Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Meat on Stick, and Toy Soldiers

I am too tired to write extensively, so i will try and keep it short.

I made it to the Terra Cotta Army site, which, if i do say so myself, was a feat in and of itself. Leading up to this trip those who knew where i was going to go, recommended that i get on one of the numerous tours to the different sites. However, when i tried to sign up for one of the tours, i was told that this was the offseason, and that i wouldn't be able to get one myself. Anyhow, i found a public bus that went to the site (about an hour drive away) which took some time as my guidebook only told me that the buses were green... needless to say just about every single damn bus in the city was green.

I found the right bus, and i was one of 2 people on the bus to the site. Travelling in the off season has been a treat in my opinion. For the most part no one assumes i am a tourist, and i get to see the city when it isn't dealing with hordes of "waiguo ren" (foriegners).

I get to the site, but there is at least a 10-15 minute walk up until you get to the museum area. .. which is exacerbated by my inability to read signs and i had to be turned around twice. Remember when i remarked about commerce in HK? It is nothing compared to Xian.. i swear everyone is selling something, and some of it is heart wrenching. On my drive over to the site, i noticed that some of the housing along the way looked like it must have 200 years ago. I took pictures, but alas, right now i can't show you.

Anyway... i got my own personal tour of the Terra Cotta Army, which you all should read about here at www.wikipedia.org My lonely planet guide makes a point of talking about how overwhelming the army is.. and i don't have too much to add to that. The scale of this entire thing is mindboggling.. just mindboggling. What i think most people have glossed over though, is how this isn't just a testament to the achievement of man, but also a testament to the power of a Cult of Personality, and despotism. Such an achievement would be impossible in a democracy, and it is something else to have the power to make real the diaromas and toys of your youth.

I had quite a nice bus ride back into the city as one of the ticket sellers got a nice kick out of my attempts to speak chinese. She was exceedingly kind and showed me where she thought the best places to go, and continually asked me questions even if i couldn't understand her, or make her understand my answers. It was nice to have a conversation, after several hours of either nodding, or trying to explain why i didn't want the 14 pounds of dry fruit i just asked for. If Hong Kong was the city that spoke 3 languages, Xian is the city that makes me feel like i speak none. I have never felt more like an idiot than these past couple of days. No one speaks english, no one tries, and no one speaks or understands cantonese. For dinner, i had to stupidly point to pictures on the menu.

Tomorrow will be more adventures on the public bus system, and i may even try out one of the "Friend Changing Stations" (I think this is the translation for nightclubs/bars here).

Okay.. i said i would keep this short, and then did nothing of the sort.

I need to go crash and get out of this smoke filled internet cafe anyhow.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Linus - just be careful when you go to the "Friend Changing Stations." I think people usually catch something when they "friend change" too much.