Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Terracotta Warriors Review, Pictures, and Guide

We took the green tourist bus from the main train station in Xi'an straight to the Terracotta Warriors site. It took about 2 hours. The bus kept going, but the lady told us right where we needed to get off. We didn't see any major signs saying we were at the Warriors Museum, but we had learned that we should have listened to the lady on the bus when we went to the Great Wall, so we decided to trust this one. And she was right, too.

We walked through all the shops and restaurants to the ticket booth and found out that ticket prices had skyrocketed. They're up to 150 RMB (about $25 each), which is almost double what we were planning (from what we saw online). It was a difficult blow, but what are you gonna do? This was the only reason we even came to Xi'an, and there's nothing else like it in the world. They have the absolute corner on the market, and they can charge whatever they want and we'll pay it.

Once inside, we had a plan worked out based on a Lonely Planet guide. We were going to start with the movie to give us some background on the warriors and the Emperor, then to the museum, and then see the pits in reverse order. We couldn't find the movie, so we started with the museum.

The museum houses several exhibits that talk about the excavation and restoration work that is still ongoing. It also allows you to get up close to many warriors and other artifacts.

Watch out for Chinese tour groups. They have no manners and no respect for anybody. They especially don't care if you're trying to take a picture or reading an information plaque.

After the museum, we headed for Pit 3, the smallest of the three pits. I think this is a good  representation of the whole place, just on a very small scale. Part of the uncovered section is still in shambles.

They take the shambles and then reassemble them into what they used to be, then replace them where they were.

Then we walked over to Pit 2, which was way bigger than Pit 3.

We could see the benefit of visiting the pits in reverse. Pit 3 was super cool and interesting, but it would have been less impressive had we seen Pit 2 first. As you can see from the picture above, most of this pit is still underground, but they've used x-ray or something to see where and what everything is. There is a map on the side facing Pit 3 that details what is buried here.

In some places, the dirt is just cleared away enough to see a head or a hand or something. It's kinda cool.

In other places, they've cleared lots out so you can see the mess that was left after the place was ransacked (after the emperor's death).

Then we went over to Pit 1. This is actually where it all started about 40 years ago. Some villagers were digging a well and they found some pottery. Further inspection and digging yielded quite the find.

The place is ginormous and exciting. With the exception of the main entrance, it's also relatively uncrowded. You can walk completely around the pit and take pictures from all angles.

Another recent unearthing of two heads.

I thought the horses were so cool.

The detail in their facial features is incredible!

Toward the back of the pit is where a lot of the restoration work takes place. You can see warriors being pieced together like puzzles.

At the far back, rows of warriors are almost complete, just about ready to be replaced in the pit they came from.

After leaving Pit 1, we found the movie theater off to the side. We went in to the unique theater, which has a 360 degree screen. You lean against bars in the middle and watch the history of Emporer Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, and how the Terracotta Army came to be. It was very interesting, and if you can watch it first before going to the pits, you should, because it gives an excellent history and basis for everything you'll see here.

We took the same bus back, which picked us up right where we were dropped off this morning, and it was dark by the time we got back to Xi'an, so we went and took nighttime pictures of the Bell Tower...

...and the Drum Tower.

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