Monday, August 27, 2007


Xi'an is full of great archaeological sites, but the main reason people go there is to see the famed Army of Terracotta Warriors. This 2000-year old collection of statues and relics was discovered by farmers in 1974 and is believed to be the guards of an ancient royal cemetery. It took about an hour (by bus) to get there from downtown Xi'an, but was well worth the trip. When we arrived, I was immediately impressed by the site's presentation. I hadn't expected each pit to be covered by its own museum, but the fact that it was made it that much easier (and pleasant) to view.

Pit 1 is the main site and is housed in a well-lit building that seems about the length of three (or more) NFL football fields. Upon entering, you're immediately impressed with the enormity of it all.

There are a lot of impressive things about these statues including the fact that each one has unique facial expression and that most of them survived despite being buried for over twenty centuries. Also, each one carried its own weapon, but those were not on display for us to see.

Towards the back of Pit 1 stands another whole army of statues that have been reconstructed.

Pit 2 was too dark to take any decent photos, but it is unique because there is still some digging going on there. Most of what you can see are remains of a distant past, but it did have a few statues on display (behind glass - sorry for the glare) so one can see what the guys look like up close. These included this calvary man and his horse...

A pair of officers...

And two archers.

Over at Pit 3, you'll find still more warriors and remains (but only about 60 or so). While not as impressive as the first Pit, the last two are still fascinating to see and makes one wonder what other treasure remain buried at the site.

Towards the end, there are a few places to get a cheesy picture taken with replicas of some of the warriors. I am including it here to illustrate just how difficult it is to get five people to pose nicely for the same photo.
The Army of Terracotta Warriors is not just one of the must-see sites in all of China, but perhaps in all of the world, especially if you have an interest in archeology and ancient history. I for one am glad we made it the final trip on our world tour.


The Little Goose Pagoda is part of the Jianfu Temple, a complex that dates back AD 684. The 15-tiered Pagoda itself was built between AD 707 and 709. The top fell off during an earthquake 16th Century, but you can still climb to the highest level and check out smoggy Xi'an and the rest of the complex.

Throughout the grounds, you will find interesting statuary...

Carved trees...

And a giant bell.

There is also a modern park...

And a museum that houses many antiquities and other ancient works of art...

This was another pleasant side trip and there's always a certain thrill to know that you're stepping foot in a place that has existed for thousands and thousands of years. I'm not sure if my kids will remember all of it, but I still think it's kind of cool.


Before heading back to Bangkok, we made a quick (two-night) stop in Xi'an to check out the town and see the site that some people refer to as the the "Eighth Wonder of the World."


No matter where we went in China, our kids (specifically our girls) were mobbed by local citizens who wanted to take their picture. Living in Thailand, we are kind of used to this, but in China, the people always asked first and told us how beautiful, pretty, cute and even clever they were. As a parent it is always nice to hear that kind of stuff and I can't say I disagreed with the comments.

Julia and Olivia seemed to enjoy the extra attention and were only too happy to pose with a bunch of total strangers. At the Summer Palace it did seem like all the stopping and posing added at least another hour and a half to the trip.

The pictures posted here account for less than half of the ones the girls had to take. It got to a point where I had to start refusing the requests in order for us to make it out of there with enough time to see all of the sites.

I'm not sure why this guy needed such a long lens to take a picture of a three-year-old white kid from four feet away, but I'm not a professional photographer, so what do I know?

This phenomenon continued at the Forbidden City...

On the streets of Beijing...

And at the Temple of Heaven Park...

I really don't know why people would want a picture of a stranger's kids, no matter how pretty they are. After a few days I started to feel that we would have attracted less attention if we had been traveling with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie...

It got to the point where I told this guy "If you want a picture of yourself with my kids, then you're going to have to take one of me with you as well!" (I also was dying to get some shots of myself carrying my wife's luggage-sized handbag).

By the time we got to Xi'an (more about that later), I think Julia and Olivia were getting tired of acting cute and saying "cheese!"

I really wasn't bothered by all of the photo opportunities that were bestowed on us. The people that requested them were not rude and seemed sincere. In fact, I hope they're all enjoying their photos of my kids right now!