Day Five – The Terracotta Army
Our fun filled day began at our posh hotel in Xi’an with a 7am breakfast to fuel us for our journey. Once everyone was packed and ready, we got onto the coach and Jessica began explaining what was in store for us. Ed Note: Mrs Cheesman was on the case this morning – going for the full Chinese breakfast experience of spicy noodles and bamboo shoots!
Firstly, we headed to the factory where replica Terracotta Soldiers were being created. A pre-made mould of a soldier was filled with the same clay used to make the real warriors. Our factory guide said they took around 5-6 weeks to make and he also taught us how to distinguish between the different ranks of the army. The models ranged from miniature to life sized versions; most of us opted to buy sets of smaller figures which were better value.
Then it was finally time to visit the real Terracotta Army. We were very excited! Our 45 minute journey was filled with anticipation. Jessica gave us a brief explanation and we learned more about the history of the army. It was a hot day and the walk to the ticket office was long so people were getting tired, therefore as we made our way towards the site, Mr. Turner made a new rule; anyone who moaned had to put 10 Yuan into the “Moan Jar”. Not long after the rule was in place Miss Darby was collecting the passports and only counted 27 instead of 28. Mr. Price was annoyed that one person hadn’t followed a simple instruction and began moaning at us. We were quick to jump onto the fact that he had broken the rule and after finding out the number of passports had just been miscounted, all of us insisted that he be the first to pay up. Ed Note: There were only 27 because Mr. Price found his passport in his pocket. He tried to offer to count them so he could sneak it into the pile but Miss Darby was on a roll so he got found out instead!
As we walked into pit one we were astounded at the scale of the army. The building was jam packed with people who had come to see the world famous soldiers. We were eager to see it for ourselves, and once we managed to get to the front we began taking photos. For the next hour we had free time to explore. The soldiers were arranged in rows and the middle section was still being repaired and excavated. It was breathtaking.
We re-grouped and followed Jessica to an exhibition where chariots and some weapons were displayed. After a quick look around we then went to pit two, a slightly smaller pit that still had areas buried by the fallen ancient roof. Five different ranks of soldiers were in glass cases so we could get a closer look at the detail of them. It was unbelievable to think that they had all been made by hand thousands of years ago. When they were first created they had been painted in vibrant colours however, over time it had faded. We saw one of the soldiers still had the remains of red paint. Ed Note: The soldiers in the glass caskets were fantastic to see as you were able to get so much closer than in Pit 1 so you can see details like their hair and the tread on their shoes.
Finally we went to pit three, which was the head-quarters for the generals. Soldiers were facing each other and acted like security guards. There was also a sacrificial section where animals were killed as an offering to the gods of the time. Overall, we found out a lot about the Terracotta soldiers and it was an amazing experience that will never forget!
Jessica then took us to lunch which was a fusion of buffet and al-a-carte Chinese food. There were two chefs who were preparing noodles by stretching and cutting them really fast. It was cool to watch. Tonight we boarded our second overnight train to Shanghai. Although we were excited, we did have to say our goodbyes to our amazing tour guide Jessica. As with Gary, we waved and chanted her name from the windows.
Goodbye Xi’an, Shanghai here we come…
Amareece, Jenna and Amy
Ed Note: The extra money came in handy today in order to buy some souvenirs at the factory. We are pleased to say that everyone purchased a miniature warrior of some sort. Xi’an station was a bustling hub. There was tight security and a few lost their deodorant as the canisters were too big! Xi’an has been wonderful we will all miss this place and it will hold many memories. We head to Shanghai for the final leg of the journey. As staff we are sat here amazed at how fast the trip has gone and how well ‘our little community’ has developed over the week. Tonight is a long journey but it is wonderful to see them all playing cards, chatting and just enjoying being in each other’s company. In the words of the children it really is ‘ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, hao!’