Saturday, 10 September 2011

Terra Cotta Warriors and Back to Beijing

The next day we headed off to the train station and made our way to Xi’an and the Terra Cotta Warriors, another UNESCO world heritage site and the 8th Wonder of the World.  On our way to the Warriors we stopped off at Banpo village ruins, the remains of a 6000 year old village.  This site was interesting to us as it was very similar to first nations ruins that we are familiar with in BC.   The structure of the dwellings, the tools they used and the crafts they made could all be easily mistaken for first nations artifacts.

When we reached the Warriors we saw more western faces in the first five minutes than we had during our entire time in China.  Everywhere we had been before was packed with Chinese tourists but at the Warriors it was different, it was packed with westerners.  I would have had no idea there were so many westerners in all of China if we hadn’t gone here.   The Warriors are located in a huge museum surrounded by a platform that you look at them from.  There are over 8000 distinct life sized Warriors as well as hundreds of chariots and countless weapons that all date from the 3rd century BC.   The first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang had these built to protect him in his afterlife.  He must have done some pretty lousy things for him to think he needed that much protection.  This was obviously another impressive site but I have to admit, not being able to get very close to them took a little away from the experience. 

Having already spent a pretty full day we were dropped off a little way from the train station where we would catch an overnight train back to Beijing.  This was the craziest part of the trip so far.  The area around the station was wall to wall, or pavement to pavement people, with no other foreigners in sight.  When we finally got across the street close to the station, we had no idea where to go and had real difficulty asking anyone as no one spoke any English.  It was hot, smelly and dirty.  People were camped out everywhere.  We eventually got into the station and found what we hoped was the right line up and stood, packed in with others, waiting with all of our luggage for well over an hour.  It was a relief to get onto the train, we just hoped we were on the right one.  We had our own little cabin that was actually pretty comfortable, except for the occasional wafts of smoke that blew in.  The fact that we had not had time to stop and buy food meant that we were pretty hungry by the time we got back to Beijing, 13 hours after we got on board.   In spite of the lack of food and the bit of smoke, we all managed to get a little sleep and overall it was a cool experience.

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