Do you remember Blue Peter? (UK Children’s TV Show) If so, this is where I first saw and learnt about the Terracotta Warriors. This was where I became in awe of the story of these statues, I even worked really hard to enter the competition to win a replica model of one of the warriors but to no avail, in fact I never won a Blue Peter badge and I am still disgruntled about that!
I never knew then whether I would actually make it to China to travel and see this new wonder. So in 1996 when I took my first plane ride to visit California, randomly I found in San Francisco’s China Town a box set of the models for $20 and promptly bought them.
16 years later I am actually in Xi’an and we are going to visit the Terracotta Army, I am very excited. Although it did not come without some drama thanks to the Lonely Planet misquoting the price by a considerable amount and there being no ATM or the ticket office not taking cards to pay, which for one of the most visited sights in China would be an obvious decision to have this facility. But that is another story and one that has 2 very kind Spaniards helping us out with a small loan (we later return in kind to them at their hotel back in Xi’an even though they said not to bother), a fact which has restored my faith a little in humanity.
We again put our traveling ingenuity to task again when we actually bought the tickets; the price had gone up by $10 dollars hence our issue, but we decided to opt for the student ticket to see if we could get away with it, when they asked for ID we were a little stumped, but then Steph in a moment of genius pulled out our respective driving licences and handed them over, the lady looked at them, but we suspect had no idea what they said and gave them back and issued the ticket, Bingo! We ended up saving nearly $25!
The location itself has had a large town built up around it, overspill from Xi’an and when you walk
through the gates there is nothing that offers a suggestion of what you are about to see.
We walk into the first hall, the biggest and we are confronted not by the sea of warriors as I thought but a wall of Chinese tourists just off their bus on their whirlwind tour lets just say it was busy! Nonetheless we waited and got ourselves to the front and we were confronted by a breathtaking and amazing view, thousands of the Terracotta Warriors stood in rows facing us, it was an impressive sight!
We spent some hours going through the 3 halls that had various assortments and findings of the warriors, but were constantly amazed by the size of the hall and the magnitude with which this mausoleum was constructed for the Qing Emperor. It’s the simple fact that no figure is a like that blows your mind; this is effort and intricate details that we do not see in today’s world. And to see how well they have been preserved is also very impressive.
It was a fantastic place to visit, and it is something that you can be amazed with but trying to recant the impact in writing or in photographs just does not do it justice. I for one was very happy to finally visit the warriors and was very impressed by the magnitude of the effort to construct and sculpt the warriors and have them survive so well for about 2000 years. I was also very pleased that I had bought the figures all those years ago so I did not have to pay the extortionate tourist prices! Happy days as they say!