Jane and I at the Terra Cotta Warriors.

It was nice getting out of the cold of Beijing by heading to Xi’an, home of the Terra cotta Soldiers.  We travelled by train in a sleeper car overnight that had 4 beds.  I can’t say I slept all that well, the thing shook and rattled all night and the china man in the lower bunk snored.  I contemplated whether it would be rude to poke an absolute stranger to get him to stop, but I didn’t.  We made it to Xi’an without really knowing anything about it.

Its a pretty large city actually, but for some reason I really felt quite comfortable there.  The general feeling was much more relaxed, and it probably helped that it wasn’t as cold.  We stayed in a place that was actually one of 4 apartments the people ‘rented’ out for backpackers.  It was a tremendous value, in Beijing we had been in a tiny space, this had several rooms including a kitchen and a bathroom without limited hotwater. 

Xi’an is a walled city that has outgrown its protective walls, with a population of around 6 million people, and a large amount of muslim chinese instead of Buddhist.  It has two large towers that it is known for, the Drum Tower and the Bell Tower.  These two towers are near identical, except one has drums on it and one has bells.  These were used for time keeping and informing the guards to open and close the gates at certain times.  When I went up in it, I paid a few dollars to ring the bell, Jane says that I probably scared the lady who was collecting money for it as I really rammed the log ram into the bell.  Im sure this is a tourist feature the locals ‘love’.  /sarcasm.

The Bell Tower at night.

Ringing the bell.

We visited the Terra cotta warriors, which were a ways outside of town.  I hadn’t realized/remembered that they were a pretty ‘recent’ discovery in the overall history of things.  They were discovered in 1974 by a farmer drilling a well, and the first showing of them occurred in 1979.  There are several hundred warriors uncovered, and many more that have not been excavated or have been reburried for the protection of their color.  You see, once they are dug up the color fades rather quickly until they are just plain old clay colored.  This was quite a site to see, we had seen quite a few tombs, and artifacts placed in tombs in Egypt, but we hadn’t seen a whole army.  The units were even placed in strategic positions to protect the sides of the army.  There are 4 different sites of warriors, the main infantry one is the one most commonly shown, as in these pictures as well.  Man of the warriors didn’t make it in one piece, our guide said that it takes an restorer 3 months to restore one warrior.  One of the sites isn’t excavated at all yet, and each site has different units in it.

Lines of Terra Cotta Soldiers.

Changing up the lines.

Their weapons have long since decayed.

Many lay in pieces, waiting to be exhumed and reassembled.

When we were back in Xi’an I signed us up for a Dumpling feast at a classic Han dance show.  The dumplings were tasty, but to be honest I could barely detect the differences with them.  I guess thats what you get when you dip them in Soy.  The dancing was interesting, as the ladies have long flowy arms that they twirl about.  The men did an ancient mask dance to scare away evil, halfway during the dance a giant head came down that must have represented evil.  It look  like Blanka from Street fighter to me.

Plenty of Dumplings.

Long armed dancers.


The Night market that happens every night in the muslim area of town is awesome.  They push all these carts into the middle of the streets and cook all kinds of stuff and of course they sell things.  Jane bought several handbags after negotiating a reasonable price, I really don’t enjoy doing this bargaining.  I developed a formula that seems to work with the way they do it.   They start off by telling you what ‘the item is worth’, which is a total BS number, then they tell you what they are offering to you, because you are such a good customer.  You take this second number, and you multiply it by .3, thats a good price for the item.  Now you have to figure you have at least 4 back and forths over price, so if they offered you 100, you know you can get it for around 30.  That means you have to start off around 10 to get to thirty, because every time you adjust your price upward, they adjust theirs downward.

The Night market.

Im a big fan of the meat skewers and chinese pizza which come hot off the fire at the night market.  The chinese pizza, which is a bread that is cooked on a large flat iron surface that is stuffed with meat.  Is not a bun, definately more like a stuffed flatbread.  The spices they used were very flavorful and different depending on the different stuffing.  The beef was the best, followed by lamb.  Jane ordered some crazy soup that had plenty of heat in it as well.

Glorious MEAT!

Jane prefers the mystery soup.

Speaking of pizza, the Pizza Huts over here are a completely bizarre experience.  A person greets you at the door, and takes you to a seat like its some high class place.  At one location, and there are many locations… there was a waiting line to get in!  I guess its better than the KFCs that are around every corner or the Mc Donalds that are every couple blocks.  It is seriously strange about the KFCs, they are everywhere.  We have seen them from a remote town such as Bergville(in South Africa) to as soon as you get off the train in Xi’an… they even serve rice and tea!  And No, I haven’t eatten there yet.

Uh.... What?