The China Logs: Xi’an

Xi’an was wet and miserable when we got here, but has cheered up since then. Nothing much to report except for the Terracotta Warriors which were predictably a highlight. It is one thing to read about them, and understand how many of them there are (4,000) and how old they are (more than 2,000 years) and that they all have different faces, and that some of the technology used to manufacture them and the other things buried with them have amazed 20th century scientists. But it is another thing entirely to find yourself in an aircraft-hangar-sized complex in the middle of the Chinese countryside and actually behold them with your own eyes.

They reckon it will take another 10 years to fully excavate and research the site, but what they have discovered already is amazing to see. The sellers in the market outside the gates are also amazing in their tenacity.

Upon leaving, we were met by an impenetrable line of them holding up small replica warriors, bits of jade, the usual Chinese tourist stuff, and yelling prices at us. The prices fell rapidly too – within less than one minute I had bargained with one woman for a box with four warriors and a horse in it (they are about 4 inches high, don’t panic!) from her initial “One dollar! One dollar!” (Y8, or the price of our dinner some nights) to Y3 (25p). I reckon I could have got her down to Y2 but that would have been churlish.

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