My cold is getting a little better.   Still incredibly stuffed up in my sinuses and my throat occasionally hurts, but at least I don’t have that warm and sicky feeling.

Another smoggy day.

After a long drive to get to the Terra Cotta Warriors, we were almost there when we got stopped several car lengths back from the entrance toll booth because of a visit by the female Australian Prime Minister.  We had to wait about 20 minutes.  Big black SUVs and limos rolled right on by.

The van dropped us off and then we took an open-air trolley bus to a very attractive and modern complex.  Because of the Prime Minister’s visit, we found out that several of the buildings were temporarily closed.

Xian, Terra Cotta Warriors

Mobs in the Museum

The one building that was open was the Two Chariots’ Museum.  It was kind of disappointing – mobs of people everywhere pushing and shoving.  The two chariots were behind grimy glass – very dimly lit.  Yes, that’s the glass case behind that mob of people.  Fortunately, I’ve been able to see the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit that toured the US a few years ago – once in Houston, Texas, and again in Richmond, Virginia.  It was much better in Richmond and Houston!  No crowds and most of the artifacts were not behind glass.

When we were done with elbowing our way to the Two Chariots, Pit #1 had opened so we went in and saw this huge 3-football field sized building.  Quite impressive, but you really couldn’t see any detail of any of the soldiers.  And DH forgot the binoculars in the van!  Can’t believe it!  We lugged them all the way from USA and they’re in the van.  Fortunately, Sandra had a pair that she let me use occasionally.  Our group spent a lot of time here in Pit #1.  Again, tons of people (mainly Chinese) and a lot of pushing and shoving.  I’m getting pretty good at elbowing my way in though.  Lighting was not very good for pictures, and there seems to be smog, even in here.

In some areas they were still assembling the warriors.  Those in the top right still had a few missing parts (heads mostly).  Those to the left are almost ready to be sent back into combat.

This was the closest I could get to any of them, and I had my telephoto almost all the way out.

Horses from Pit #1.

Went on into Pit #3 that was now opened, skirting by Pit #2 which was still closed.  Pit #3 was the Officer’s Central Command, but when we walked in we were greeted by 4 horses and chariot drivers, ready to drive up an earthen ramp.  This was a fairly small pit, certainly much smaller than Pit #1.  But these generals had more detail and we enjoyed it more – far fewer shoving people to contend with too.

Xian, Terra Cotta Warrior

More Mobs

Then we backtracked to Pit #2.  This pit only had fragments of soldiers and the bare earth. However they had 4 or 5 warriors behind glass that you could walk around.  One of them still had red paint on the back side.  Loved the soles of the kneeling soldiers – they were like Nike treads.  But all in all, the museum shows back home were much better.  Way too many people, everything behind grimy glass, and poor lighting.  Although seeing them in situ was cool, I have to admit!

I did buy the DVD of the newest book that’s come out, and had it signed by one of the farmers (supposedly) who had accidentally found the terra cotta warriors when digging a well.

Xian, Lunch, Resort

Lunch “Resort”

Then we were driven to a “resort” that was back across town (Huaquing Aegean Hotsprings Resort & Spa) .  This seems to be a resort that was built mainly for the Chinese tourists.  The grounds and approach were beautiful, but once we got inside, it was a little worn around the edges.  Toilets were all squatty potties.  The food (Chinese) was very good though – particularly the noodles.

The tea we were served was Leo’s own special green tea (Mao Jian) that he brought to share with us.  Delicious!  That’s Leo in the picture with us.  Great guy!

Then stopped off at a “cave farmer’s house” where they were harvesting pomegranates.  Although most of the family doesn’t live in the caves anymore, they still use the room, and according to Leo, the grandmother still sleeps in the cave, as it’s cooler in summer and warmer in winter.  They grow and harvest vast quantities of pomegranates as their main source of income.

Xian, Pomegranate, Pomogranate Tree

Pomegranate Tree

Once the fruit forms after the trees blossom, they cover each pomegranate with a plastic bag to keep off the pesticides and keep out the bugs.

Moisture forms inside the bag, so I can’t figure out why the fruit doesn’t rot.  After they pick the fruit, they let it ripen on the ground, spread out across their stone courtyard, in a couple of layers.  When we were there, two women were picking through the fruit and packaging up the ones that were ripe into cardboard boxes, still with the plastic bags on.

Then a long drive back to the hotel leaving us about an hour’s spare time to change for the Tang Dynasty Dinner Show on Changan Road.  Dinner was efficient if not great.  I did find out that I like their rice wine, which isn’t really wine but a distilled spirit.  They serve it warm in a little cup, and free refills.  I can see how it could be deadly, as it goes down very smooth.  DH got one beer free but then had to pay for the rest so he switched to wine for the same price.

After dinner was the show.  Our table was about mid-way down the theater, but way on the right side, which was OK for my viewing but not so great for others perhaps.  But this was a fabulous show!  The costuming was great, and the dancing, particularly with the long streamer-like scarves, was quite graceful.  Thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience!  Just wish they sold a book there with good pictures.  There’s a wealth of great doll costuming ideas here that I would have loved to have captured!

I’ve included a video, but I will admit that I’m not even a passable videographer.  But at least you’ll get the idea.

Miscellaneous items from the day:

Chinese words Leo taught us:

Ni hao ma?   = How are you?

Ding Ding Hao = reply to How are you? means “very, very well”.

Ma Ma Hoo Hoo = reply to How are you? means “so so”

Over 65,000 characters in the Chinese language.  Words are not made up of phonetic characters like our alphabet.  Characters are more like Egyptian hieroglyphs – each character or part of a character is a picture of something.  So you can’t sound out a word.  Pinyan is an attempt to translate Chinese words into a phonetic alphabet.

In order to read a newspaper you have to be able to recognize about 3,500 characters.  Most children can do this by the time they finish 3rd grade.  Most children from educated homes can read simple stories by the time they start kindergarten.  In order to be considered “educated” you need to have mastery of about 7,000 characters.  Education is compulsory up to 9th grade.  Not compulsory for high school.  Families have to pay for high school and university unless student gets a scholarship.  Very wealthy families send their students overseas to university, but only the very wealthy.

The yellow flowering trees / shrubs along the side of the road that look like ragweed only bigger are “Chinese Scholar Trees.”