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Xi'an and The Terracotta Warriors

Survival in 42 C at the second most visited site in China

sunny 42 °C

We have begun to think that the USA and China have a great deal in common: they both think that they invented everything (to be fair, the Chinese kind of did); they both have populations that put their individual wants before anyone else; they both interfere with other countries where they really shouldn't; they both think they are the best thing since sliced steamed-bun; their people are both puddle-deep when it comes to their focus on having 'stuff' - designer clothes, luxury cars, fancy holidays etc, as success is about what you own; and they both have a serious penchant for peanuts. Further, they both have truly shit taste when it comes to interior decorating. For the USA we can just use Trump as an example, yet the average American also likes to fill their home with oversized, square furniture and baskets of dried flowers. In China, Christmas decorations appear to be popular year-round, and we have seen marvellous life-sized white porcelain half-horses (front half) with lamps on their heads, the lampshade perched at a jaunty angle. Not even an Italian immigrant with a plastic covering on the lounge suite can top that!

We are currently enjoying Xi'an, an ancient city on the banks of the Yellow River. This is the site that historians say was the cradle of Eastern Civilisation, just as Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) was to the West. The Silk Road started here and ran through the 'Stans to the West over 2000 years ago. You can detect the influence of Arabic culture in the shape of pottery and the clothing, or maybe the influence originated in China? This is the site of the Terracotta Warriors, and they are utterly and truly spectacular. They were discovered by a farmer, who during a drought in the 1970's, decided to dig a well. Three metres down he came across what he thought was a real human head.

The warriors were built by an Emperor during the Tang Dynasty, approx 200 BC. Each of the 6000+ pieces was modelled on a real, individual soldier, so no two are alike. If you are so inclined, you can have a life-size warrior made in your image, and shipped to a country of your desire. Christmas solved! They were originally painted in realistic colours, but have faded since being on display. It is likely that the currently excavated area is less than 1/4 of the site, as the Emperor himself is entombed in the middle, about 1.2 km away, however they are not going to excavate any further until they know how to properly preserve them. It took 700,000 people 40 years to complete, yet just one marauding new dynasty to enter the site and smash almost everything to tiny pieces. There were Taliban-type morons here too and well before anyone else that I can think of. Yet another thing the Chinese invented. Archaeologists have a full time job putting all the King's men back together again.

I am pleased to report that the carpets in our hotel, although groadier than anything we have at home, are much improved. The breakfast buffet is also quite edible, and we are careful to follow the instruction to "Cherish the food away from the waste". It is however pretty damn hot here, forecast to be 42C tomorrow. It is slightly off-putting to see soft dumplings of Chinese men remove their shirts in the restaurant. (Speaking of dumpling men, Tony and I are always amused when someone offers to help with our bags, as they struggle with the weight - mine is 14kg and Tony's is 17.5!).

There are cool markets here in the Muslim Quarter with really good street food and heaps of knock-off tourist rubbish to take home. Curiously, one of the common items is a glass Eiffel Tower filled with sweets!? We've attached a few photos of the stalls, but nothing can capture the tooting of moped horns, the shouting of the vendors, the pungency of strange spices or the rushing sound of superhot fire as the woks are lifted to flip their contents. The crowds are a strange mix of tattooed, scantily-clad locals, goggle-eyed tourists, head to toe covered Muslims and ancient fu man chu types on bicycles. We are unable to identify almost half of the produce for sale. We have been in Xi'an for three days, and spent hours every day in this endlessly changing mayhem. Wonderful!

43C as we leave for Tibet. Serious security at the airport - everyone wants to see our entry papers as apparently they are quite hard to get (entering from China). Next stop, the Roof of the World!

T-shirt(s) of the day: Happy Fairywhale; Sharkasm Bites, C'est Ma Vie and Prosche

Posted by 2kiwisontour 02:01 Archived in China Tagged xi'an terracotta_warriors Comments (0)

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