2-Day Private Tour of Xi’an including Banpo Neolithic Village, Terracotta Warriors and Hot Springs Spa
This morning we ate breakfast in the traveller's cafe at the hostel and met Hamish and Kat again. We agreed to go to see the Terracotta Warriors together and met after we'd checked out and left our bags at reception.
To get there, we caught the 306 public bus to the train station adn ten found what we thought was the bus to the Warriors, so we got on and thankfully we were right! The woman yelling out where the bus was going through a megaphone outside in Chinese didn't really help us! We've been amazed at the cost of public transport here; it must be heavily subsidised as it only cost us £1.60 each to get all the way to the site, which must have been at least 30km away as the journey took an hour.
The Terracotta Warriors are the one sight I've been really desperate to see in China so we were all very excited! We were dropped off in a carpark and had to walk quite a way to get to the entrance to the site, past the usual hawkers selling drinks, paintings and the like. We had to buy two separate tickets - our entrance ticket and our ticket for the electric golf buggy that would take us to the main area of the site! After a quick ride, we were ready to explore, starting with the smallest of the three pits, Pit 3.
The Warriors were a life-size army that silenty stood guard over the tomb of Qin Shi Huang for over 2000 years until they were discovered in 1974 by some peasants digging a well. Qin Shi Huang was a tyrant who enslaved hundreds of thousands of people during his time as emperor and used them to build thousands of kilometres of roads and canals - he managed to conquer six kingdoms by the age of forty so his methods must have been successful! It's believed that he expected his rule to contineu in the afterlife and so needed an army to take with him. Pit 3 was an impressive start, and we got our first glimpse of some of the high-ranking warriors. Pit 2 was much larger - we couldn't believe the scale of the army and of the excavations to uncover them. Work is still going on to excavate further in Pit 2 and who knows what they'll find in years to come... Also in this pit they've removed and restored five warriors that you can see up close from behind glass, rather than just looking down into the pit. These included an archer, a cavalryman and his horse, and a general. The level of detail was extraordinary; every figure had individual, intricate details including unique expressions, hairstyles and armour.
We saved the best till last and headed for Pit 1 as our last stop. The building is vast and holds 6000 warriors, all facing east and ready for battle. We could also see lots of fragments of warriors and horses still in the pit, waiting to be removed and warriers that were almost fully restored - the archaeologists must be still hunting for the last few missing pieces! The hangar was crowded with Chinese tour groups and it was hard to take photos, but we managed to get some good ones! The whole place was incredible - one of the highlights of the trip and somewhere I'll never forget, apart from the film show in the cinema room at the end which looked likeit hadn't been updated since the warriors were discovered in the 70s!
After the long bus ride back to town, we had to hurry to eat so that we could get the bus to get our flight to Beijing. Unfortunately, the pizza we'd ordered took ages, but we managed to make the 6pm shuttle to the airport. After getting off the bus and trying to find our flight number on the board, we realised we were in the wrong terminal and had to walk through the airpot to get to check-in! Then our plane sat for over an hour on the runway with us all strapped in waiting for clearance to take off. Not going well so far!
When we arrived in Beijing, it was after 1am and we had to wait and hope that the shuttle bus wwas still running into Beijing. It eventually turned up only to drop us off in what seemed like the middle of nowhere and we got off to be surrounded by a swarm of taxi and hotel touts - not good at 2am! We managed to ask a security guard at a nearby hotel for directions and set off, along with three European girls who were looking for a room, to our hostel, which turned out to be not too far away. But our problems weren't over yet...we just wanted to get to bed, but first we had to deal with a receptionist who didn't speak very good English and who was trying to charge us for an extra night that we wouldn't be staying for! At about 3:30am, we eventually crawled into bed, exhausted. Might have to have a lie-in tomorrow before exploring Beijing!
2-Day Private Tour of Xi’an including Banpo Neolithic Village, Terracotta Warriors and Hot Springs SpaTour duration: 2 days, 1 night Category: Special