So yeah. Friday Night. That’s when I should be drinking. But no, instead I get to spend 12 hours on a train to Xian, China.
It was, however, a really nice train. With a bar. And comfortable beds. So 12 hours later, on Saturday morning, we arrive in Xian (shee – ann) and are greeted by our tour guide, a chinese man who, to make things simple, went by the name of Richard. Quite a knowlegable fellow, actually, and knew where to get a lot of really good food. And he laughed after almost everything he said, which I found kind of amusing.
We started the day by visiting the Terra Cotta warriors, which were built for the first emperor of China about 1800 years ago to protect him in the afterlife, and were nearly completely destroyed by later emperors, then buried and forgotten about. In 1974 a farmer unearthed the site by accident, and was compensated for his find with about $2.50. Yeah. Two dollars and fifty cents. Not only that, but the rest of the year was horribly dry, and suspecting that the farmer had invoked a curse, the townspeople in his village burned his house down and drove the man into the mountains to live in isolation. For ten years.
Not until 1984 was the peasant farmer located and inducted into the Museum of Chinese history, from which he now recieves a nice salary, and also signs books and sells photos of himself shaking your hand at the excavation site, and I was proud to both buy his book, and have my photo taken with him on the day that we visited. The warriors are now considered to be one of the greatest archeological finds in human history, and this poor bastard spent 10 years living in a cave in the mountains because of it. Life’s a bitch.
The warriors themselves are incredible, and any words I could possibly have to say on the subject would fail to do them justice. The photos I took are pretty good, however, so check them out when you get a chance.
After the warriors, we visited the Hot Springs Imperial Palace in Xian, which isn’t really too famous or historically significant, but it is pretty nice, and how can you go wrong at some hot springs regardless of what country you’re in? So we walked about for a bit, took some photos, had some food, and then went to check out the Xian City Wall.
About 600 years ago, in order to protect themselves from Mongol invaders, the city of Xian erected a 40 foot high by 40 foot wide wall that goes for about 9 miles around the city. It now stands as the most complete city wall that stands in China, as well as being one of the most ancient defensive systems found anywhere in the world. It’s a pretty impressive damn wall, and it’s in amazingly good shape.
You can also ride bikes on it, which they will rent you for just a couple of bucks. After I asked how long it would take to ride the entire wall around the city, I was told that due to the large amount of potholes and such, it usually takes about an hour. So I bet the guy that I could do it in 45 minutes.
It only took me 35. I so freaking rule. It is now my belief, and the belief of both our guide and the bike rental guy, that I now hold the World Record for riding a rented bicycle completely around the Xian City Wall. On your knees, world. On your knees.