September 9: Today we visited the City Wall and the Terra Cotta Warriors Museum. The City Wall was a wall, yes it is 600 years old, and yes it is 40 feet high 40 feet wide and it’s 8.5 miles encircles the inner city, but it is still just a wall. What I did find interesting was that one side of the wall you could still see the crumbling remains of some of the structures that may have been there 600 for years. The main streets were fast, crowded and active while the side streets reflected the old small village atmosphere. On the other side of the City Wall was a new city with tall buildings and green parks that reflected a totally different life.
We drove an hour to get to the Terra Cotta Museum part of the way was on a freeway then through a rural area of Xian. The streets were being swept by women with large brooms, merchandise was being transported in bicycle carts, and large buses were moving thousands of people many of them tourist. We moved into a rural area and saw what we discovered were groves of pomegranate trees. What was unique about these trees was that every pomegranate that I could see was individually raped in plastic on the tree. Our guide explained that this made the pomegranates ripen faster thus extending the time that the farmers could sell their product. Each side of the road was lined with red and green large umbrellas shielding the farmer and his product from the sun that never shines. Xian is a grey city; the air pollution is so bad that they never see blue sky and seldom directly see the sun.
The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses may be the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century. Work continues at this site, which is around a half a mile east of Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum. Upon taking the throne at the age of 13 (in 246 BC), Qin Shi Huang had begun to work for his mausoleum. It took 11 years to finish. It is speculated that many buried treasures and sacrificial objects had accompanied the emperor in his after life. A group of peasant farmers uncovered some pottery while digging for a well nearby the royal tomb in 1974. It caught the attention of archeologists from around the world immediately. They came to Xian in droves to study and to extend the digs. They have proven that these artifacts were associated with the Qin Dynasty (211-206 BC). Life size terracotta figures of warriors and horses arranged in battle formations blow and before you as you enter the first museum which is the size of three football fields. There are two other exhibition halls displaying additional soldiers and horses and a bronze chariot with horses. It was certainly one of the highlights of the trip so far.
We went to a dumpling dinner and magnificent Chinese musical and dance presentation tonight, but the evening was tainted as our third traveler dropped. Bruce passed out in the rear of the theater, he joins Bernice with severe diarrhea, and Jennifer who tripped over a pear basket in the hotel hall in Dunhuang and spent two days in the hospital after receiving twenty stitches in her leg. We don’t know how many of us will board the plane tomorrow morning for our flight to Lhasa, Tibet