Monday, June 30, 2008

Day 4: Xi'an (Terracotta Warriors and Wild Goose Pagoda)

The wake-up call came far too early this morning: 4:30 a.m., to be exact. As we know, I am not exactly a morning person, so I was practically comatose when the phone started ringing. Josh sprung out of bed, and I groggily mumbled to myself and stumbled to get ready.

We jumped in a cab and arrived at the Beijing airport at 6:00 a.m. to catch a flight to Xi'an. With some time to kill and grumbly stomachs, we made our way to a noodle shop that was completely packed with people looking for breakfast (turns out noodles are a common Chinese breakfast food).

I ordered spicy pork noodles. They were unbelievably delicious and although this is something I would usually consider a lunch or dinner food, they surprisingly hit the spot.

Josh ordered veggie noodles. Also very delicious.

Our flight took off at 7:15 a.m., and we arrived in Xi'an a little after 9:00 a.m. We were met by a driver to take us to the Terracotta Warriors. The Terracotta Warriors are about 8,000 warriors made out of clay that guard the tomb of Qi Shi Huang, the self-titled "First Emperor of China." Before Qi Shi Huang, China was a bunch of city-states. He came along and unified the city-states in 221 B.C. This guy was quite a character to say the least. Among his list of accomplishments, he commissioned what would become the beginnings of the Great Wall of China, commissioned the Terracotta Warriors, and unified China. The bad news? He killed hundreds of thousands of the laborers who built both the Great Wall and the Warriors.

The Terracotta Warriors were only "recently" discovered in 1974 by a local farmer who discovered pieces of one of the soldiers while at his well. This farmer now hangs out in the gift shop signing programs. Josh and I saw him, but they won't let you take pictures with him. Apparently, some of the elderly Chinese are superstitious when it comes to cameras -- they believe they bring bad luck. (I hate having my picture taken, so I am considering adopting this philosophy.)

Josh outside the museum that houses "Pit 1" of the Terracotta Warriors.

One row of the warriors. Sorry it's so blurry. The lighting was low and no flash photography allowed. I wanted to get down there and take pictures with the soldiers, but unfortunately, it's all roped off.

More of the army. One very cool thing that you cannot tell from my blurry photos: each soldier is different from the others. They have unique clothing, hair styles, and facial expressions. Also, you can tell the rank of the soldier by his hairstyle and how pointy his shoes are! (The pointier, the more powerful, of course!)

The building that houses the soldiers is HUGE!

More (blurry) pictures.

After finishing at the museum, we headed back to our car and our driver took us back into the city of Xi'an which is a little over an hour away. The combinations of the air conditioned car, the vibrations of the road, and the lightning speed at which we have been traveling started to make Josh and I realize how tired we were. We both started to drift in and out of sleep.

That is, until we arrived at our next destination: the Wild Goose Pagoda. The Wild Goose Pagoda is a Buddhist pagoda dating back to the Seventh Century.

Outside the gate was this little boy who appeared to love the lions as much as I do!

Here is the pagoda. Isn't it magnificent?

We walked all around the pagoda. Again, no pictures of the Buddha allowed, but it was spectacular and golden, of course.

More pictures of the gorgeous pagoda.

As we were walking out of the pagoda, it started to rain. By the time we got to our hotel, it was pouring. Honestly, it's probably a good thing as I want to go out and explore, but we should probably go to bed early tonight. There hasn't been much sleep on this trip (we can sleep at home -- too many other, better things to do in China!), and I feel myself starting to get snappy. I had to hold in some rage when the woman at the front desk of the Sheraton Xi'an started to make things difficult. However, it turns out that it is hard to get mad at a woman named Smile Li.

Back in our hotel in the early evening, we realized we were starving. Did you notice that there weren't any pictures of lunch? Yeah, that's because we were so busy darting around, we didn't have any!

So, in a grumpy and hungry haze, we stumbled down to the lobby, borrowed a couple of umbrellas, and walked to a dumpling restaurant close by. (Xi'an is apparently famous for its dumplings.)

The server recommended this noodly spinachy concoction soaked in chili oil. It was one of the most delicious things I've eaten here so far!

We also ordered pork dumplings (for me) and vegetarian dumplings (for Josh).

We asked for napkins, and they brought us these cute little packets with scented napkins (smelling kind of like old lady perfume).

After dinner, we hit up a small convenience store so Josh could buy some candy. Now, we are back in our room. Although it's pretty early, I think it may be time to take advantage of the bad weather and get a good night's sleep! We have to be up early tomorrow to catch a flight to Shanghai.

Before signing off, though, two quick non-China-related items. First, I have been reading a bit of news on my Blackberry and came across this article. Although I love politics, I usually stray away from discussing political topics on this blog as it's not really the proper forum, in my opinion. However, suffice to say that if we go to war with Iran, I am moving. Italy sounds nice. Even Canada.

Second, today is my Grandma's birthday! Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Okay, time for bed. Next time you hear from me, we will (hopefully) be in Shanghai!


weatherboy said...

Smile Le was an interesting name...

NEVER thought i'd like noodles for breakfast, now i think it's gonna be a staple at the weather-house!

First one to Shang Hai WINS!!!

weatherboy said...

Whoops. "Shanghai!"

dapotato said...

another fab recap! those noodles look delicious.

WeezerMonkey said...

I was telling Mr. Monkey yesterday that we might have to do some do-overs of our past trips, now that we have a decent camera.

I'm quite certain Xi'an is on my list. There are a number of warriors on display right now at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana. I might go take a look before they're gone to re-live the experience. Sort of.

We eat rice porridge for breakfast, too. Anything goes!

WeezerMonkey said...

Oh, and the noodles you had for breakfast look suspiciously like...Japanese ramen. ;)

Arian said...

I think it is brilliant to name a front desk person Smile!! I just told that story to our front desk here at work and she loved the idea and is going to change her name. :) Get some rest you guys! xoxo

angel said...

the noodles with chili oil look like a korean dish called jahp-chae, but they aren't typically spicy. the terracotta warriors look spectacular! they are much more impressive than the mini version they had at china epcot. ;-) i'm loving your travel posts; can't wait for more! xoxo

Danica said...

yay, noodles for breakfast are the best! folks in cambodia do the same thing. makes sense though, to have a hearty meal first thing in the morning so as to have lots of fuel to get through the day. i may have to re-introduce that to my diet.

the soldier pics were great. love these blog entries, keep them coming!

btw, nick and i are considering london, cambodia and canada as options should we go to war in iran. a girl's gotta know when to say when. this shit is scary!

California Girl said...

Smile Li! I love it!

Can't wait to hear about Shanghai! Your trip is incredible.

amber said...

those noodles look sooo good!

hope you were able to get some sleep!

tootie said...

Your trip looks like so much fun! I've always wanted to go to China, and now I want to go even more so.

In the meantime, I'll be living vicariously through you and your blog recaps :)

wan-nabe said...

i'm even more interested in seeing the local exhibit of terracotta warriors now. fascinating stuff.

Moviegirl20 said...

You make China look so beautiful!
My Josh and I have thought about moving to Canada...its looking more appealing.

R said...

The terracotta warriors were so cool! I'm loving the fact that you are seeing so much in such a short period of time. My kind of vacation! ;)