We hired a taxi through the hotel for a fixed rate, and the driver took us out to see the Terracotta Warriors.
When we parked, an English-speaking guide met us, and showed us around the place. Really incredible. The amount of work that went into the place, both in the initial construction and in the recovery/restoration, is amazing. Every warrior is different, and was made in separate pieces — heads had to be fired separately from the bodies, so that there’d be room for the hot air to escape. The horses were made in several different pieces, and had holes in their sides for air to escape, as well.
Apparently so far they’ve only found one warrior that was intact. All of the others have had to undergo reconstructive surgery (thus the slings in some of the pictures) before being put back into position.
The original construction had wood beams to cover it up, but over time they decomposed and everything caved in. Looking at some of the not-yet-reconstructed areas, it looks like a battle zone.
They number the different pieces to keep track of them.
Since we’d gotten an early start, we were back in town before lunch time. M & I walked around, looking for a good spot. We walked through some interesting (and some stinky) streets, and through a small market, where I saw a styrofoam box on the back of a scooter, filled with frogs. No time to take a photo, though.
Eventually, we stopped in at a little place that caught my eye. It was packed, inside, and filled with cigarette smoke, but the pictures on the wall were of dumplings. The guy working there didn’t really speak English, and the menu was only in Chinese, but my “can you suggest a popular dish that I should try?” phrase card, combined with M’s pointing at some nearby dumplings did the trick.
After lunch, I decided to explore Xi’an a bit more, while M went back to the hotel. I passed a crowd of men, who I believe were playing Mahjong (I didn’t take a picture when I was close).
Then, I decided to check out the city wall. We’d driven through it a couple of times, going to & from the hotel. The air was hazy, but it made for a pretty sunset.
When I was ready to come down (and maybe even catch a taxi back to the hotel, since I was pretty tired), I made the unfortunate discovery that I was nowhere near an exit. Sure, there were stairs down fairly frequently, but none of them were open to the public. Big doors (closed) at the bottom. And apparently I was just about exactly between the nearest ones, so either way, I was going to have to walk a lot farther. I opted to keep going (cover new ground), rather than to double back. I regretted not renting a bicycle like most people did.
When the lights came on, I realized I’d better pick up the pace in order to get to the exit before dark. By the time I saw an electric cart coming by (presumably to pick people up, though it’s not clear if there’d be a fee), I was finally close enough to the exit that I just kept going.Finally down stairs I was allowed to use, the exit dumped us out in the middle of a bus parking lot. Which was in the middle of a big roundabout. At rush hour. And no locals to shadow across the street. Yikes! I waited until most of the lanes were jammed up, and wove my way through the cars. I was about halfway across the street, when cars from another direction came flying toward me. In China, cars speed up when they see pedestrians (or so it seems — they certainly don’t make any effort to avoid peds), so I ran across the rest of the street. I won’t print what I was saying to myself at that time.
Back to the hotel, I was exhausted, and really didn’t want to walk far. We asked the concierge for some suggestions, expecting to hear about the hotel’s restaurants, or some fancy place they got kickbacks from, but his first suggestion was a night market just a few blocks away. Ordinarily, that would’ve been perfect, but I wanted to be able to sit, so we went with another of his suggestions (we think – not sure if the place we wound up is the one he meant, but it was in the vicinity). They had ‘set’ dinners that came with a bunch of things. M had frog legs. I had beef, which was good, but which came with hot lettuce. Better with sauce, but still not my thing.