plane tickets. Only problem now is to figure out how to do that as we won't be going back to Shanghai anytime soon. But at least I have it in writing that they've agreed to pay us back.

After resting a bit in our room, we headed out for some dinner. Yangropaomo to be exact. In the lonely planet it says that Xian is famous for this dish and there is a really famous 100 year old restaurant that serve the dish. So we went to find it and after getting a bit lost, finally managed to discover it. I don't think I would have ever been able to rind it without Janet's help. The outside was hard to spot and didn't look anything like what I expected. It actually looked a bit seedy and when we entered, the staff were a bit grumpy and mean. It was kinda scary. We sat down and Janet ordered us each one of the famous dished and some flower tea. Then we had to pay in advance! It was kind of strange, but we wanted to eat so..... Our meal consisted of 2 really thick pita bread that we had to tear apart into little chunks. Once we finished tearing apart the bread, the waitress came by and took the bread bits away to pour what is essentially hot water with spiced, lamb, and onions over our bread. It's some type of Muslim/Chinese fusion food and it was really good. We didn't break up our bread pieces enough though. It was also served with some pickled garlic which was interesting to try.

After dinner we headed back to the Muslim Quarter to walk around and look at stuff. We should really think ahead next time and not go out to eat before going there so that we actually have space in our stomachs to try some of the stall food! We got back to the hostel rather early, but we were both so tired that we ended up going to bed at like 10pm!

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