China – part 10 (of 20)

We could have flown Beijing to Xi’an for cheaper, but why give up an opportunity to travel by high speed train, at an average speed of 292 km/h. Glad we did – a smooth ride! We paid a little more to travel first class. In a land with many people, any opportunity for some peace and quietness, is worth the money.

From the sky, we would not have witnesses the incredible construction site that is northern China. A few years ago, they said that 80% of the world’s cranes are in Dubai – this is certainly no longer the case. Every few kilometers there are countless blocks of flats standing empty – guess it is a case of ‘build it and they will come’.

A farmer accidentally discovered the Terracotta Soldiers’ site in 1974, while digging for a well. Today there are 3 pits – partially excavated. Once uncovered, the clay oxidizes in 24 hours and loses all color, hence why they all look the same.


Emperor Qin commission the construction of the mausoleum complex around 246BC. It took 11 years to complete. The army was to escort and protect him in the afterlife and consist of different ranking soldiers and officials (arranged according to duty and rank –  as found), along even with horses. I supposed he never anticipated that the roof will collapse, crushing his army on the spot. Possibly bad for him, but an exceptional find for archeology. As they excavate, the merely need to find the puzzle pieces to construct the soldiers again … there are no missing pieces. However, in cases of severe pulverization, the historians will construct what they can.

In the tourist trap … eh, giftshop, at the end of the Terracotta tour, sits a man claiming to be the Mr. Yang who made the discovery 4 decades ago. Somehow to authenticate him, there is a big poster on the wall with his face on it. If you buy a photobook, he is willing to sign it for you …

part 10 02

Please forgive me, but when it comes to tourists and trinkets, these Chinese are entrepreneurial opportunists. We speculated that the man and poster gets replaced daily, but figured it is such a sweet gesture that we might as well fall for the trick, just in case he is the real deal. He looks old enough all right.

part 10 01

Continue China – part 11 (of 20).