Sunday, July 19, 2009

Day Five Xi'an

The morning begins with another business visit, this time to Kami Detergent Co. We receive a brief on the products made by the company and brief tour of the facilities, viewing the production line. Again, not very relevant from a business standpoint but fun to see.

Next we go to the Wild Goose Pagoda, a “fairly young” pagoda according to Bryan, at only 700 years old. There is a shrine to Buddha and a place to light candles and incense, with people donating money to purchase long sets of incense that are then burned in a communal pot outside the temple. We do not have enough time to climb to the top of the tower, so I take a quick walk around the grounds to view the smaller pagodas and make a trip to the gift shop. I overpay for some prayer beads, as I wrongly assumed that the available gifts were purchases made to support the temple. Sadly, they were just more vendors looking to take advantage of tourist dollars.

Bryan tells us that we are pressed for time, so after 30 minutes at the temple we go to KFC for lunch. The restaurant is right around the corner from the pagoda and is in the ancient Chinese style architecture, but inside is a standard KFC fast food restaurant. We order in record time and board the bus for a ride to the museum of the terracotta army.

The warriors were discovered in the 1970's when a family farmer was drilling for water and discovered a piece of pottery. He alerted the government who came in and discovered underground tombs full of warriors. Over 4000 warriors have been uncovered in full battle dress, as well as several horses. There are three separate buildings that are still being excavated. The warriors were commissioned to guard the tomb of the emperor, who is buried in a nearby hill. The most fascinating thing to me is that all 4000 warriors have different faces, which were fashioned from the faces of the army. After the chamber was sealed, there were a series of wars and the tombs were raided, warriors smashed and weapons stolen.

In the exhibition hall there was a giant marionette of a warrior holding hands with a creepy little girl, and I did not understand that at all. Apparently there was some sort of tie in with Johnson & Johnson, but it was not clear how the little girl represented this. There was also a stunning photography exhibit featuring world heritage sites. It made me realized how much more of the world there is too see, and I started planning my next trip. We had more than 3 hours at the site, which was really a lot more than was necessary, a source of frustration considering the rushed morning at the pagoda and the lunch as KFC. We easily could have split the time better.

After the warriors, we flew to Guilin and departed into the most unbearably humid city I've ever experienced. We checked into our hotel and were pretty disappointed with the accommodations. Up until this point, the hotels had been great but the hotel in Guilin was abysmal, with black mold on the walls and incredibly unclean bathrooms. The AC barely worked and made the room smell moldy and fishy. A few of us took a walk around the neighborhood to get some air and grab some water, then off to bed.

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