Day 8 – Monday 17th June – Zhengzhou to Xi’an
Today, the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xi’an – underground for 2400 years.
But first, a 2 1/2 hour bullet train ride, 600 km, from Zhengzhou to Xi’an. Xi’an is west of Zhenzhou, so we’re really in western China now.
It’s a 5am rise, breakfast at 6, bus to the trains station at 6.30 and then 9am train. Apparently the security at Zhengzhou is pretty fierce so we have to prepare to lose any fluids or aerosols over 120ml’s , it ends up being pretty tame and we get the water through.
We have an issue with the Navigator trying to pay double with the tips, it’s $12/ day / person to cover driver and the guide, she doesn’t believe me or the people around us and pays $50 extra which when she realises the error of her ways she has to get the money back, she was rrrrrrrrrr wrong……. but struggles with that concept.
Sean, our guide is only onto his second tour group but he is a very nice guy and very caring and protective of the group but a little green, some time with John our Shanghai man would be good for him. He just needs to relax a little.
There is a scooter crash with a taxi, not sure who’s fault as we try to enter the massive Zhengzhou train station, police, arms waving, bits of scooter and car but no dead bodies so all is ok.
An issue at security sees The Seamstress’s prescription sunglasses crunched by the security machine and they lose a wing, looks like travel insurance or an optical repair in Beijing.
Our train is off at 7.52, into Xi’an at 10.24, we pass spectacular white ( I guess limestone) mountains, the usual Chinese farms all getting a little larger as we get into dryer country. More fields of millet and other cereal crops, I’m assuming barley but it still looks pretty flat and productive land.
We see the Yellow River on the right hand side of the train, a big river and I’m colour blind so can’t tell if it’s yellow or what I see is a muddy brown.
I’m writing this the next day on the train – I’ll explain why later on.
We arrive in Xi’an right on time, of sure what to expect so far away from the city names we know of Beijing and Shanghai, but Xi’an turns out to be a surprise.
Our Xi’an man meets us, his name is Michael – we call him “Mick”, a solid bull of a man, and a booming voice. We grow to really like Mick, he’s funny, efficient, knows his city and lets us inside his life and personal family story. He lives with his wife and 9 year old daughter, he is an only child (China’s 1 baby policy) so he also has his parents – retired in their 70’s and his Grandfather and they have 2 apartments on the same level. The grandfather spent 7 years in detention during the Cultural Revolution because he had a former association with a rival political organisation to the Communist Party. His daughter lives under constant pressure to perform because they invest all their money in her future because it’s harder for girls in the job area.
As we leave the Xi’an train station we find out how fearsome he is when he takes on the toilet cleaners for not allowing us to use one of the toilets, the police hover on the side and after we move on to the next toilet block and he has another blue with this “toilet manager” we find out they have had a water pipe break and they can’t flush – which is a fair excuse, so he goes to the bus and gets 20litres of water to flush the toilets – compromise reached and we can use an emergency toilet with Trip A Deal water.
Xi’an is one of the oldest cities in China, but it looks modern and has spectacular gardens and streets, very tidy on first impression.
So the story of the Terracotta Warriors, 2400 years ago the Emperor of a now united China was based in Xi’an, the Emperor was preparing for his after life and set up his mausoleum with protection from the Terra cotta warriors, he decides not to use real human sacrifices. When he died he was buried below the field of the clay fired army, and the workers were all killed and the whole area covered up and when the few who knew the location died their secret went with them. A fire and the area caved in and was possibly lost forever. In 1974 some farmers were digging a well looking for water and found some shards of pottery, which were part of one of the kneeling archers, the archeology that followed discovered the magnitude of the discovery and the site is now one of the wonders of the world. The soldiers all have different faces as the workers did their own styles in the face but the bodies of all types are the same ( I think). There are Officers, Generals, cavalry, standing archers, kneeling archers, and a few others. The archaeologists are working non stop and will probably still be working on this in 100 years time, it is immense. They have laser scanners to try and match pieces up.
It’s is truely worth seeing.
We have a very nice lunch for 50 yuan each ($10) and do our exploring with Mick giving us the story as we walk. The crowds are enormous, but so it should be, this site is fantastic and well worth seeing.
We get to our hotel, The Grand Noble Hotel, Xi’an at about 5, exhausted, tired, it’s the best looking hotel so far, and in the middle of the city, but it’s a big city 9 million people so there might be more areas like it. We are right near the Bell Tower, set up to tell locals to time to start work.
Xi’an means Xi = peace and An means Rest. The Japanese didn’t take Xi’an in the 1937-39 war when they invaded China. It’s a walled city with the wall about 600 years old, it’s also the start of the Silk Road. The drive to the hotel shows how pretty this place is, men with birds ( feathered ones!) sit beside the moat in beautiful gardens, Mick says they’d rather listed to the birds than their wives at home.
Mick tells us there are a few things not to mention in Beijing, very important to follow the 4 T’s and don’t mention;
A rest and we’re off walking to the Bell Tower and then to get some food. It’s a vibrant place, The Electrician buys some shoes for a reasonable price, he says his other ones have an eco system of their own now and need a rest.
We split into 2 groups, and both of us end up lost, as we exited the underground pedestrian roundabout at the Bell Tower. A quick data connect and Google MAps gets us back on track. I won’t mention the Navigator’s choice of direction nor her lack of acceptance of my sage advice suggesting things didn’t look right. Twice in one day – she was rrrerrr wrong, whoda thought that could happen!? A pizza at the hotel tonight, too tired and my feet are burning, a headache coming on so I hold off Blog work u til I’m up to it
Cheers from Xi’an – I like this place and could spend some more time here.
Sent from my iPad