DATE:27 SEPTEMBER 2017
THE TERRACOTTA ARMY
Another rainy morning greeted us. Today’s itinerary is a visit to the Terracotta Army in the outskirts of Xi’an, about 30 km away. First, we walked in the drizzle to the nearest metro or underground train station, Beidajie. From here we went on the metro to Beikezhan. It was still raining when we exited the station via the south exit. We had problems finding the bus to take us to the Terracotta Army Complex in Lintong district. So, Nik hailed a taxi. I thought the taxi ride ought to be shorter than the 1 hour bus ride. But, our taxi took almost just as long.
The Terracotta Army Complex is located in a big park. A buggy took us to the entrance of Pit 1. On a fine day, Nik and I would have opted for a stroll through the park instead of hopping on the buggy.
Despite the rain, there were many people queueing at the entrance to the building housing Pit 1. This is the largest and most impressive, where about 2,000 terracotta warriors are displayed.It’s a battalion of clay figures, the Terracotta Army, they stood still a few metres below our viewing area. Most of the figures are in good condition, though some have missing parts. The details one each figure is incredible-the shoe laces, the stud-like stuff on the suit of armour. Each face is different and body size varies, but they are of similar height. Nik and I toured the whole perimeter of the pit. Restoration work is still ongoing here.
We had cofee break at a nearby cafe. The rain has not stopped. Nik and I walked to Pit 2 (at a different building), my shoes, socks and feet now all soaking wet. Pit 2 is smaller & L-shaped. Here we spotted a few figures in kneeling position. Few are in good shape, many were broken into pieces. Between the pit and the wall there are exhibits on display. On the floor above there are some more exhibits which we did not visit.
These pits are actually part of the mausoleum for Emperor Qin (221-207 BC). The army of life-size terracotta soldiers, archers, horses and chariots were built and stationed in military formation near the emperor’s tomb in order to protect him in the afterlife. During excavation of the pits containing the Terracotta Warriors, archaeologists have found some 40,000 bronze weapons, including battle axes, crossbows, arrowheads and spears. Even after more than 2,000 years, these weapons remained extremely well preserved, thanks to the protective chrome plating, a seemingly modern technique that reveals the sophistication of ancient Chinese metallurgy.
At the Exhibition Hall, we walked through the displays on the first level which educates the public on the importance and challenges of polychrome restoration and conservation. Here, we had the chance to pose next to a replica of the Terracotta Army. We skipped other floors of the Exhibition Hall and gave Pit 3, the smallest pit a miss, too. It was getting very uncomfortable, in fact almost unbearable walking around with wet feet, soggy socks and squelching shoes.
It was a long walk to through the park to the exit gate. There are many shops here, but some were closed. We caught bus no 306 to the city centre and the ride took an hour.
From the bus terminal we hopped onto another bus to go the Muslim Street area where we had a late lunch. By this the time we finished our meal, my feet had been soaked for more than 6 hours. I felt like taking off my shoes and go barefoot. Fortunately, we found a stall selling flip-flops, bought a pair and put them on straight away. The rain has not stopped, so we decided to return to the hotel instead of visiting the Drum Tower.
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