For the last stop we flew to Xi’an, home of the famed Terracotta Warriors. Xi’an is a two hour flight inland, and it is fueled by the surrounding coal plants. As we were landing you couldn’t help notice the smog that shrouded the city. Our guide told us that in Xi’an they would rather breath the dirty air from the coal plants than die from radiation that would result in an accident at one of the many nuclear power plants around which Shanghai is built. Hmm…that’s an interesting choice.
In Xi’an we visited a large Buddhist temple, museum, and calligraphy studio before hitting the sack early. We wanted to be well rested for the main event tomorrow.
The Terracotta Warriors are located about a 90 minute drive outside of Xi’an. The huge archeological site was discover in 1974 when a farmer discovered the clay army while digging a well. Ever since, the Chinese government has been excavating the area and creating a popular tourist destination.
The short story behind the Warriors is that the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang began creating the clay army when he began his rule in 210BC. The army of well over 8,000 figures was created to protect him in the afterlife. The army consists of soldiers, officers, horses, chariots, and more were buried 23 feet deep. Since its discovery hundreds of artifacts have been restored. It is estimated that it will take over 100 years to fully excavate the area.
It was a long journey to Xi’an but seeing the Warriors and the massive pits in which they are buried was definitely worth the trip.