Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Terracotta Warriors and the Han Yangling museum

October 25th, last day before Rod has to work. We had hired a car and driver for the day to take us to the Terracotta Warriors and the Han Yang Ling museum. We planned to get an early start, meeting the driver at 7am and getting to the Terracotta Warriors at opening time, ahead of the tour monkeys.

At 6:10am Rod enjoyed a cold shower. It eventually turned out the hot water on demand device requires several minutes to warm up. At 6:40am it was discovered the new pots from the supermarket had handles in the box photo but not so much on the actual pots. At 7:05am we met the driver and headed out for the warriors. At 7:30am we hit a stretch with a lot of large trucks, which seemed to intimidate the driver. He tended to hang well back of them and then when an opportunity presented itself blow past them. At 7:45am traffic mysteriously stopped. Our driver drover up the shoulder to get around, others followed, and we wound up well and truly jammed in. The driver slid out without taking off his seatbelt and walked up to investigate. After a somewhat confused investigation we figured out that he sat on top of the waist strap, with only the chest strap actually on. At 8:00am a communal effort by non-truck vehicles resulted in a complex car-tetris game and a bunch of us started backing up along the shoulder to escape the jam. Unfortunately traffic then seems to move forward again so we flew up the shoulder only to get re-jammed at 8:02am. At about 8:30am the driver mentioned there is a turnoff in 2km. At current rate of rolling forward 10 meters every five minutes then stopping this sounds like a long way. At 9:42am we finally advance enough to see a sign that says 2km to Lintong. Lintong is the same town our train into Xi'an miraculously stopped at. At 10:10 all lanes start moving again. There is no apparent reason for the stoppage. We reach the Terracotta Warriors around 11:30am, walk through an enormous complex outside the actual exhibit, stop for breakfast, and finally get tickets and enter the exhibit. It is awesome.

We walk into what we think is pit 3, trying to visit the pits from smallest (3) to largest (1). After some confusion we determine that this isn't even a pit, it is the "exhibition hall". It has some really cool stuff.

We correct course and head for the actual pit 1. Pit 1 has a few warriors and horses but the highlight is some very detailed high-ranking officer statues. Unfortunately these are hard to photograph between idiots with flash and dim lights. Pit 2 is pretty cool too; it has a big open exhibit with the pit structure more exposed.

Pit 1 is amazing. It's like an aircraft hanger, full of warriors.


Very happy with our terracotta experience, we head for the Han Yang Ling museum. Along the way we pickup a bottle of pomegranate wine on a whim. It is made in Lintong. It is much less crowded and very pleasant. It is the best presented exhibit we've seen so far. There are a bunch of little statues in excavated parts with glass walkways over them.

There is also a rather boring looking South Tower. On closer investigation this proves to be a building around a building - inside it is a Han dynasty watchtower. It would look FAR cooler if the building containing it was a bit more spacious but unfortunately it is quite a close wrapper. Even so it is quite cool

On returning to the apartment we decide to take a stroll around where we live to try to find a rumored Starbucks and hopefully some local restaurants. We find a Starbucks, a Subway, 5 tea shops, 6 beauty parlors, and only one restaurant, which is extremely expensive looking. We also cross a 10 lane uncontrolled intersection and pass by a street of street vendors selling food that would be far more appealing if the area didn't smell like ... well, basically like fried poo. The supermarket turns out to be quite nearby. We head back to the apartment and try the Lintong pomegranate wine. It is HORRIBLE. Basically like apple cider vinegar and nothing like wine. Nothing from Lintong is good - every time we go near it we get stuck and their wine blows too!! It is close to time for Chris to fly home so we got through an emergency Chinese lesson. Not much sticks but it is good fun. For some reason Frommers China feels the word "wharf" is a crucial basic term.

Both the Terracotta Warriors and the Han Yan Ling museum were awesome so we crash quite happy with the day.

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