Friday again and time for another snippet of my adventures in China during my pageant days. Big thank you to all 99 viewers that visited my blog for my last release. Please spread the word and sign up at the bottom to receive email notifications. Let’s continue…
While all my friends back in the states were celebrating Independence Day, I was busy touring one of the oldest and historically significant sites in Xian, China: the Mausoleum of First Qin Emperor, aka, buried terracotta soldiers in the tomb of Qin Emperor.
I’ve only heard about Terracotta ALL my life, no big deal. For the first time, I arrive at the world-famous Mausoleum of the first “Emperor” of China, 秦始皇, (Qin Shi Huang). Qin Shi Huang directly translates to “first emperor of the Qin Dynasty.” Rulers before him were simply kings of warring states that constantly engaged in battles for territory. Qin Shi Huang ended the Warring States period and unified China. As much as he was ruthless, he was an important person that single-handly changed China’s history.
Our day began with a mad rush to bring our own luggage down to the lobby and loaded onto our coach bus. Having packed the night before, I got to enjoy a quick break before makeup and hair. Of course despite the mad dash, we had time for a group photo!
Jet lag and the rainy weather that morning made me just want to curl up in bed and pass out. Unfortunately, a quick nap on the bus will have to suffice.
In my mind, I had always envisioned the Mausoleum to be this grand site with huge banners and people in costumes of the time, like I’ve been transformed back in time. What I saw was just a normal and plain entrance, nothing like I imagined. Everything around me just looked and felt wet, blurry, cheesy and broken down. Here’s all of us posing in front of a giant statue of Qin Shi Huang. Looking around me, it actually felt fairly empty and unusually deserted.
The only benefit of rain is that the weather didn’t feel humid or hot and these cute red umbrellas, courtesy of Northwest University.
It was quite an adventure to get to the actual location where the terracotta soldiers were buried. Through a gate, walk for a bit, ride a trolley cart and passed another gate. Along the way, we got stares for sure and curious bystanders trying to talk to us. Rule of thumb is that we can’t offend them by ignoring their questions but nor were we suppose to engage in a conversation. Our only option is to smile politely (pretend not to speak Chinese?) and walk away. If they tried to follow us, we had a giant “body guard”, who we nicknamed 菠萝包, Bo Luo Bao or pineapple bread, to keep them at bay. I have no idea who came up with the name, probably my roommate, but the name just sort of stuck the remainder of the trip.
Traveling with a lot of girls, you’re constantly losing people to bathroom breaks. I calculate it took us about an hour to actually get to the burial site. I was quite surprised at seeing the whole burial site to be at the surface and surrounded by four walls and a ceiling. In my mind, I imagined us entering a dark, underground tunnel, surrounded by terracotta soldiers. I’m not sure why I thought we would go into a cave of some sort.
The entrace is just like many other entrances with a heavy and metalic-knobby door. Thinking it’s just another museum, I didn’t expect to see this. The whole excavated site seemed to be about the size of 4 football fields put together side by side. Unfortunately, we were only able to look down at the terracotta soldiers, not at eye-level. Just to get this picture, we had to pay extra and beg/bribe some security guards. Typical…
Actually that day for some reason my allergies were acting up and I couldn’t put in my contacts without tearing. I was pretty much walking around either blind or with my thick pair of glasses. Mostly blind since I wanted to look normal in the videos, knowing we had the whole camera crew following us everywhere. I occasionally put them on if I really wanted to see something clearly. You won’t see me in glasses in any of these photos, hehe.
The gift shop was surprisingly small for a site so significant. I don’t think anyone was tempted to buy a souvenir. To think we would have to carry it the whole trip, and all on our own too, no thank you!
Terracotta means “baked earth”. I suppose it makes sense the term was made famous by the terracotta soldiers of the tomb of Qin Shi Huang. As a child, I thought these soldier actually had real soldier encased inside. Vefry morbib, I know. They just looked so “real” and unique. Well, actually they are unique, each one had a different face, possibly based on real people.
Also unknown to me was the fact that these terracotta soldiers were actually hidden until a farmer (still alive today) discovered it while digging in his field. How well preserved they are so naturally. Here is the discoverer!
He doesn’t look happy you say? I thought the same thing, until someone explained to met he fact that he probably didn’t get a penny out of his discovery; just an honorable mention and his own booth next to the gift shop. A very grumpy man that could not be cheered up by 14 gorgeous girls. Go figure.
At least the tour was over and we got to eat lunch. Most of our meals were sponsored by someone or some group. No way we can get through a meal without thanking our sponsor. But that’s only secondary to that table full of food. Yes, our Xian sponsor was very generous!
Everything was so yummy. I got my first taste of 肉夹馍 (rou jia mo), meaning “meat stuffed bun”. This dish is native to 陕西, Shanxi Province, to which Xian is the capital of. If I wasn’t on a diet, I could have eaten 10 of those.
Another famous dish is called 五谷丰收 (wu gu feng shou), directly translated to mean “five grain harvest”. This dish consists of corn, peanuts/edamame, and 3 varieties of potato. It’s nothing special, but we do see it come up a lot at meal times.
China has no drinking age, plus the fact that I’m over 21, I have no issues with drinking. But for “appearances” sake, I must “pretend” not to drink but still drink. It’s a confusing thing. After the meal, we were quickly rushed downstairs where we boarded the bus and airport bound, once again.
On a side note, ever seen a blue glittery rose before? Chinese people tries to make everything appear extraordinary and luxurious. Oh and there’s me with my nerdy glasses again, I guess I lied before…
The bus ride plus flight landed us at our next destination, Chongqing, around night-time. Again, exhausted and jet lagged, we stumbled into a surprisingly warm welcome with flowery leis and news media crews. A true celebrity’s welcome and probably the closest we got that entire trip.
Still groggy, we were brought to eat dinner, spicy Chongqing hotpot! Very spicy but oh so delicious. It was the only authentic Chongqing hot pot we got treated to. I really wish I could have eaten more of it, but I was way too tired. Check out that hot pot and flower leis!
After dinner, we checked into a pretty crappy hotel, probably the worst one out of the whole trip, and one we stayed at for the longest. The day was tiring because of all the walking and flying, otherwise it was a pretty fun and touristy day.
[To be continued…]