Xi’an, the Terracotta Army – day 2
Our first day was ‘free day’ as we traveled alone on bike without any restrictions to discover Xi’an city. During the second day, we became the classic foreigner tourist who discovers China and goes to any tourist traps… Our hostel suggested us an “all inclusive” Terracotta Army Tour for 220 RMB / pers. I usually avoid this well-planned tour but we have planned to stay only 2 days in Xi’an before coming back to Beijing so we accepted their offer.
The first stop of the tour was already a tourist trap. Even before reaching the Terracotta Army site, our minibus stopped us to the Terracotta soldiers’ factory. We had the ‘opportunity’ to meet all our tourist friends who also had the same stop on their tours. Someone explained us during few minutes the manufacturing process then he showed us quickly the souvenir store. You can find as expected some Terracotta warriors in different sizes but we also discovered that you can buy some traditional carpets or furniture…
We reduced our time in this shop and had a quick lunch in a tourist restaurant (again… :() before arriving to the site entrance. We were surprised by the city planning and nice organization: some souvenirs stores, some snacks or fruit sellers… It is usually a complete mess in front of the tourist sites. We understood how this site, one of the most visited in China, gains in importance for their economy.
The Terracotta Army site contains 3 main halls:
- Hall 1 is the most impressive one; you enter in a giant warehouse which can contain several planes. More than thousand soldiers are in order of battle (8000 have been initially built). Each soldier has unique posture, specific face and different army grade. It is hard to explain the feeling when you enter in the hall so have a look on the pictures below.
- Hall 2 is still under exploration. It contains several kinds of soldiers who are not represented in Hall 1: archers, horsemen or infantry soldiers. You can see them closely on one side of the hall with 4 statues in showcases.
- Hall 3 is the smallest one. It seems that it was a representation of Army headquarters before a battle following initial explorer’ discoveries.
Traveler tip: You should start with Hall 2 or 3 and then finish with Hall 1. As I started with Hall 1, I found less interest on the 2 others.
We had free time during 1h30 after our guided tour. We visited UNESCO museum, watched the historical movie which explains the Army story and go back to Hall 1 to enjoy the sightseeing.
We went back to our hostel to take quick shower before going to the Airport. Travel in China is always complicated as you may know if you read this blog or travel in this country. Our plane (1h50 flight) was delayed for 3 hours due to some bad weather conditions in Beijing. We landed at 3:00am instead of midnight and we waited one more hour in the Taxi queue. I was in bed at 4:30am – hard to wake up on Monday morning to go to work but the weekend was unforgettable.
More pictures from our week-end in Xi’an are available on Flickr.