Underwhelming Warriors

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August 13th 2012
Published: August 18th 2012
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On top of the city wallOn top of the city wallOn top of the city wall

Notice the smog. The next tower in the distance is only a couple hundred meters away
I arrived in Xi'an by plane to avoid a 20 hour train ride. It is amazing just how big China really is and I was kind of surprised it was a two and a half hour plane ride from Shanghai. I had only come to spend a day and half in the city before continuing on to Beijing and for me that was plenty though there are many more things one could do outside the city.

With just as bad, or maybe worse, smog as Shanghai, I was a little surprised how big the city actually was. The main part that people visit is in the inside of the ancient city walls, but the city goes on for miles outside the walls. The area inside the walls in really large in itself and I couldn't even bike around the top of the whole wall in an hour and half. (Biking the wall is a rather popular thing to do.)

The main thing people come here to see is the Terracotta warriors which are excavated clay warriors and horses as well as bronze chariots and horses. They were built during the Quin Dynasty but just recently discovered in the 1970s and have since become a huge tourist attraction. They continue to excavate more but to date have unearthed about 8,000 clay warriors and horses and 10,000 bronze weapons. Like any place similar to this, it is now a UNESCO world heritage site, and according to the literature they have printed at the site, people are calling it the "eighth wonder of the world". (I want to know how many "wonders" people will come up with...)

I was a little underwhelmed by the whole place. While interesting, I think it is hyped up a little too much. The other thing that kind of spoiled it for me, was all the Chinese tourist. I guess this is summer vacation for a lot of Chinese people, so they are out visiting places in their own country like we would during our summer. Except, most Chinese seem to travel in organized tour groups. Just think of any time where you were at a popular tourist attraction and there is always those couple huge groups of Chinese people with the person in front with the flag. They kind of take over where they are at and seem oblivious to other visitors there. Now multiple that by a hundred and you get more or less what it is like with all these tour groups at the warrior exhibits. It's nuts! Squeezing in to get pictures and the constant loud shouting of the guides gets to the most patient of us and I was ready to leave pretty quick after arriving and seeing the place.

One other fun experience I had while in Xi'an was going to dinner with some people from the hostel. There were two from Germany and one from Argentina that was living in Spain. The Germans of course spoke perfect English but the gal living in Spain had pretty basic English (like most Spaniards) and was more comfortable talking Spanish. The Germans also knew Spanish, so we mostly talked in Spanish, which was a first for me in a while. I'm not good at Spanish by any means but I can get by and it was fun to use the language again. What made dinner most fun though was trying communicate with the restaurant wait staff which didn't speak any English except for the word "beer". We left it to the Spanish gal who seemed to get the message across the best using crazy hand gestures, pointing, and getting up and grabbing things. The rest of us found it quite entertaining as did everyone in the restaurant, but it was successful and even though we had the restaurant people pointing and talking about us the entire time we were there, we really enjoyed our meal.

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