China – Xi’an, 04 October 2005

We have another day in Xi’an, and so, we decided to explore the town of Xi’an and the Sha’anxi History Museum. In the morning we went to the old market, skipped by it. We had some food at one of the food court we found along the way, then in the late morning, we made our way towards the Sha’anxi History Museum.

Sha’anxi History Museum is one of the top four museums in China. It is housed in a beautiful building, and set in a beautifully landscape place. If you have a student pass in China, be sure to use it, as it really gives a huge discount to different attractions in China. It was a very informative display. I really liked how they tried to make their displays relevant, like the British Museum of Natural History. As Y is not a huge museum fan, we did not spend a lot of time there. Nevertheless, I’d highly recommend a trip to the Sha’anxi History Museum.

On a random side note about the museum. When my friends and I started living in China, one of our problems (mainly mine) was trying to find a clean toilet. So, we came up with a system to rate toilets, and one of us would go give a report based the check-list we came up with. A perfect score would be 20. The Sha’anxi History Museum has a toilet we gave a 17. Use it!

Xi'an Museum

Sha’anxi History Museum



Chess players by the street


China – Xi’an, 03 October 2005

Today is the grand day, when we visit the terra cotta warriors. I have been dreaming of seeing this since I read about them when I was 9. If you go by the official buses of the tourism industry, it will cost you about 50 yuan, and the buses can be found near the gate of the old city walls. But just as we were about to do that, there are some illegal buses running around, offering to make the trip for 5 yuan instead, and takes the same amount of time.

Despite it being a major public holiday in China, the lines were thankfully not too long. We managed to get to the terra cotta warriors in a less than one hour. I thought that after seeing many ruins and sites like the Coliseum and the Angkor Wat, I would not be impressed. But the very first sight of the terra cotta warriors still blew me away. We did one round of the excavation site – it was really interesting to survey the different expressions of the warriors and how it was a reflection of the Qing army.

We then went to the exhibition hall on site. It was really interesting, as they explained the different dyes that were used on the terra cotta warriors. It was a pretty informative display.

Things started to get really interesting when we tried to return by the pirate bus. First off, if you are using them, be sure to bargain. We managed to get it for 1 yuan cheaper. It’s not much, but whatever. It’s all about the pride.

The bus tried to travel by small roads to avoid the official toll booths, though it did have to pay the local, unofficial toll booths, manned by locals who were essentially playing chess while lifting a barrier erected by them. It is pretty eye-opening how locals attempt to subvert national jurisdiction.

As it rained the day before, some of the pot-holed, mud roads were filled with water. Our driver is certainly gung-ho. He just decided to push on, and try his luck with the potholes. Unfortunately, his luck ran out. We went into a really, really big pothole, which soaked the engine, and killed the minivan. We were shit out of luck. While that was happening, the whole village came out to watch the spectacle, and watch our predicament. After half an hour of trying, the driver finally gave up, and told us we were on our own. So we were shit out of luck, in the middle of nowhere, and having to find our way back to Xi’an from a rural back road.

We walked from the back road into a bigger road. The rest of the group were lucky, and managed to flag down a minivan, but they filled up, and they didn’t have space for the two of us, so we were stuck. Luckily for us, a cab eventually came by, and we got into it, and made our way back to Xi’an. After all our day’s adventures, we treated ourselves to a nice meal of Sichuanese food before making our way back to our hotel.

Terracotta Army in Xi'an

The sight that took my breath away

Terracotta Army in Xi'an

They are arranged by rank



The village came out with sun chairs to watch our predicament

China – Nanjing to Xi’an, 02 October 2005

Using our friendly hostel travel planner, we booked 6-berth sleeper train from Nanjing to Xi’an. ZJ sent us to the train station. It is nice to be able to lie down and sleep for the long 14-hr train ride to Xi’an, but it is definitely hard for anyone who’s tall. It was really hard for me to turn or anything once I settled in a position. But then again, I really love train rides, so there’s not much to complain about.

Sleeper train from Nanjing to Xi'an


6-berth sleeper train