Editor’s Note: In her final post on her family’s vacation in China, Anabel shares with us her day spent exploring Xi’an. Especially the Terracotta Army – a must-see according to her history-loving Hubs, Joe. Well, thank you, Joe, because we heart these gorgeous photos!
After three beautiful days in Hong Kong, we flew into Xian and spent a night in the city. The whole reason we decided to visit Xian was to see the TerraCotta Army.
We spent a restful night at a local hotel and were ready to explore the city of the TerraCotta Army bright and early the next morning. For the day, we hired a driver to ferry us around, with our luggage and all, as we were planning on hitting the airport directly for our flight back to Beijing.
Travel Tip: We loved having a driver and van to take us around! Especially when the destination is rather foreign, and the spoken, native language is not English.
Our very first stop was – of course – to the Museum of TerraCotta Army Warriors and Horses. Once we got there we hired another guide to bring us through the museum. We have read that the museum was quite large and having a guide would make it easier for us to go through the museum. We also purchased tickets to go up to the museum by cart.
There are 4 different pits where the TerraCotta Army Warriors were housed, and a museum. Our guide told us that the first pit was the most impressive and that we should get there first before the crowds formed.
She was not kidding when she said it was the most impressive – it was HUGE!
There were over 8,000 warriors in the TerraCotta Army!! Wow!
I think the most impressive part of the museum was to see the archaeological work. The pits look like this…
They go through and carefully dig out the pieces…
And then put them together like puzzles… A tedious and time-consuming process.
It’s so incredible to think the TerraCotta Army is more than 2000 years old!!
These are the warriors from the TerraCotta Army still awaiting pieces to make them whole again.
Sofia told us there are still 600 more pits like this one to be dug out – imagine that!
We headed out to the second pit, where they had a photo-op set up with these replicas Terracotta Army warriors…
Joe, my hubs who’s also our resident historian, was most excited about meeting with the guy who discovered the warriors many years ago.
We got to meet him and had him sign our book!
(Read too: Mama Chris visited an old Chinese Town, Ping Le Gu Zhen in Chengdu, and shares with KidsOnBoard more of the ancient town.)
Pit’s 3 and 4 were cool as well but they didn’t allow flash photography in there, so I didn’t take any pictures.
At last we made our way to the Museum.
It was really packed so we didn’t stay long. It was getting stressful keeping track of the kids and worrying about losing them in the crowd, so we rushed through our visit.
On our way back towards the city, we stopped at a silk factory. Xi’an was the place where silk originated, so we decided to go see how silk is made.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that the tread comes from moth cocoon. They treaded it off, stretched it and made silk stuffing for blankets!
Our next stop was the Big Wild Goose Pagoda – originally built in the Tang Dynasty.
It was surrounded by beautiful temples and gorgeous gardens. We hired a tour guide too, but I didn’t get much of the history of the place. I was kept busy looking and chasing after the kids.
Kids will be kids. Brielle and Mathias had more fun sliding down the temples steps then anything, hehe!
Since Joe is our history buff, in most of excursions I let him listen while I keep an eye on the kids.
After a quick bite to eat at a nearby Subway, we had our driver take us to the Xian City Wall. We visited the south gate.
This wall houses the old city.
It was pretty neat and people rent bikes and ride all around the wall. We opted to just sit and relax as it was extremely hot and we were worn out. This was a view of the outer side of the wall…
This was on top of the wall…
The view from the top of the wall – can you see the long line of vehicles in that traffic jam below? It made me car-sick just looking at it!
We had other places we wanted to see, but the heat and bad traffic got to us. We decided against going any where else. Instead we got some popsicle, and chilled, before heading to the airport for our evening flight back to Beijing.
Xian was officially the last city on our itinerary. Back in Beijing, we spent a day at the zoo before flying home.
Our Chinese guides had been kind and helpful. They looked after our kids, helped with the stroller, one even gifted us with Chinese Calligraphy of our names…
We made friends easily everywhere we went…. even whilst hiking the Great Wall of China!
We saw some facets we did not like too much, too. When our flight from Xian to Beijing was delayed, then cancelled due to the bad weather, we saw mayhem. After three hours of sitting in a plane waiting for take off, only to be told the flight was cancelled and delayed to the following morning, physical fights broke at the airport amongst some Chinese. If you think the Chinese speak loudly, wait till you hear them really yelling!
Yet, we will always remember the sweet acts of friendship extended to us and our children, even as language was a barrier…
The city of Xi’an was hosting an expo that year (2011) we visited, and there was a little Mascot for it.
We saw this cute little guy EVERYWHERE we went, so it became the Xi’an symbol to us. Our eldest daughter, BN, loved it.
At the airport, we saw many carrying the stuffed mascot doll and tried unsuccessfully to ask where we could buy one. No one could tell us – English was not widely spoken in Xian. While waiting in line to check in, this girl next to us had 2 dolls with her. We tried asking her where she bought it and told her we were looking for one for BN. Joe asked her if she would be willing to sell one to us. She said no and just gave one to BN!! How sweet was that!
BN was jumping up and down with excitement. She thanked the nice lady, “Xie Xie”, and gave her a big hug.
Overall, we were very glad we got to enjoy and experience China – all that is good, not-so-good and the quirks. After all that is why we like to travel, so we can explore other cultures. We welcomed the good and the bad, and together, we had an awesome family vacation.
Editor’s note: Do check out Annabel’s instagram account, @iambel21, for even more gorgeous photos from her family’s travel around the world. Remember, you saw it here first! 😉