Terra Cotta and Secret Rooms in The Wall
We did a lot today, yes we did, but my favorite part was walking through a park with my daughter, watching families and grand-parents go about their daily lives.
We got up bright and early, didn't wake up our roommate, (don't know why not, as we weren't quiet, but he kept a snoring), and waited a long time to get our "Mexican" breakfasts, so long in fact that our tour ended up having to wait for us and another table of people.
9 of us (plus guide and driver) in a van heading out to see the Terra-Cotta Warriors. Our tour-guide was a woman named Zsa-Zsa, "27, Female, and still single". She was great, full of information, excellent english and seemingly enjoying her job. It was great to be there and see the Warriors, especially in Pit One. Pit One has 6000 warriors in it, and 2000 of them are restored enough to be standing up on their feet and all looking in the same direction. You always hear how each of them has a different face, but when you are staring at 2000 of them, staring back at you, you really notice how individual they are, and it makes the whole thing quite intimidating. One thing I learned today is that the Emperor had them built slightly larger than life (by about 15-18%) so that they would be more intimidating in the after-life. He wanted to make sure he was in charge there too. Each one of them has at least some facial hair, even if it is just a creepy little mustache. What happened to that facial hair? I haven't seen very many Chinese men with any. Mine certainly inspires curiosity, lots of staring, asking to have pictures taken with me (no joke, happened twice in Beijing) or people just coming up and touching my earrings.
After the Warriors we went to see the Emperors tomb, but it is really just a tree covered hill and some park-land around it. They haven't started to excavate any of it, seems like the soil is quite poisonous (crazy Emperor being buried with LOTS of mercury - according to what we heard, over a thousand times more mercury in the soil than usual), and there are a lot of pits to work on. Zsa Zsa wasn't sure when it would begin.
Then we shared a lovely lunch with our tour-mates. A young man from England who quit the banking sector to travel (on the road for over a year), a couple of Americans who just spent 5 years in South Africa, and are taking a year to travel before their next jobs (they work for aid agencies), a Basque guy who was pretty quiet and three 20 something young american women who are doing a term of university in China to learn Mandarin.
After Lunch Zsa Zsa tried to convince us all to get dropped off to the East Gates of the old city, and walk back to the hostel at the south gates (about 13km), nobody but Morag and I wanted to, but Zsa Zsa didn't listen, the van stopped at the East Gate and she ordered us out, and was faced with a rebellion. No one would get out, not even us, so they drove us to a little gate halfway along and everyone got out there, but only M & I went up. We had a splendid walk up top, there were all sorts of displays - like giant dioramas - of Chinese culture and history, mostly about the New Year.
We had gone past all the festival displays and were at one of the Archer's houses (there is some building about once a kilometer) and we saw a little sign that said come see the museum. So we went in and there was this big multi-story museum buried right in the centre of the wall. It wasn't very informative, but they had all sorts of stuff they had found when they were fixing the wall up, and they had uncovered some of the first foundations and it was cool to see. We ended up back on the street and crossed under the wall to this park that runs along the moat. It was full of families having their afternoon walks, and lots of old folks exercising and gambling. Big crowds watching chinese chess, and playing this card game with long skinny cards. It took us all the way back to the south gate and the hostel.
Dinner, Dairy Queen, a search for a Pagoda down dark and scary streets, then a beer and now the day is done.