China – Day 7: The Terracotta Army

Back the regular schedule – up at 6, down for breakfast and on the bus by 8:30.  Breakfast here wasn’t as good as the hotel in Beijing – still didn’t walk away hungry though, so I’m not complaining.

Today was our day to see the Terracotta Army museum.  As usual, our first stop was a terracotta factory where we learned a little about how terracotta is made and of course had plenty of time to tour the gift shop.  I made my single purchase of the trip here, a 5 piece set of terracotta army figures.

We arrived at the museum where we joined thousands of other people taking the tour.  There are 3 pits that are part of the tour.  Pit one is the largest and contains the vast majority of the figures.  Pit two is the smallest and contains cavalry and chariots.  Pit three is middle sized and contains a variety of figures.

From there we headed back into the city where we now had to squeeze in a couple of items that we were supposed to have seen yesterday but missed due to our flight delay.  The first stop was a Tang Art museum where we has had a Chinese calligraphy lesson (I could have skipped this completely).  Then on to the Small Wild Goose Pagoda.  We arrived as they were preparing to close so Jack and Yao had to convince the guard to let us in.  Then it was a very quick spin through the park.  I think this would have been a nice place to visit but it was drizzling and we rushed through it in about 20 minutes and had no chance to climb the tower.  Due to the time limitation, I would have skipped this stop today.  However, I think the guides are under contract to hit every point specified in the itinerary…  Given all these stops, we were then stuck in rush hour traffic on the way to dinner.  As the dinner was optional we had to swing by the hotel to drop people off.  Unfortunately, this was a case where Jack was not clear with everyone as to what we were doing so a bunch of people that were going to dinner also got off to run back to the hotel for some reason (due to traffic we had parked a few blocks from the hotel),

With everyone who was going to dinner finally back on the bus we were off to dinner.  As usual dinner was good, there was one particularly odd dish that was served – deep fried chicken (or maybe pork) bits and corn flakes…  Odd combination but it was good.

From there we visited the Muslim Quarter, which consisted of a few blocks of street vendors and sidewalk restaurants.  We were also able to walk over to view the Bell and Drum towers which were lit up beautifully for the night.  Unfortunately due to the other stops we crammed in during the day we only had about an hour to wander around.  Given the choice I would have rather skipped a couple of items earlier and just spent the whole evening here – there were some interesting looking foods that we could have tried for dinner.  Oh well.  We made it back to the hotel and had to get packed for our early morning departure to Chongqing.

I thought the tickle in my throat was due to the pollution, but I definitely have a cold.  Jerry was a life saver though as he had packed some cold medication!


China – Day 6: Not quite as planned

Today is a travel day to Xi’an.  Our flight out of Beijing was schedule for 8:25, which meant we had to be on the bus at 6 am.  As the restaurant wasn’t open, then provided us with a brown bag breakfast (white bread, boiled eggs and a banana).  When we arrived at the airport, we found that due to the thunderstorm that rolled through last nightearly this morning, our flight was delayed.  The plane had actually not yet left Xi’an…  We waited at the airport for about 45 minutes and then Jack rounded us up and said they were taking us to a hotel to wait…  Apparently the government has rules that limit the amount of time they want people waiting around?

We were driven to a local hotel where they gave us breakfast (actually nothing left) and then assigned us rooms.  This was not the nice level of hotel we’d been staying at – rooms were clean, but smelled heavily of smoke and the AC was not working.  Anyway we waited there about two hours and then headed back to the airport.

Our flight finally arrived in Xi’an at around 5 o’clock.  This is a city of around 8 million people and is best known for it’s heavy industry and defense industry.  Also for growing cotton, winter wheat and corn.  We were supposed to have had lunch and visited a couple of places in the afternoon, but due to the delay our local tour guide, Yao, said we would have to head directly to the Tang Dynasty dumpling dinner & show that was scheduled.  As this was an optional excursion those not attending would then be taken to the hotel.

Dinner was supposedly around 16 rounds of various types of dumplings; pork, chicken, duck, veggie, mushroom, shrimp, etc.  Many were actually shaped like what the filling was – the duck and fish were the most identifiable.  After the show it was back to the hotel by about 9:30.

Duck Dumpling

Duck Dumpling at the Tang Dynasty dinner theater.