In the Spring of 1991, my childhood friend, Cheryl met me in Hong Kong, where she spent the last of my three week business trip with me, and from there, we began our China adventure to the cities of Shanghai, Beijing and the ancient capital, Xian. I kept a very detailed journal from start to finish of my awesome journey, nearly twenty-five years ago, and decided this would make a great travel series for Travelin' Cousins. Over the course of the next several months, I will post chronological segments of my journal on my respective Throwback Thursdays. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed re-living my trip! - Elisa
Breakfast was not one of the better ones today. In general, the hotel is not at the level as our other accommodations in Shanghai and Beijing.
We left at 9:00AM today to meet our group and Xi'an Tour Guide, Lee. While Lee is very nice, he is not as good as Harry, our Beijing tour guide. For one thing, he does not have as much knowledge and facts and he clearly does not have as much control of the group and keeping things on schedule. Well, let me clarify that with the fact, that he does not have the same control of me and Cheryl, as we cannot help being constantly late due to shopping and lallygagging.
There are 47 universities in Xi'an and 33 of these are technical schools.
The First Emperor built Xi'an as the capital, although the name has changed with each dynasty. In 640 AD, Xi'an had 1 million people and was the largest city in the world. After discovering the First Emperor's tomb (and the Terra Cotta soldiers), this sight has become the biggest tourist attraction in Xi'an.
The shopping never ends, of course. In the gift shop I bought a wood jade, hand carved tea set. We made our way to a silk exhibition center and had some tea. The original plan was for us to visit a terra cotta factory, but we all decided to go to the Jade Factory and the Embroidery factory instead. - we never made it to the Jade factory, by the way.
There was a beautiful man-made lake inside with a gorgeous backdrop of mountains and trees. A little bit of history - this is also the location where Chang Kai Shek spent some time in 1936 when meeting with his two generals to convince them to fight the communists. We were able to visit his personal quarters, which were very, very plain and simple. There was a bedroom where he stayed, a secretary's room, a meeting room and a guard room. They were all in very close proximately to one another.
It is within the mountains of this area, where Chang Kai Shek was eventually captured. This site is famous for the Hot Springs, whose temperatures get as high as 104 degrees at one section. What we saw of the Hot Springs, during our visit was dried out.
Following our visit, we had a scheduled lunch across the street. It was a buffet lunch - very simple - cucumbers, an artichoke salad, bread, rice and spice cabbage. Dessert was sweet cake and strawberries.
The street market went all the way down the road lining it with booths filled with goods for sale on one side and food vendors on the opposite side. There were a number of noodle stations, and we were very intrigued watching the vendors make the noodles right there at their cart!
Now, one thing Cheryl and I could not comprehend on this entire trip was the lack of order to the way people drove on the roads. There was no order. Bikes, pedestrians and horse and buggies all converged together and it was terribly unsafe.
The Terra Cotta Soldiers and the 1st Emperor's tomb were so unbelievable! They didn't allow pictures inside, so that is why I am unable to share any with you. Basically, there were 3 excavated sections simply numbered, 1, 2 and 3. The Emperor's tomb was located in Section 1. This area was still being excavated even though it was discovered by local framers digging a well in 1974.
Originally, the tomb had been covered by wooded sheets, but since this tomb dates back well over 2000 years, the wood decayed and the earth filled in. As a result, so many of the soldiers and horses were damaged. Since human sacrifice had been outlawed, the terra cotta soldiers and horse drawn chariots were created to replicate the Emperor's army, so it could be buried with him at his death. The terra cotta horses originally had wooden chariots attached, but they too, had decayed.
All of the soldiers and the horses were originally painted, and it is believed that the colors were vibrant. Each soldier was unique in their facial expressions, and the pose and positions of the horses were all different as well.
Section #2 was closed for excavation so we were not allowed in this area. However, Section #3 was quite interesting as it held the Terra Cotta generals of the Emperor. The museum was opened in 1979, but as of our visit in 1991, there was still a great deal of restoration that needed to be done.
I'm sure today, almost 25 years later, this historic site probably bears very little resemblance to how it looked when Cheryl and I visited and I am confident the restoration is completed.
Don't forget to check in for Part 13 in two weeks!