Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Terracotta Warriors

Our final day in Xi'an quickly appeared and we were ready to again try our luck at visiting the Terracotta Warriors. This time we went public transportation all the way by catching a bus near our hotel. Upon getting dropped off at the same "starting" point as Wednesday, we managed to pick up two additional backpackers. They also wanted to visit the stone army and were much more clueless than us. Our warning of the wrong bus on the day before did little to shake them off our path. This time, we began asking the bus monitors for Bus 306. Fingers continued to point across a large, brick square that we finally crossed to see a few signs indicating the correct bus. We were en route!

The visiting area is massive and not at all as Krista remembers from 15 years ago. In fact, we walked for an extended period before reaching the space that the bus let her out during the last visit. Now the walk-up is populated by restaurants, knick-knack stores and lots more new construction. The day featured hazy skies but the mountains in the distance were still visible.

The complex is divided into multiple buildings containing a pit, or archaeological dig. We visited in an order that seemed to be showcase / modern to old school. (Personally, I liked the older pit the best.) 

Our first view - this building was climate controlled and not fully excavated.

Some rows were falling out.

Hanging out in a glass box.

Remember, this is all carved in stone.

Fully excavated and set-up as it was likely intended.

Working together for a better view. 
The army pours out...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bus gone south = great exploration

"Let's make sure we visit the Terracotta Warriors on Wednesday so we something doesn't happen and we miss going."

As it turned out, these words came packed with a good dose of advice. On Wednesday, we popped up and tried to find a cab ride up to the train/bus station where we were told a bus would whisk us away to the warriors. We walked and walked and walked but due to dividing medians, safety barriers and full cabs nothing pulled over for us. Coming up to a bunch of tuk-tuk taxis, we took one for the one rip-off of the trip. The local accent makes 40 sound a lot like 10 and it wasn't clear until we got out that he meant 40 yuan for the ride. Anyway, we were deposited at the station and began going into entrance after entrance looking for some sign as to the bus we needed. Seriously, people from all over the world come to see the terracotta warriors and there was not one sign or indication in the area. All we knew was that we needed bus 306. Finally, we found a reference on a monitor as 5(306). Did that mean bus 5 would also take us? Bus 5 showed up, we hopped on and were soon heading down the road.

Yay! Here we go to see the warriors! Umm, the warriors are located to the east of Xi'an and the early morning sun was not shining in our faces but to the left. We were heading south and soon exited the city walls. Something was wrong. We got off at the next stop and began walking back towards the old city. As it turns out, we were close to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda that we visited the day before.

Returning through the city walls, we found a stairway leading to the ramparts so up we went. The morning haze / pollution had not yet blown out but was rapidly clearing as we wandered along the wide lanes on top of the walls. Few others were also on top though a bike or two would periodically zip by.

Our walk was taking us in the direction of a museum we wanted to see. The collection is of large stone inscriptions from buildings or other monuments / art from around the country. Called the Steele Museum, it was nice to wander about, see the inscriptions and watch workers make rubbings (the girls both passed out as we entered the museum).

Opening courtyard

Old, big bell
Making rubbings of the inscriptions

The detail in the stone carvings is amazing!
The Steele Museum opens up Xi'an's art district, which is nestled along the south wall of the city. The streets were lined with vendors selling brushes, pottery, paintings and lots more. We were again lucky as the streets were fairly empty.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Xi'an - The Muslim Quarter

The Drum and Bell Towers of Xi'an make a southern border of the Muslim Quarter and we enjoyed a stroll through this active area each night. Nestled inside the tight passages of the Muslim Quarter is the Great Mosque. The mosque was founded in 742 and is known to be the oldest mosque in China. I was a bit surprised as we toured to not find any minarets as all the other mosques that I have visited. The layout was beautiful and it was amazing to find so much calmness in the middle of a busy city.

Entering into the mosque area.

Beautiful blooms filled up the courtyards.

The girls loved roaming about. By chance, we showed up around the same time as the 5:00 prayer but it was quickly over and they ran about.

Old Well

Many vats held fish and I believe the girls inspected each to make to see if any were swimming around.

Long corridors lined both sides of the the courtyards.

This blurry image is of the windy, vendor-filled corridors of the Muslim Quarter.