Tuesday, October 12, 2010

drowned rats in Xi'an

Sorry once more for another mini-drought in blogging! Since we're still completely overwhelmed with our vacation posts, we've decided to talk first about our weekend trip with Stacy and Courtney (Alison's cousin and sister, respectively, for those on my side who aren't yet familiar with them) to Xi'an. After I traumatized our visitors by my aggressive bargaining at the packed Panjiayuan market,
(sorry for the crooked picture; Courtney on left, Stacy on right) we went out to dinner with Sarah and her visiting boyfriend and then headed the train station for our overnight ultra-luxurious journey to the land of the terracotta warriors (and honkies, as we now call white tourists).

The advantage to traveling with 4 people in a soft-sleeper is that you get the entire cabin to yourself!
We played board games and had a picnic in the train before we got to our bunkbeds and had a great night's sleep.

The train was awesome, we were able to check in early to our hotel so we showered and changed--everything was wonderful... until we left our hotel. It was pouring and did not stop raining all day. We took the ghetto-fabulous dollar bus to the tourist site ...
...and were excited enough by our "off-the-beaten-path" traveling to not let the rain get us down. But, this being China (recurrent theme, I guess), the bus dropped us off on the side of the highway and we had to walk 20 minutes to the park entrance...and then walk another 10 minutes to the trolley to the museum. By the time we actually got there, all 4 of us had sopping wet jeans, "squelchy" shoes (as a British women said), and, since I was the only one with a functioning rainjacket, the Rosenberg clan also had soaked shirts. To give you an indication of what we looked like, here's a picture of us on our way back:

Give me a break--I have a backpack on under there! And please note that Alison's shirt is originally colored light green...like her stomach...and this was UNDER her rain jacket ;)

But never matter...because we entered pit number 3 to see the high-ranking officials and our first sight was
Even without heads, they were impressive! We're going to make an album of all our terracotta pictures (and by our we mean Alison's as her camera was the only one that could deal with the fancy lighting) because we know some people (like my mom) don't care about the warriors while others (like Alison's mom) are obsessed with them. So you can get the best of both worlds! We continued on to pit 1 (which is the best pit by far, so you should end there) and this is what we saw:
The scope of the site was impressive on two scales: the first was the size.

(The curved part that looks like it has ruts in it is remannts of the roof). The second is the detail.

Here is a close-up of the soldiers. They all have different faces, hairstyles, clothes, and arm position. A lot of people were working full time on these puppies to get them ready for the emperor's death! By this stage, we thought we could give the terracotta warriors a run for their money:

After the trip, we did the whole walking-in-the-pouring-rain-to-the-side-of-the-highway thing back to the hotel, where we ordered in dinner. Somehow, we got 6 portions of rice, 2 portions of eggplant, and a bag of soup. But hey, we were warm ;)

The next day, we went to a less well-known tomb of terracotta archeological masterpieces: the tomb of Emperor Jingli.
We highly recommend the site--it was also very interesting that a few centuries later a different Emperor from a different dynasty (the Western Han vs the Qing) constructed a similar tomb, except in miniature.
His figurings had wooden arms that moved (and long rotted away) and identifiable genitalia (that's why this post is rated pg-13). They also had enough animals
and grain pots buried there to feed the people.
I also got a huge kick out of the gift shop, which was selling what looked like parts of the museum. When I asked if they were antiques, the woman said yes, and when I said, are they from here? She sheepishly said, well, we're not allowed to sell those, but we can certify that these are replicas made over 200 years ago of the terracotta figures. It cracked me up that, even 200 years ago, they were selling crappy replicas to tourists.

We then wandered around Xi'an, which used to be extremely impor
tant in the Silk Road and a very powerful and wealthy city. Here's the ancient city wall:

And here is a man we saw in our wanderings who is selling goldfish off the flatbed of his bike. Oh, China.

Now we're back in Beijing, safe and sound. My last thought is simple: you might take the girls out of Carolina, but you'll never take...
Carolina out of the girls!

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