Third stop on the journey, Xi’An, home of the Terracotta Army. I spent my first two days in Xi’an walking around the city, soaking up the sights and smells of the Muslim & Buddhist influence. Xi’an was the first city introduced to Islam, and that can be seen throughout the city. The Muslim Quarter had some of the best food, and spiciest, thus far in China. While there’s a larger Muslim influence on the city, it’s also hard to miss Buddhist influence, as the Giant Goose Pagoda can be seen from miles away.
A giant fortified wall surrounds the old city of Xi’an. Standing 40ft high, 60ft wide and spanning 9 miles in total length, the wall was quite a sight to see. I used a good portion of my second day going to the 4 different gates and biking the top of the wall, which took me about two hours. Foolishly, I decided to bike the wall at the hottest time of day, when it reached 104 degrees! Despite the heat, I had a blast biking the top of the wall, peering down at the giant moat, mosques and Buddhist temples below.
On the third day, I went with several people from my hostel to the Terracotta Army, about an hour outside the city. What a fascinating place! Thus far, they’ve uncovered about 8,000 terracotta soldiers but believe there are thousands more to discover, as none of the discovered are all that close to the emperor’s tomb. Each solider is different, as each one was built by a different builder.There are four types of soldiers, general, cavalry, archer and foot solider. They’ve also only uncovered 1 pair of the 99 pairs of chariots that were said to have been made. Archaeologists come in every evening, after the site closes to the public, and continue to dig and restore the soldiers. Fun fact, well not so fun for the builders, the emperor had all the builders killed after the solider was created, hoping the souls of the builders would go into the solider and protect the emperor in the afterlife. Karma’s a bitch, as that same emperor died early in his life by eating mercury, hoping it would prolong his life.
That evening, a few of us from the hostel went out drinking and ended up coming across a small little shop in the alley of our hostel that was cooking up wings, eggplant and mushrooms. We ended up staying up late eating and drinking beers with the Laoban, aka “Boss Man”! Who knew alley wings would be so damn good!
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Xi’an, despite the 100+ degree heat.