Xian is a nice city, the inner part at least, plenty of interesting street food (allowing a lovely progressive dinner tonight as we walked across town), a bustling Islamic market, bright neon lights and interesting older style architecture including a vast square town wall.
Today we visited "the eighth wonder of the world". The Terracotta Army. Catch bus 206 from near the railway station to get there. The Terracotta warriors themselves were only rediscovered in 1974. They stand in giant filled pits some distance from the mausoleum of one of China's Ch'in dynasty Emperors. (Ch'in being the word that China is derived from). The lines of soldiers stand in narrow tiled corriders between thick walls of packed earth. The walls over the centuries have carried the weight of giant timber beams lined with matts then covered with soil. The beams can still be seen where they have sagged and slowly turned to stone.
I couldn't help thinking about the circumstances that may have lost such a treasure from the historical record for so long a time. Were the terracotta warriors covered over when the great Emperor die, or did work continue under some passionate collector until the House of Ch'in fell soon after. As the great unwashed rose to tear down the Empire, how were the terracotta warriors protected or hidden, or why weren't they looted and broken further? What human tragedys were played out in the defense of this, the greatest army of earth? Tomorrow (or today really) we plan to visit Hua Shan, the most deadly 'mountain hiking' route in the world. We will see. Its quite apt really, we have visited one of the holy mountains of Tibetan Buddhism (Kawa Karpo), one of the sacred mountain of Chinese Buddhism (Emei Shan) and now we will visit one of the five mountains of Taoism. One last natural scenic adventure for us in China. (update: we delayed Hua Shan a day to focus on job applications and other organisational tasks, we can't wait for a bit of exercise and scenery!)