Wednesday, July 4, 2012
I decided not to take the tour of the sites around Xi’an and just went to a couple of places on my own—I’m not much of a tour person; figuring things out on my own, even if I get lost, tends to be much more satisfying.
First stop: The Army of the Terracotta Warriors
Today I took the local bus from Xi’an to the Army of the Terracotta Warriors site. The woman collecting fares had been politely asking the other passengers where they were going and telling them how much they needed to pay, but when she got to me she didn’t say anything at all, rather she looked at me, her head cocked forward and slightly to the side and her eyes wide open as if to say “What in the world are you doing on this bus? Did you miss your tour or something?” That look provoked me to want to prove that I had a reason to be there, that I deserved to be there, that my choices that got me there were valid, that my existing in that space at that time counted for something. Interesting reactions. Notably, the woman collecting fares on the bus back to Xi’an was friendly, warm and helpful.
Re: the Terracotta Warriors. After I went to Stonehenge my British friend asked me whether the experience was sufficiently disappointing—Stonehenge is amazing, but there isn’t much to it. The Terracotta Warriors were kind of like that—amazing, and I’m glad I went, but somewhat anticlimactic. Also similar to Stonehenge, the fact that people actually did this baffles me. It is a stunning representation of what people are capable of.
Just outside the Terracota Warriors compound, vendors were selling sweet potatoes. They bake them right there in little makeshift ovens. I ate two for lunch. One orange, one yellow. The orange one was a typical sweet potato like those I would find back home, which I love. The yellow one was sweeter and incredibly delicious. It was raining, so I found a dry spot to sit and eat my sweet potatoes under the eaves of a Subway restaurant about 50 meters from the vendors. The simplicity of my meal against the backdrop of an American fast food chain somehow made my little sweet potatoes even more satisfying. I think that moment was my favorite part of my Terracotta Warriors visit.