We attempted to visit the out-of-town Terracotta Warriors sight, but once we arrived at the bus station, we could see hundreds of locals had the same idea. We decided to try again the next day, this time much earlier to beat the hordes. Reshuffle the plans then.
Outside the 12m high brick walls that form a rectangle with a perimeter of 14km around central Xi’an, the rest of the city sprawls out in all directions. The impressive South Gate was hidden under restorations as we passed through it to explore some of the southern sights outside the city walls.
The Shaanxi History Museum is arguably China’s best museum. Having already visited the Shanghai museum among other city and provincial museums, the bar had been set high. And it didn’t disappoint. Shaanxi province has been the heart of Chinese history and culture for centuries. Each room was excellently presented and provided a stroll through ancient Xi’an.
There was much of the usual bronze, jade, porcelain, iron and ceramic items. But also some excellently preserved terracotta warriors to provide a glimpse of what lay ahead in our upcoming travels. As is usually the case, local tourists crowded the dark rooms, frequently (and rather annoyingly) standing directly in front of the glass and blocking everyone else’s view.
A peculiar phenomenon amongst Chinese tourists is to whip out cameras and phones, take a quick shot and move on to the next exhibit. No pausing to appreciate the item or read the description. It’s like they just take photos of everything to then go home and look at it. What a waste.
On a couple of occasions we watched people with big-super-expensive looking DSLR cameras, jump directly in front of the glass, snap it with a flash, then review their shot with a massive flash reflection all over the photo, to then take an identical shot again! One husband took a snap of his wife standing next to an item in a glass case. We saw the review shot as a dark silhouette against a glass flash reflection explosion. He gave the thumbs up to his wife and they moved on. (We assume he would potentially get disciplined later on!)
One of Xi’an’s most famous landmark is the Big Goose Pagoda. It was completed in 652 AD to house Buddhist sutras brought back from India by the monk Xuan Zang. It is surrounded by the Da Ci’en Temple. The grounds seem to be a popular spot for locals to gather and enjoy the evening.
As we sat and people watched, we noticed another peculiar phenomenon among Chinese toddlers. They all were wearing pants and coveralls with a vertical opening on their backsides. This was winter and Xi’an is fairly chilly. These toddlers were super rugged up, except for the bare opening, which surely would let the freezing breeze in. Some babies had filled-up nappies bulging out of the slit.
Then it hit us.
We watched in humorous horror (delight) as one toddler preceded to bend over in a squat and we saw bare bum cheeks. Then another did the same and began peeing on the ground!
Toddler toilet time, anywhere, anytime!
For some reason, we began noticing it everywhere we went. Hope this doesn’t catch on anywhere else in the world.
Visited 1st February 2014.