Well, we finally made it to the Terra Cotta Warriors of Xian. George the driver picked us up at 7:15 and 45 minutes later we were there – as opposed to the day before when after 45 minutes we were not even 1/4 of the way there. Anyway, we parked and mysteriously a woman appeared, out of nowhere it seemed, to offer her services as a guide. We agreed as she spoke fairly good English and we were off. She informed us that there are 22 English speaking guides and over 600 Chinese speaking guides. Guess the big North American rush to Xian hasn’t happened yet.
The museum opens at 8:00 and by the time we got in about 8:15, it was already very busy. There are three huge (and I mean huge) sites where you can view the warriors. The first site has the photo one usually sees when the warriors are discussed.
They are really amazing. They were discovered in a farmer’s field by three farmers as they dug a well. (Ed. note: The place we were the day before was discovered when the government was building the highway to the airport. If they had dug about 50 yards ot the west of where they were, no discovery.) One of the three took a piece of pottery from a broken warrior (although they didn’t know it) to the government artifact people and he was then recognized and generously rewarded as the discoverer – the other two not so much – totally left out. As the guide said, “The one who reported it has had dinner with many heads of states from around the world, has a big new home and a healthy pension for life. The other two men are still farmers.” The fellow hangs out periodically at the museum site – he was signing “his book” at the book shop. Nice guy – if you bought his book, you could take his picture but no book – no photo!
Lots of interesting stuff:
- The mausoleum was started when the emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China was 13 years old and completed 38 years later when he died. Talk about long range planning – and early arrogance!
- The warriors were all painted when discovered but within 4 days of being exposed to the air the colours faded away.
- They were positioned on huge wooden platforms between supporting walls where another layer of wood rested and formed a cover before they were buried in layers of dirt
- Some of the wood above them rotted and then the earth on top collapsed onto them
- Some of the wood above them was somehow burned (Ed. note: Wikipedia suggests by looters) and then the earth collapsed on them.
- The second pit has a total or 64 chariots and teams of horses yet to be excavated. I think they are trying to figure out how to do it without losing the colour.
By the time we got to this pit, about 9:30, it was getting really busy – at least in our view. There were hundreds of people there – maybe thousands. The day before must have been absolutely nuts.
The warriors and all the things that were with them were built by the first emperor of China. The site was chosen away from Xi’An (the nation’s capital and seat of power) because of good Feng Shui–here, the site is protected by mountains, and a river runs through the area, bringing good chi, etc, etc. He died because he was using mercury to stay young (don’t try this at home). His mausoleum is still untouched. You can see the grass-covered hill from the highway but experts estimate it will take another 80 years for the mercury rivers he had surrounding his resting place to dissipate. Through the wonders of modern science, they can ‘see’ them and all sorts of things underground.
And so we leave – but not before experiencing more of TICTIT.
As we leave the excavation site a couple of policemen race past us.We come upon this scene, which the Chinese tourists are fervently ignoring – only the foreigners pay attention. Apparently the guy on the ground was caught by other citizens picking someone’s pocket. He was some upset, boy – first sitting up and screaming and then refusing to stand after being lifted up by the police.
And then we are on the road. We are about 1 mile out of the town and the traffic going into town has been a solid line of cars. I have no idea where these bozos think they are going, but just like the day before they are trying to make a two way road into a one way road and forcing us on to the shoulder.
The Shoe Blog (aka The Watch Blog or Listen to Links)
Do you remember reading in Our Grand Tour of China how Martin and I bought watches in the secret secret room at the Replica Mall? Well, let me get you up to date on my $50,000.00 (Ed. note: I paid only 1% of that after Terry told me once that I could spend up to $500 for a watch) A. Lange and Sohne watch. (Ed note: I meant a real watch!) Two days after I bought it, I had to take it back because the day of the week wasn’t working properly. He fixed that and then on April 8th it stopped completely. Now, given that it works on the principle that motion winds it and it had been on my wrist, I figured
- oh well, it’s broken,
- they told me it had a three year warranty,
- I’ll just take it back the next time we are in Shanghai, which turned out to be yesterday.
In we go and the first fellow I dealt with, (before turning me over to the guy in to the secret secret room) is there and greets me warmly. I show him my watch and he proceeds to get his phone out – I think to phone the guy and let me know I am coming down for a replacement. But no, it is to show how – on April 8 (Ed. note: weird, huh), the police came, raided the secret secret room, and took away all the designer bags, watches and “employees”. Links later told Terry that they lose all the merchandise, will likely go to jail for up to a year and be fined 300,000 rmb – $50,000. She also tells us that nothing would happen to foreigners if they are caught in the raid. Whew.
Well, that’s too bad – but what about me? He takes me – very carefully, to a new secret, secret room and we strike a new deal – I get a Patek Philippe watch for no additional money – even if it is a “different” shop. Now I have some leverage – if (when?) this watch stops, I can always lead the police to a secret secret room.
Martin – how is your watch working?