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Published: September 24th 2005
Wednesday, September 7, 2005 Weather: Sunny. Temperature: Quite warm - high 80's to low 90's.
We had an early start today as our stay in Xi'an was only for one night so bags had to be out for collection before going to breakfast. The Shangri-la serves a delightful buffet breakfast with an omelet station, lots of fruit and a nice selection of breads and pastries.
Our only stop in Xi'an was to visit the Terra Cotta Warriors Museum. The Museum is located at the site where the farmer digging a well back in 1975 came upon this discovery that has since marveled the world. It is located about 1 hour from Xi'an by bus ride. As we approached the area our local guide pointed out a hill in the otherwise level landscape and told us that this was the burial site of Emperor Qin Shi Huang who spent decades of time and employed tens of thousands of workers to build his Mausoleum within that hill. To this day the Mausoleum of Qin has never been excavated and undoubtedly contains untold treasures. The Terra Cotta Warriors were discovered a few miles to the east of the hill and over the
last 30 years more than 6,000 life sized figures have been discovered. Many were found damaged and have been painstakingly restored. Several large buildings have been constructed around the find and the Warriors still stand where they were originally found.
The exhibit provides access at an elevated level above the site and completely surrounds it. There is no access permitted to the "dig" but everything is clearly visible and flash photography is permitted. The entire area can easily be toured in an hour or two and is provided with signs from place to place describing in English what lies before the visitor.
There was no restoration work ongoing while we were visiting the site but we were advised that work was scheduled every second day. The Museum was large enough to handle the many people visiting without it seeming to be crowded. There was ample time to see everything before having lunch at the Museum Restaurant and then visiting another exhibit hall before returning to the bus for the 1 hour ride to the airport for our 4 p.m. flight on Air China to Chengdu where we are scheduled to spend the night before an early morning departure
We arrived with plenty of time to spare, checked in our luggage, received our boarding passes and proceed to the gate where we expected to board at 3:30 p.m. When the boarding time arrived we could see that there was no airplane at the gate. Sitting on the podium was a sign labeled Passenger Flight Information. One problem, it was written in all Chinese characters and the only thing that we could recognize was our flight number. The attendant at the gate could not speak a word of English and out tour guide was nowhere to be found. By looking at the TV monitors we noticed that our departure time had been deleted. Eventually there was an announcement over the public address system, in English as well as Chinese, advising that our flight would be delayed due to equipment re-allocation. The delay kept getting extended and eventually they brought us dinners (Chinese, of course) to eat in the waiting area. Our flight did arrive around 6:40 p.m. and we took off for Chengdu at about 7:15 p.m. thoroughly tired of sitting around in an airport. But, being seasoned travelers, we know that these things happen.
It was planned for us to have dinner at the Sheraton where a combined eastern/western buffet was offered. Our guide kept in touch with the hotel by cell phone advising them of our delay. They kept the buffet open well past the normal closing hour to provide us with a nice dinner as promised. However, by the time that we arrived at the Sheraton Hotel in Chengdu all we wanted to do was go to bed so that is how the day ended.
Next: Lhasa, Tibet.
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