August 10th-12th; 261km/0km/0km; Yuncheng to Xi’an
For the drive into Xi’an we decided we would hop onto the expressway as we wanted to make good time to see the Terracotta Warriors in the early afternoon as it was on our route towards the city. This would mean we wouldn’t have to travel back out the next day if we wanted to see the warriors.
Character of MANY Different Strokes
For lunch we found a little restaurant in the very touristy entrance area to the Terracotta Warriors. They had a big sign with the most complicated Chinese character I’d ever seen. Turns out it was the name of a special kind of Shaanxi noodle called Biang Biang Mian (the character was the Biang). This was as good a sales pitch as ever so we went in for lunch. The noodles weren’t really anything special, very similar to other types of noodles you can get in other places just with a different cut. Still, a character with the most strokes in the Chinese language was pretty cool.
We went to go see the warriors in the heat of the day, which apparently in Shaanxi province (number 8!) is pretty unbearable. It must of been nearly 40 degrees Celsius and even hotter in the actual viewing areas which were under big domes filled with people.
Even though I feel the Terracotta Warriors gets a bad rap for being over-hyped and over-touristy, I thought they were pretty cool. It’s even more impressive when you consider what it must have been like to find them and when you think that most of them are still buried. It’s sad too to think that something so impressive and grand, just like the Great Wall being connected, was really just the result of a mad, oppressive emperor (Qin Shi Huang) finding ways to keep control.
We were originally planning on only taking 1 day off in Xi’an but ended up taking two. This was mainly because there was just too much to do for just one day. In addition to some more sightseeing, we also had a lot of errands to do which included: cleaning our clothes and gear (Revvit gear hadn’t been washed since the start), shopping for toiletries, post office run, money transfer for guide services and permits for Tibet, writing up some trip updates, dropping off the motorcycle for maintenance, and seeing about a possible new tent. Of course we also wanted to get some rest if there was time :).
We were able to get it all done more or less in the two days with enough time to go take a walk on the old city wall and snap some pictures of the giant Drum and Bell Towers that sit in the center of the city. We tried a local dish one night called 羊肉泡馍 which was like a lamb stew with bits of bread and other things mixed in (sorry, no pictures!)
For our second two nights we also upgraded to the Ramada hotel which was a nice respite particularly since they had a nice western(-ish) style buffet breakfast in the mornings. This happened as the hotel we stayed at the first night didn’t have parking and we had to use the Ramada which was next door for 3RMB/hour. After parking I asked about prices, which seemed reasonable enough for a little treat before we started getting into much more remote areas.