Let the warriors protect us

Day 49
Xi’an, China

Last night, several thousand people, fearful of the earthquake aftershocks that were felt in this city as recently as 36 hours ago, gathered in the park outside of our hotel to sleep under the stars. It certainly wasn’t the most comforting sight in the world — especially when viewed from the 14th floor of our high rise. Thankfully, we awoke safely this morning and saw that the campers had been replaced by a mass tai-chi exercise group.

Our bus was waiting downstairs to take us to Bingmayong, the Terracotta Warrior archeological goldmine that is located about 40 km outside of Xi’an. Part of the tomb of Shi Huang Di, the first Emperor of China, and dating back to 210 BC, it was discovered in 1974 by a bunch of rural farmers digging a well. There are said to be around 7,000 relics all together here; today, only about 10% have been excavated, rebuilt and displayed in a cargo hold. The rest remain below ground.

Each warrior is life-size with a unique facial expression, uniform, hairstyle and pose.

And they were placed in the tomb in perfect formation according to military rank.

Walking through the exhibit and reading some poorly translated signs got me thinking about the language barrier here in China. Very, very few people speak English in this country — it’s difficult even with those folks, like hotel clerks, who work in the tourism industry. Whenever we leave our hotel, we have to take a hotel card, or a business card that lists our location in Chinese. If we get lost, we hop in a cab, show the driver our card, smile and hopefully find our way back.

Luckily, we had only to board the bus for our return to Xi’an. Then, Leah, our guide, made arrangements for us to get back-breaking Chinese massages. This was unlike any massage I’ve ever gotten. Imagine a tiny Asian women slapping, squeezing and walking all over you. While not entirely relaxing during, it was surprisingly refreshing after I’d survived it. And now I’m feeling about as loose and limber as ever!

We got dinner in the Muslim quarter and then saw a lighted fountain show that might have malfunctioned before soaking us all. Back at the hotel, there was no mass camp-out on the plaza in anticipation of a potential earthquake (phew).

Our flight to Shanghai departs tomorrow at 9:05 a.m.

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