Today we were up early and met our guide at 545am to take us to the airport. We were doing a day trip and went via air down to Xian to see the terra-cotta warriors, saves time and it is a fair distance, maybe around Melbourne to Sydney, maybe more. We were so quick at getting through security screening, again we pretty much just got waved through. Great to have an Aussie passport. We didn't have breakfast before we left the hotel so we took on the delights of beijings domestic terminal. I ended up with a lovely coffee and 3 pork dumplings, whilst Michelle had a type of Wonton noodle/dumpling soup. So I had 'toast' and Michelle had 'cereal'. Had we known we were going to get such a big feed of breakfast on the plane we may not have bothered.
We finished breaky, found our gate and commenced being stared at. It has happened alot so far, many long stares, even some photos. Our flight was called and we settled in for the ~2hr flight on hanian airlines. We were served a super breakfast, rice porridge, fruit, apple crisps, stuff like pickles to put on porridge and a token airline style bread roll. Once we had a super bellyfull it was time for a snooze.
We left a very sunny Beijing to find a very hazy, overcast Xian. Not sure of the cause immediately but it became apparent that Xian is a very industrial city so the haze was a bi-product of the industries. The smell was somewhat like Mayfield/Newcastle pre refurbishment. We were met by our guide Bruce, he was very nice and Spoke very reasonable english. The airport is about an hour from the city so we took on many sights along the way. Our first stop in Xian was to see/climb the city wall. Xian used to be the ancient capital if china, during the Qing dynasty (I think) and the only place in china where the city wall is still completely intact. 13.7km to walk around it in it's entirety. The wall had been extended over time and the southwest corner is the only original so we took off on a trek there, seeing many watchtowers along to way. The southwest corner is different because it is round, where the others are square. All up it was a 4pm round trip in about 45mins. Very quick but it meant that we had earned our lunch, which again was a Chinese Buffett. This one was housed in a very elaborate theatre. After lunch it was time to see the warriors. We stopped along the way at a factory that makes the warriors and alot of other Chinese handicraft. Some of the furniture was exquisite and all handmade. We then were off to see the real thing. We got a golf cart to the entrance, through another security screen and then we were there. We watched a movie, surprisingly in English about the emperor that made it all happen. He is also the guy responsible for the great wall. It went something like he became emperor at 13 but took power at 21. Crazy guy with huge plans and by the sounds of it an ego to match it. It took some 720000 people to build the warriors over 39 years. 3 pits have been uncovered and every warrior is different. They do not want to exhume anymore as the statues oxidize and lose their colour. The statues comprise of types of soldiers, general, officer, infantry, archers and other dignatries as well. Even horses and chariots. We noticed that there were no female statues but when the emperor died all his concubines were buried alive in his tomb with him. Doesn't sound like a great job to me.
The different soldiers can be told apart by their attire, different uniforms and particularly different hair styles.
The emperor died suddenly at the age of 59 and after he died there was much civil unrest and the next mob to take over the area destroyed all the statues in the tomb. There was only one complete statue found, an archer. All the statues that you can see today have been painstakingly put back together piece by piece by a team of many archeologists. They've done a good job too.
The warriors are situated in a good feng shui location, between a mountain and a river.
The grand thing at the warriors is that one of the original farmed that found the warriors is still alive, 83. His job is to sit there and sign autographs.
Once we were all warriored out we returned to the airport, said goodbye to Bruce and took our flight back to Beijing. We flew back with china southern airlines aka sichuan airlines. Super huge security check, metal detector and very long frisk. It could almost be classed as a massage. Once again I got in trouble for having water, at least the security lady was much more nicer than that bloke in Sydney. Our flight was slightly delayed leaving Xian and as soon as it was the scheduled boarding time a new game commenced, the line ride. There wasnt even anyone at the desk to let people on but sure a nellie about 50 people had lined up and were ready to go. Before the line ride we wandered around the airport looking at strange delicacies, for example vacuum packaged chicken feet and cryovaced legs of lamb. Just your typical airline food. Speaking of food we had a great noodle dish on the plane. This flight was the first flight I'd ever seen the vomit bag actually get used, and it wasn't even turbulent. Interesting experience when the lady 2 seats away has an impromptu spew. I think it may have been a few peoples first plane ride as there were many pictures to be taken both in and out of the plane. We got off the plane and did a huge lappie around the airport, good to see the sights of the worlds largest airport, another chinese engineering masterpiece. Once we back there were a couple of well deserved showers (they're so hard to get out of), and it was time to hit the hay, or silk as we think the case may be.