Published: July 27th 2012July 27th 2012
Xi'an is pronounced She-ann. This is the end of the silk road! It has been a journey of two and a half months, but in camel days it would take two years to cover the whole distance.
Xi'an is a huge city and (for better or worse) it has an ample supply of western stores including Macdonalds, Starbucks etc. for Internet though I am in the youth hostel, as the hotel only has cable.
Xi'an is famous for the terracotta warriors and we visited them this morning. The images on tv and in books do not really capture the scale of the site. Hundreds of visitors spread out in the huge aircraft hangar sized hall that is pit 1. All the warriors have individual faces. There are some pot bellied ones from drinking too much liquor and some slim ones who must have abstained. In addition to the warriors there are horses and bronze chariots. It is astonishing that all this workmanship was for a tomb and not for display. The emperor ordered this mausoleum was the first emperor of the Qin dynasty. This emperor, Qin Shi Huang, unified China and began the construction of the Great Wall.
On the way to thewarriors we had a police stop that amused us. The police man had not noticed that the Aziza was left hand drive. He had seen Kat fanning herself and paying no attention to the road. He had not realised that Tom was driving!
Xi'an is full of surprises and I did not expect to be so impressed by the Beilin museum yesterday. This museum contains the forest of stelae. The stone stelae are inscribed with calligraphy and art. They start with the Confucian classics. The calligraphy has different styles. Room 4 contains the art and in this room rubbings are made of the stelae. A thin piece of paper is placed over the stone and then the inscriptions are marked out by depressing the paper onto the stele. Black ink covers the paper and the inscriptions stand out in white.
In addition this museum has a varied collection of sculptures from different periods. The animal sculptures literally make a big impression - including a 10 ton rhinocerous. I was able to relate some of the sculptures To their equivalent painting style at Dunhuang.
In the evening we sampled one of the local dishes, paomo. It is a sort of soup with mutton and pieces of bread, smaller than croutons.