"" Writer's Wanderings: China -- Beijing to Xian

Friday, September 11, 2009

China -- Beijing to Xian

The breakfast buffet is at 5:30 a.m. They are still setting it up even though it’s supposed to be open at this time. We are able to get the cold items, sushi among them. They start setting out the hot food as we leave.

Our group boards the buses for the airport. There are three buses for 78 of us on this Princess Cruise Tour and our bus, #2, has only 18 on it making it nice and roomy. Our local guide, Maggie, introduces herself. She warns us of pick pockets and teaches us some Chinese words: zao an—good morning, ni hau (nee-how)—hello and used like “How are you?”, xie xie (shea shea)—thank you.

My God moment comes early when Maggie points to the sky and says she talked to the God to keep it from raining and make the fog go away. So, okay, it may not mean the same to her but I’ll take what I can get.

We arrive at the airport about 7:30 a.m. Our tour guides, Fred and Duan, have already checked us in and pass out our tickets. We board another bus that takes us out to our plane. Even though the sun is coming up, the fog is too thick for it to penetrate. We board the plane and begin our wait. We cannot see the plane sitting next to us.

Maggie had explained to us that Beijing is nestled in between mountains and they not only hold the smog in but cause the fog to roll in often. The smog she said is from industry and is a sign of the improving economy.

As we wait, we ask each other, “Will they take off in this stuff?” It’s a frightening thought. What are their safety standards? Are their margins less defined than ours? We are served a meal while we wait. It is some kind of bean and rice dish and very hot. I pass. It smells a little funky. There are a few other things in the box that look interesting though and I nibble on some as I watch the plane next to us reappear slowly and then fade again into the fog. I test the black egg. One bite is enough. Although it doesn’t taste horrible, it doesn’t taste good. There is a salad under some kind of meat, a carton of yogurt, something that resembles a cinnamon roll, and a container of water.

Gradually the shape of the plane reappears and I begin to see more lights beyond that plane. At 11:05 a.m., we finally take off for Xian. Because we waited on the plane, we are among the first flights to escape the fog on the one runway that is open.

At 12:45 p.m. we arrive in Xian. It is foggy here as well but not as bad as Beijing. The smog is nasty though and it smells. Three buses await us for the trip to the Terra Cotta Warriors.

Lunch is a buffet at the Terra Cotta Warriors complex. There are homemade noodles being made at one end of the room. Nice and tasty. I pass on anything that looks uncooked. We were warned at the travel clinic that fresh fruits and veggies washed in the local water supply might be unsafe because of the water residue that could be ingested. We were also warned to not drink anything with ice in it. Beer is offered and we take that. It’s cold and tastes good—a mild beer.

We get our first glimpse of squat toilets. Thankfully there are western toilets available but we have to wait in line for only two or three of them.

The museum area is huge. It is a complex of half a dozen buildings with the largest the size of two or three football fields. The life-sized warriors stand mostly in the pits where they were discovered. Some are displayed near the walkway for tourists to examine more closely. Gray clay is evident where they are pieced together and/or a piece is missing. Each warrior is unique—different facial features, hair, helmets, uniform detail. A few horses stand proudly but without the chariots of wood which have disintegrated. A couple of restored miniature bronze chariots are displayed in a special museum. A good deal of history is revealed here from the Qin dynasty. The emperor’s more recently discovered tomb lies buried in a mound visible a few miles away. The warriors, they say, were placed here to protect the tomb.

I opt out of the cinemax movie. (I get dizzy when I have to stand surrounded with moving pictures). Bob reports it was very interesting and it explained how they believe the warriors were made. Instead of the movie, I wander around the gift shop. There are all sizes of warriors for purchase. We were warned that the really cheap clay ones the vendors sell outside are not fired and could easily break.

Four or five farmers discovered the warriors when they were digging for a well. Of course they immediately reported the find to the government and were rewarded with the recognition. I’m not so sure there was any monetary reward but you can purchase a book in several different languages signed by one of them. I purchase a book in English and meet Bob as he exits the theater.

We board buses for the trip to our hotel to freshen up for our evening out.
Other China posts:
The Forbidden City
Tiananmen Square
The Great Wall
The Summer Palace
Wuhan to Beijing
Chinese Farmhouse
Three Gorges Dam
Three Gorges and Lesser Gorges
Fengdu—The Ghost City
Cruising the Yangtze
Chonging—The Yangtze River
The Big Goose Pagoda
Evening in Xian
Timid Tourist in China-Travel Day
China-The Trip of a Lifetime

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...