Our little village (for Chinese standards) is only a 2 hour bus ride to Xian, a city with over 8 million people. Buses leave every half hour and the road is big and straight the whole way with not many vehicles. This weekend was a long weekend as Tuesday was Tomb Sweeping day in China, where the Chinese pay their respects to the dead. It is also kite flying day. Not sure if it has anything to do with Tomb Sweeping day, but they are both national holidays on the same day and we didn’t have to go to school so thats all good with me.
Because of the long weekend though Xian was very busy! It was packed everywhere, but a bonus was that we got to catch up with some other Buckland teachers ( from our recruitment company) who are also teaching in various towns around Xian. It was nice to be able to speak in english and have people understand me (even though two of them are from America).
The first thing we did was book a tour to see the Terracotta Warriors. To be honest I actually didn’t know anything at all about them, all I knew was that it is one of the top tourist attractions in China and that since we don’t live that far from it we should really go see it, if for anything, to just say that we have seen it. So while booking it I didn’t have any big expectations (good idea not to have any big expectations for anything here) and just went to have a look.
Well it took a while till we actually got there. First the tour stopped at a workshop where we could buy stuff, then we had to stop for an expensive lunch (expensive for here) then finally we got to the Terracotta Warriors. Well only after we made our way past all the stalls and shops and people EVERYWHERE. We were walking through the car park and a car driving past lowers its window in the back, and this little boy pops his out and yells out to our tour group ‘fuck you!’ it was really funny because he has no idea what he is actually saying, not sure where he learnt that language. I was really surprised because I havent even heard any of the kids at my school who are 15-18 y/o use any english swear words. Probably by the time I leave though it will be a different story!
Anyway so finally after many hours of pissing around we are finally in the main pit where the Terracotta Army is. A bit of history I learnt: When the emperor of the 2nd Dynasty of China died over two thousand years ago he wanted to be protected in his afterlife by an army. I think normally they would bury live soldiers with an emperor, but there were not enough live soldiers so they created the Terracotta Army. Terracotta is a type of clay. The impressive thing is each warrior is live size and each soldier has a different facial expression. They also created horses and chariots, and the archers had weapons. Somehow over time the warriors were forgotten about and were buried in the ground. Then in 1974, some farmer was digging a well and discovered the Army buried in the ground. They decided to get acheologists to dig it up, and found out how massive it really is. In a shop selling books they had the original farmer who was digging the well, he would sign the book if you bought it. I’m not sure if I believe that he is the original farmer though. But anyway it is China, and you must not believe everything you hear or see!! When I was looking at the Terracotta warriors I was actually thinking to myself, is this really real? or even the originals?, they just seemed in such good condition. So I asked our tour guide and he informed us that only 300 out of the 1000 are real, as many crumbled and fell apart after the digging. They have put many back together piece by piece. I told other people about how many of them are not real and it seems to not be common knowledge and not really recorded anywhere. But now it is more real to me, because I was just a bit sceptical.
But anyway it still is a pretty impressive sight. One thing about Chinese people is that they are crazy about taking photos, of anything and everything. So you can imagine what they were like here. I had to push and shove my way through many layers of people all trying to get to the front to get photos. The benefits of being bigger than everyone else here!
So although it was a long journey, and was packed, we were really pleased that we went. It is a really unique attraction and pretty spectacular. Xian fullstop is an awesome city to be in. Many tourists who come to China, come here. It is an ancient city, with a big wall around it and many other impressive buildings. We also went out to a couple of clubs and that was another interesting experience! Everyone gets a pat down by security, and your bag gets scanned and checked, they took my bottle of water and my lollies, didnt touch my pills and pain killers though! thats alright they can have my lollies! But my pain killers cannot be replaced as they only have shitty low strength here. I brought a big supply with me, but mum may need to send some more soon.
Anyway the club was awesome, well the first one we went to was. Big massive chandeliers everywhere. A good live band, and some nice cocktails. The only weird things were the security who were dressed like cops and had big massive helmets on, just walking around and they wouldnt let me take any photos, wouldn’t want to piss them off so I put my camera away. And the waitresses were walking around and blowing on whistles just for the hell of it I think. But hey, when in China I guess. The next club we went to was more techno, not my scene.
The next morning I decided I might get my hair done as our hotel was next to a good hair salon. To make a long story short my hair is now ginger. They don’t know what to do with western hair, and I think they didn’t leave the bleach in long enough. But even going to the hair salon is an interesting experience. Each client gets their own computer to use while getting their hair done. All the hair dressers came and had a good look and touch of my hair. They don’t know how or what foils are and could not work out how I have such fine highlights in my hair! At least before it looked natural (thanks to Bry!) but now its no secret, my hair is BLEACHED!!! I’m wondering what my students will say when they see me tomorrow with my ginger hair!
We had a really good time in Xian, but there is still so much to see and we will definitley be making more weekend trips here. We have settled well into our apartment and town. Everyone here is very friendly and nice. Chinese people overall are a very kind race, definitely the nicest people I have ever met from all the countries I have been to. This has made the transition and culture shock a lot better than what I was expecting. We are now considering and probably will extend our contract to stay till January.