An Army On My Deathbed
To be honest, the main reason I ended up choosing Xian was to visit the Terracotta Army and climb Mount Huangshan, one of China’s holiest mountains. However, this trip was meant to be completed within three days, so I had to forgo the ascent. Next time. If you’re heading to Xian you’re probably off to see the army anyway.
The actual terracotta Army dig site isn’t in the city proper – take the buses right outside Xian train station (Xian huoche zhan). Travel time is a 80 minutes. Warning – if you’re heading to the Terracotta army, make sure you get off at the last stop (marked by a market and lots of souvenir shops). Additional warning – the ticket office is a good kilometer’s walk from the actual exhibition area. Don’t worry, there are plenty of shops to distract you along the way.
The army was constructed on the belief that the emperor needed protection after his death. From the looks of it, Emperor Qin made a lot of enemies to warrant that many bodyguards. A lot of enemies. There are archers, footmen, chariot drivers, infantry officers…sure tyrants and dictators back in the day were pretty bad ass, but Mr Q really pissed off a lot of people. I wonder if they have a diplomatic corps buried somewhere there as well…
Each warrior is uniquely detailed, so it is impressive how much time was spent in creating this army. And when you consider that there are three viewing pits, the largest at the size of an aircraft hangar, you wonder how much time was actually needed to do this. But then again, these are the same people who did the Great Wall, so in perspective, creating the army was considered as a ‘hobby’. Excavation is still ongoing in various parts of the complex, so it is possible that in the future more viewing pits will be constructed and opened.
For a bit of fun, there’s a facility you can use to get a Terracotta Warrior in your own likeness. I knew this yoohoo looked a bit too familiar…
All in all a good day – there’s not a lot to do at the Terracotta Army, look at several holes in the ground, pick up a few souvenirs, that’s it. Whole deal should take you 4 hours tops, including the travel time, so there’s enough room to mish-mash the things you want to do in your Xian itinerary (see previous posts!).