Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Terracotta Army, the final piece of my China trip puzzle. It was quite exciting to see it and there weren’t even as many tourists as I thought there would be. I was amazed by the size of the place and how much of it is still underground. Really, only a fraction has been unearthed.

The place is divided up in three pits and the first contains most of the terracotta warriors. I was with three other people and an English speaking guide. As we made our way around the pits, I heard little of the guides explanations while I ran around taking photos from various angles. But I’ve actually read quite a bit about it beforehand and didn’t feel like I was missing much.

Near the unearthed army is the supposed tomb of the Qin Shi Huang, the emperor who built the army to continue his reign in the afterlife. I have watched a documentary on him and very little is actually known about his tomb. All of it is buried and the claim is that it’s too dangerous to excavate it because the high concentrations of mercury. The emperor believed it would help preserve his body.

Close by is a recreation of the tomb that tourists can explore. This was included in my tour and I went along, but really didn’t get much from the experience as the recreation is very much based on speculation and I think much of it was exaggerated. The actual tomb may be much different and may not be unearthed for years to come.

I had hoped to do some more sight seeing today, but when I got back to my hostel I got a little distracted chatting with some other travelers. One conversation was particularly funny as a man from Kenya was convinced that I was half black and tried to convince me of this too. Either he’s been in China for too long or I’m getting quite a tan.

Terracotta Army:

Unrestored soldiers: