This Chinese peasant farmer, whose picture we unfortunately did not get, had been earning the same meager existence he had before he found the treasure trove for many years after until President Clinton came to China for a visit. Clinton requested that during his visit he have his picture taken down among the Terracotta Warriors and that he get the autograph of the farmer who had discovered them. The only problem was that the farmer was uneducated and unable to write his own name. So the government sent him some tutors who decided what characters he should use and how to write them. He's been signing his name ever since.
On a side note, Clinton was also the only person to ever have his picture taken down among the soldiers. Even Chairman Mao had his picture taken from the observation platform.
Once we had our autograph we moved to the first warehouse that protects the biggest group of warriors from the elements. They estimate that there are about 6,000 warriors housed in there, but only a small percentage have been reconstructed. Even still there were enough reconstructed to instill a sense of amazement. They say that each face is different, modeled after a real soldier. And every last detail is sculpted, even the tread on the archer's shoes.
The first pit was the largest
The Terracotta Warriors were commissioned by Emperor Qin who declared himself the first emperor of China in 221 BC. The warriors were meant to protect his kingdom from any invaders or usurpers in death. They all face east which is in the direction of where Emperor Qin's enemies and defeated lands lay. There are generals, infantrymen, archers, and chariots. Only the horses and iron pieces of the chariots remain. The wood has long since rotted away. The warriors were also painted at one time but as soon as they excavated and the figures were exposed to the open air, the paint disappeared. The archeologists are now working on techniques to excavate the remaining pits in such a way as to preserve the colors.
After checking out the Terracotta Warriors we had lunch and then headed back to our hotel in Xi'an. We decided to explore the Muslim Quarter for dinner after being told that very good and very cheap food could be found there. We wandered around until we found a place that wasn't too crowded but still had a decent amount of people in it. The menu was overwhelming and lucky for us one of the waiters spoke some English so we convinced him to order for us. We ended up with cold sesame noodles, some spicy chicken, and a cooked cabbage dish, all of which were delicious. It was way more than we could finish and even with me ordering a beer the bill only came to roughly $8. It was like that almost everywhere we went in China. If you went to a McDonald's or a Starbucks you could expect to pay roughly the same as you would back home but if you were adventurous and went in a Chinese establishment then the prices dropped dramatically.
After dinner, we toured a traditional courtyard house that also had a shadow puppet show and perused the market. Back at our hotel we enjoyed spectacular views of the Bell Tower.
The Muslim Quarter at night.
The view from our hotel room.
The next morning mom, who had been feeling sick the last couple of days thanks to the pollution in Beijing, woke up feeling horrible. So Dad went out to see another nearby tomb while Mom and I slept in and checked out late. I ran out in the late morning to get her some medicine and was surprised to be offered a Z-pack at the pharmacy. I didn't buy it then but we did go back later and bought it for her and some more antibiotics for me to take back to Japan because doctors here seem disinclined to prescribe a full 10 day dose and I get sinus infections on a regular basis. (The last time I got 4 days worth.) It cost me less than $2!!!
Once we met up with dad we went back to the Muslim Quarter to do some more shopping, see the Great Mosque and have some lunch. The mosque was of particular interest because unlike any other mosque in the world it is built with Chinese architecture rather than Middle Eastern (although those elements are also present, they are more subtle.) All the flowers were blooming and it was really a lovely place. And the fact that in order to get to it you had to go through these small back alleys crammed with shops made it even more romantic.
In the market on the way back from the Mosque.
Birds for sale.
Before we caught our train back to Beijing we went in the Bell Tower, where we saw a short show featuring traditional Chinese music and I got to ring the bell three times. Dad also tried his best to get a picture of the city wall (the only city left in China that still has a wall intact.) The Bell Tower was traditionally used in the morning to signify the start of the work day and the drum tower down the street (which we didn't go in) signaled the end of the day. Both were impressive. We could hear the bell being rung by tourists from our hotel but we never did hear the drums.
Looking down to the main gate of the wall.
And then it onto the train station for more staring and another 12 hour ride back to Beijing. We all three agreed that we wished we could stay longer in Xi'an.
Next up: The taxi line of DOOM, the hutong, acrobats, and a huge photodump of the Forbidden City.