We had a little bit of a mare trying to get to the terracotta warriors this morning…
We jumped in a taxi to the train station – where we’d been told to get a green bus to the site – and by 9.30am the queue was absolutely huge! It snaked its way across the car park right up to the bus stop. There was well over 500 people waiting and the buses weren’t very frequent so the queue would’ve taken a few hours to get through!
We stopped a taxi near by and asked for an approximate cost for the journey – ¥160. The bus was only ¥8 but we thought that paying the extra on travel would mean that we’d miss a lot of the crowds. The driver agreed to put the taxi meter on and away we went…
10 minutes into the journey the driver wanted to turn off the meter and charge us a set fair. We refused and insisted that he kept it on (he was a licensed taxi driver so it’s required by law!). After huffing and puffing a little he settled back into driving. 10 minutes later a toll road that we needed to cross was closed, the driver wanted to turn around and take us back to the train station. We asked him to just take us a different route (as the green bus we’d planned to get on was clearly still getting to the site). He tried to say that we needed to pay ¥200 now but we refused and insisted we’d pay what was on the meter!
I think that we annoyed him because his driving got much worse than before. He was driving really quickly, in and out of cars, in the bus lanes and even towards oncoming traffic! At one point we were driving on the wrong side of road blockades when traffic started to come towards us! There weren’t even any seat belts in the back so we were really nervous!
We finally arrived at the terracotta warriors site in one piece and paid the ¥130 that was on the taxi meter before quickly getting out of the taxi. As we began to walk away the driver got out the taxi and chased us demanding that we pay the ¥250 that we ‘agreed’. We didn’t agree to that at all. We’d been insisting the whole way that we’d pay the meter price. If anything we would’ve gone up to ¥160 because that’s what he said it might cost at the beginning!
Within 30minutes Leah and the driver were shouting at each other in both Chinese and English. The driver demanding now that we pay him ¥200 and leah saying that she wished that we didn’t pay him anything now. By now a crowd had formed around us with some Chinese people from the nearby stalls trying to explain that the driver was saying that if we paid ¥180 he’d leave us alone. Another taxi pulled up with a white couple inside and the driver was doing the exact same thing to them! They’d agreed to pay ¥300 and the driver was demanding ¥450! By now we knew that it was a complete scam and just walked away, leaving our taxi driver fuming by his car.
Situations like this make me so sceptical of the world because it shows how deceitful some of the people are…
The Terracotta Warriors
Once safely away from the taxi driver we bought our entry tickets (¥120- student cards are only valid for Chinese students) and entered the site. We had to walk through the grounds first which took about 5 minutes but people still queued to take a golf buggy…
Once we got to the first site of the terracotta warriors the chaos at the beginning was totally worth it!
We did the tour backwards (3,2,1) as was recommended in the lonely planet guide and we’re really glad that we did! Site 3 was by far the smallest and least impressive but because it was the first one we saw we were really impressed. The second site was even better that site 3 and the Terracotta Army displayed in site 1 was incredible!The statues in site 1 had so much detail on them it was crazy to fathom how much skilled man power it must’ve taken to create! 2000 warriors in the one room alongside their horses, ready for battle!
The tomb of Qin Shi Huang – who commissioned the creation of the terracotta warrior army- is supposedly buried 2.5km away so we jumped on the free bus for the 10 minute journey. It was pretty disappointing compared to the grandeur of what we’d just seen.
There wasn’t really anything there to see except a stone pillar on top of a mount which is supposedly the top of the tomb (inaccessible due to the apparent vast amounts of mercury detected – the story goes that Qin Shi Huang died of mercury poisoning, after ingesting it thinking that it was the elixir of life). The bus journey wasn’t a complete waste though because Leah and I both got to try a pea ice lolly we’d been considering for a few weeks. It literally tasted like sweet mushy peas!
People problems today
Our Trip to the terracotta warriors today was tarred by some not very nice people. At first it was the taxi driver trying to charge us almost double for the fare. A women on a fruit stall outside the site tried to charge me ¥5 for a ¥2 Apple once I insisted it was weighed. We got the green bus back to Xi’an afterwards – we didn’t want to risk another taxi driver- and tried to get in a tuk tuk from the train station. The tuk tuk wanted ¥50 from us for a ¥12 taxi journey! Then we tried a taxi who refused to put on the meter and wanted to charge us ¥30! Our opinion of the human population in Xi’an was seriously being tested today, everyone seemed out to exploit and take advantage of us – things that we haven’t experienced in the rest of China!
Great Green noodles
We walked to the Chinese food street for dinner tonight – giving ourselves a break from the hecticness of the Muslim quarter- and got to try freshly made spinach noodles!
We saw green noodles being made in the window of a restaurant and stopped by to watch the chef work. The restaurant was really busy! We guessed that the food must’ve been good so we went inside to look at the menu- there were pictures and some of the menu was in English! There weren’t any free tables left so the waitress seated us next to a guy eating alone and we’re so glad that she did! He was so nice! He even restored our opinion of people from Xi’an!
He helped us order the spinach noodles (mine without meat, Leah’s with it) with aubergines and green beans to share. He also told us lots about the local area and gave us tips on what to do as well as what local dishes he thought that we should try. He even bought us a fizzy orange drink to try which was local in the area and offered to drive us around site seeing for the evening!
Unfortunately our London brains were in motion so we refused the drive but said thank you for the rest. It was really nice for him to offer but when it’s just two girls in a foreign country we get a little cautious of people at night…