Xi’an Day 1

After getting some work done (Katie) and sleeping in due to a cold (JT) we started our day off with lunch at Pizza Hut. This Pizza Hut was different than those you find in America – it served many types of food besides pizza, including rice, noodles, stir fry, coffee drinks, smoothies, and bubble tea! Our bill ended up being ¥121 for a medium stuffed crust Hawaiian pizza (¥74), a milk bubble tea (¥22 or 25), and a frozen coffee drink (¥22 or 25).

After lunch, we had the hotel concierge call us a taxi. We grabbed a business card that the concierge had listing the address in Chinese characters, in case we needed it later. The backside of the card had blanks for the concierge to write the taxi license plate number, but the concierge did not utilize this box for our taxi. However, we did get the concierge to translate “Xian Railway Station Tourism Bus Terminal 5(306)” into Chinese characters for us.

It took about 10 minutes to arrive, and then the taxi driver was very persistent in trying to sell us a taxi ride to the Terracotta Warriors. It was interesting how the more we refused, the cheaper his offers became (they began at ¥400/way, then ¥400 total, then meter with supposedly no waiting fee).  But it was extremely frustrating how he kept mocking us by saying ‘bus, bus, bus hahahahahaha’ and then trying to sell us again on taking his taxi all the way out to the Terracotta Warriors. He eventually dropped us a bit away from the west side of the Xi’an Train Station. In the end, he was so annoying and persistent that even if the price had been good, we would not have wanted to deal with him for the entire ride out and back!  It is disappointing that a taxi driver the Sheraton called would be so persistent and mocking.

We found the 306 (aka tourist bus 5) grey tourist bus on the east side of the Xi’an Train Station as expected. They do indeed seem to depart about every 15 minutes, even if the bus is not full. The price to the end of the line (which is where the Terracotta Warriors are) is ¥7 per person. We had no issues with fake buses attempting to lure us to the wrong bus. The bus was a bit warm, but otherwise okay. We departed shortly after 2:45pm and arrived at 3:56pm.  There was no bus stop sign where the bus dropped us off, but there was a line of people waiting to board.  We saw no schedule of return bus departures, so we just hoped that the last departure was actually 7pm as Katie had read online on someone’s blog.

There were no clear signs of where the entrance to the Terracotta Warriors grounds was, so we just kept walking towards where all of the people were streaming from. This effectively led us to the ticket offices. We bought our entrance tickets (¥150 each), and entered the grounds.  We passed the ¥5 electric shuttle ticket office, but opted to just walk for 7 minutes to reach the exhibit entrance.  We quickly entered, but then there were absolutely no signs in English about what was in each building.

Exploring blindly, we entered the first building on the right, which ended up being the museum.  We found the museum to be rather boring (at least to non-Chinese readers and/or those not terribly interested in historical relics), so we moved through it quickly.

Still uncertain about what each building contained, we entered the next building we came to, and realized it must be Pit 2.  Pit 2 appears mainly empty, as most items in the pit have either not been excavated or have been re-buried to protect them.  The limited English language signs in the pit imply that excavation is ongoing, but from reading our own literature, it seems it has been stopped for a while until methods to preserve the excavated items can be perfected.  We also joked that these is little motivation to continue excavating since apparently people will already pay lots of money to see un-excavated displays.

We were uncertain about when the grounds and exhibits would close, as a closing time did not seem to be posted anywhere!  Hence, when we realized that it was almost 5:30pm, we began to search out Pit 1, which is the most impressive pit.

We did find Pit 1, and were amazed to find that there were not many tourists at it!  Apparently arriving at 4pm is perfect for minimizing crowds!  We wandered about the pit, and were impressed by the sheer manpower that had to be needed to build so many massive statues.  It was great to have the best pit pretty much to ourselves (especially after reading on other blogs that it had been hard to even get a clear photo).

“Selfie video” in Pit 1

With the clock nearing 6pm and the guards making no effort to kick tourists out, we decided to find Pit 3.  Pit 3 was the smallest pit, but it did have some very nicely reconstructed statues, as well as two gimmicky offerings: a service to put your face on a picture of a warrior and an opportunity to take pictures close to and touching (fake?) Terracotta Warriors.  We passed on both, as they seemed way too gimmicky.

After enjoying Pit 3, we went back to Pit 1 for a few final photos as the guards were still not kicking out the tourists.  Announcements began being make in Chinese at 6:20pm, and we assume they were saying that the grounds and exhibits were closing at 6:30pm (but we can not be sure of this).  Since we wanted to try and catch the public bus back to Xi’an, we went ahead and left.

Not surprisingly, everyone was required to exit through a tourist market. Immediately upon getting to the exit, touts/sellers began assaulting us to buy souvenir boxes with five figures. Katie quickly declined and pushed her way through, but JT got caught – and once you show any interest, they will not leave you alone.  The guy’s original offer was $1/¥6 per figure, but his offer eventually decreased to ¥10 for the entire box as JT waffled.  As JT put it, it will be good souvenirs and gifts.  But Katie wonders if it might be better to not support/encourage the aggressive touts/sellers (mainly because she hates dealing with them).  They are only so aggressive because it works.

As soon as we left the mandatory tourist market, we say buses marked “Xi’an Railway Station <-> Terracotta Warriors” sitting right by the exit.  Although we had planned on taking the ¥7/person 306/5 grey tourist bus back to Xi’an, we opted to take this bus since it (1) seemed like it would leave very soon, (2) it was only ¥10/person, and (3) we were not confident that the 306 (aka tourist bus 5) tourist bus would actually still be running as we saw no schedule earlier when we got off at the Terracotta Warriors stop.  We found two seats together near the back of the bus, and the bus did indeed leave shortly after we found seats.  Although the bus did make a few stops to pick up additional passengers, and the bus got rather crowded with standing people, it was never bad.  We left the Terracotta Warriors parking lot at 6:53pm and arrived back at the Xi’an Railway Station at 8:09pm, so the bus took about 75 minutes.

After getting off of the bus, we enjoyed walking around the area in front of the train station for a while, as it was very active. There were many people around and many vendors selling mainly two items – 4G speakers and flying fairy dolls. We made the poor decision to walk to the nearest metro line 2 stop, since we were not sure how far it was, and it ended up being 2km away. With JT being sickly, he was pretty dead by the time we arrived at the metro. We had considered going over to the Muslim Quarter for dinner, but opted to just go back to the hotel area. From our metro stop we decided to eat at the second dinner recommendation from the previous night – a beef noodle restaurant.

This beef noodle restaurant – Sushi Beef Noodle – had no English menu, but their menu had some pictures, so we pointed at what we wanted. They conveyed that they did not have the first dish Katie ordered, so she opted for a beef soup with noodles and a boiled egg for ¥18. JT opted for a sliced beef soup with noodles for ¥10. Both were filling, but spicy. Probably the coolest part of the meal though was that we were able to watch a cook make noodles by hand while we ate!

After dinner, we stopped at a corner store for drinks and snacks (¥26.50). Then, we headed back to the hotel and worked for a while before going to sleep.

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