We arrived into Xi’an on a flight from Nanjing and are immediately struck by the fact we can see the sun. It is hot and dry as opposed to hot and humid and the sky’s here are relatively clear for a city of some four and a half million. (some estimate closer to eight). Getting from the airport to the hotel is also a lot more expensive than anywhere else we have been in China. Xi’an is a big tourist town, home to the famous army of terracotta warriors and like all tourist towns they know how to hose you.
The emporer Qin Shi Huang who was the first to unify China must have been scared shitless of heading off to his maker or else he thought he was still going to be in charge in the afterlife. He was bringing with him 8,000 soldiers and horses for the ride.
This is quite a compact chinese city relatively speaking, plenty of choice in how you can get around, decent metro, and the re-appearance of a sort of tuktuk, the motorised three wheeler of choice in the far east. We havn’t seen these for a while. Slightly different than those you see in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand, these chinese ones are more like a motorbike with a big tea chest strapped on to the back. Scarier, hairier ride’s I havn’t been on but what the hell, the kid’s love them.
We are in Xi’an to see the famous terracotta warriors and as usual we are watching the pennies so we decide not to take the tourist option of a guided tour. We make our own way using public transport. This involves going to the main train station and taking a green air con bus for a very small sum to the warrior site. This is when the organisational skills of our hosts really kicks in. The place is massive. When you get your entry tickets you have the choice of walking the one and a half kilometres to the site or else pay to get a ticket to on a 12 seater golf buggy. It’s hot, we opt for the golf buggy. You queue up for a couple of minutes and hop on, there are a continuous stream of them to take people to the site. Once searched you get into the site and your day really starts. There are three massive halls built over the archaelogical digs. The buildings are serious architectural statements in themselves and the way the archaeology is displayed is stunning, the lighting, the capacity to handle the vast hordes of people is like disneyland for adults.
We spend the whole day there which is unusual for us, we normally go to a site, see it and split as soon as possible, for the kids sake, but not here, even they seem to get a sence of the place and hold off on the ‘I’m bored for much longer than usual.
At the end of the day we are completely knackered and head off to get our bus. So we look for the golf buggy back, there is none back. You have to walk back to the parking lot down a really long street lined with small shops trying to sell you terracotta warriors and I’ve seen the terracotta warriors t-shirts. As usual they don’t seem to harrass us too much with the hard sell. I think when they see me carrying Elka and Lisa dragging Axel behind her they reckon they aren’t going to get too much out of us.
We get back to the bus, there is one waiting there to board immediately and we are back on the road within minutes. Lisa and Elka sleep on the way back. Tired but satisfied we are back in the hotel pool within an hour.