Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Terracotta Warriors Museum

Today was a big day. I survived my first solo road/bus trip in China. It was not difficult by any means and I did enough research to ensure that I did not jump on the wrong bus only to find myself in North Korea. If there is an easier "touristy" road trip in China let me know as I would be hard pressed to believe you. Regardless, tops on my list of to-do's in Xi'an was a visit to the Terracotta Warriors Museum. Mission accomplished.

Full disclosure. I had planned on taking the 4 hour bus trip to Hukou Falls on the Yellow River today however the bus left at 8:00 am from Fengzhicheng station which is the last stop east on Subway line 1. Sunday night I did reconnaissance after work. I timed the walk to my subways stop, Tonghuaman, and then how long it took to get to Fengzhichen which was 4 stops. Then the walk from the subway through the Mall and downstairs to the bus station ticket off. Total time 31 minutes. Odd thing to do I know but it works for me but if I have time, or better yet, when I make time to do recon I usually do it. I was set. I knew how long to get to the bus station. One of the girls at work, Ciscola, typed out useful phrases I might need in Chinese Characters and English and printed the sheet. I packed water and food. I charged my camera battery, checked the weather report, and went to bed at a decent hour excited about what I was about to undertake. I woke up at 8:15, shit!

I will take all the help I can get
Ticket agent wrote the time and price down for me.

There was no way I was going to sit around with the sun shinning and the sky blue so I hit up my backup plan. The Terracotta warriors. I knew where to go to get the bus, or choice of buses as I had done recon on this about a month ago while walking around one day. Travelers beware. The Terracotta Warriors and buses leaving from the East Train Station is a combination that can ripe for touts and tourist rip offs. Use your head! Anyways a few Trip Advisor postings talk about catching the tourist bus and mention that it is "inside the wall". This is wrong when in fact it is "outside the wall in front of the train station.

There are a few options. The first is the 5/306 bus. There are easy signs so it is easy but there are other buses that use the number 306. Do not get on these buses. Make sure there is the number 5 in the window. The 5 represents "tourist" and the ones without are not recommended. I do not know why but I did not see any of them at the drop of spot when we got there. The buses are cued up, there were 4 when I was there, and they leave every 10 minutes. You just get on and pay when you leave. It costs 7 Yuan. Listen for the number 7, chi (chee). The other option are the Green buses that have "Terracotta Museum and Xi'an East Train Station" written on the side. These are fine, are a bit nice and cost 9 Yuan. Listen for Jiu (je - o). These buses take just a bit longer as they stop along the way to pick up other passengers but nothing serious. Sit back and relax, you are safely aboard.

There was one stop along the way at Lishan in Linton about 5 km from The Terracotta Warriors. I had hear about Mount Li (shan is Chinese for Mountain, so Lishan) but never took the time to read about it. As it goes, when you start something you can fortunately discover something by accident and today it was Lishan. I have to admit, when I saw the cable car, the monuments, fountains and people getting off the buss I was bouncing around in my seat "whats this?, what's that?". Spotting the Lishan sign I calmed down. I don't think anyone saw me acting like an excited tourist.

We were dropped off in the bus parking lot and as I have experienced all over the world in "touristy" situation like this, prepare to be bombarded. I stepped off the bus and ...."incommminnng!!" "Sir do you need an English guide?", "it is very hot, need water"?, "where you from, I am a great guide"?. They are just trying to make a buck. One guy had the best line and I have him 5 Yuan ($1) for making me laugh.
Guide : Hey where you from?
Me: (internally) I wonder where I can find a beer?
Guide : You want pretty girl?
Me: Hey, What, pretty girl
Guide: Ha Ha you do hear me. No girl. I am guide. You want guide?
We talked for about 3 or 4 minutes about our common knowledge of tourists in general. His English as as bad as my Chinese but we managed and he put a spring in my step. So off I went, past the guides, trinket sellers, food vendors, and bored as shit park employees to buy my admission ticket. I am off to see the Terracotta Warriors!

Entrance to Terracotta Warriors Exhibit. I am getting man boobs. I have to lay off the noodles!
The ticket is 150 Yuan, about C $30. I was excited but I did not have my expectations extremely high. I was told it was going to be boring by a few people but I never take that into account. Most write ups did say to temper your enthusiasm as it is a museum with on going excavations. I was in the right frame of mind so in I went. 

There are 3 different viewing pits which is why we are here. However the parkland is massive so take it slow. Enjoy the walk through the gardens and paths you will get there. The place was spotless and no street vendors were in sight. The crappy tourist junk was at every exit, as it goes, from all the buildings. There is also a historical museum which displayed the history of the discovery and the process of excavation until today. It was discovered fairly recently in 1974 buy 3 farmers drilling for water. Last week I read there was a major discovery in Egypt and work is always be halted in London for new discoveries there. Who knows what history is buried beneath us.

This was everything that I had hoped. I should say I did really know what to expect but I expected what I experienced if that makes any sense. They they were. The soldiers and horses having been buried for over 2000 years. So many were painstakingly preserved and spectacular. Others lay in shards and ruins ready to be humpty dumptied back together again. Some were missing arms, legs and heads and still others were still half buried in the clay.

The soldiers standing in neat rows seemed to come to life if you looked at them long enough with the horses leading the charge. I spent hours wandering around all three pits but the main area, Pit 1 is where it was at. I hung around here for the better part of 2 hours just taking photos, watching people "doing the Terracotta Warriors" and enjoying themselves. I oddly started to try and reflect on the times but that was useless. So I just hung out and enjoyed being here.

Once back outside with real people again I realized it was time to go as for some reason the crowds were massing. I took a long leisurely walk back to the bus area where I immediately caught the Green Bus back to Xi'an. The trip was a great short solo tour that will give me the confidence to spread my Chinese wings and explore more places more often. It also re-affirmed that believe I have since December of 2012. I was standing on a Glacier on a warm sunny day overlooking a Iceberg laden bay, shirtless and soaking up the sun in Antarctica. It was there that I felt a real peace I had never know before. It was also then that I absolutely knew that I could travel anywhere and that is what I was going to do. I had found direction and as I have said in the past. I looked at the horizon, slammed my foot on the gas, cranked up the tunes and broke off the rear view mirror. Today was another affirmation that I know I am doing what is right for me.

I can only imagine how I will feel when I see Mt. Everest, The Taj Mahal, Angor Wat, Dive with Sharks in South Africa, The Great Wall, or any of the long list of impossibles that I am going to make possible.

Deaths Coming, Life's Foreplay

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