My first official day in Xi’an started with an early morning out to the most famous sight in this area, and really the whole reason people come: the Terracotta Warriors. It’s actually surprising how this is at least an hour out of town, but the drive, once you leave the city, is nice. Farmland and open fields. It was actually a farmer who found the great horde of warriors back in the 70s by accident.
The Terracotta Warriors themselves are important and cool because the complex is absolutely massive. There’s just thousands and thousands of them in 3 main pits, with each pit itself huge and deep. This was the burial army for China’s first great emperor, Qin Shihuang, who united the country, and started the Great Wall thousands of years ago. This army stands guard, and his mausoleum is nearby.
What’s also awesome, and is really the main reason I came all the way out to the middle of China, is that nearly every single warrior is unique. With a unique look, stance, job, face, dress, etc. That’s mind-boggling to show all of this individuality that long ago, and then for them to have survived this long, all in their original place. It really is fascinating, and a great feeling to have at least seen all of them, face-to-face.
My driver and I made it back into Xi’an itself around noon, and I spent the rest of the day exploring this historic city on foot. As I’ve been thinking about it, Xi’an was once a lot like New York City: a huge place where people and cultures mixed, and that sat at the great center of things. During the Tang Dynasty, Xi’an was also a thriving place for the arts. It’s where diverse people and ideas mingled, and where great things happened. And you can see this throughout the city.
The City Walls themselves are pretty cool, and I took a walk along them to get a better sense for the old city. But the brutal heat made a full circuit foolish, and I came down to escape into the shade of Xi’an’s streets.
The best was the Muslim Quarter around the Drum and Bell Towers. This is the first time I have ever seen Chinese Muslims, and it goes to show how diverse this area is, and accepting. The Quarter itself has an absolutely wonderful market that goes on and on for blocks, and it was a nice place to shop and just observe all of things going on. The madness of a market is a great thing, as are the pungent smells.
The rest of the day was spent cooling down indoors, which is especially easy in my wonderful hotel, the Grand Park. It’s rest next to the wall, and just extremely cozy, comfortable, and with plenty of great food! A perfect sanctuary in the middle of Xi’an.