Going for Terracotta Soldiers – and Discovering a City

When friends and I decided to go to China for 10 days, it was a totally clean sheet of paper in terms of what we wanted to do.  BeijingXi’anShanghaiInner Mongolia?  Lots of choices and not enough time (is there ever?).  We knew we would be in Hong Kong pre- and post- China visit as we were going to visit a common friend.  So we looked at the map and tried to figure out what would be reasonable given the amount of time and distances to cover…

The Terracotta Soldiers

At some point we decided Xi’an, with its famous terracotta soldiers HAD to be in the itinerary.  I mean, we can see the soldiers “on tour” as they are shown in museums around the world at different times – but nothing better than going to the actual site since we were already going to be in China. Shanghai and Beijing are big cities, always there for a potential business trip (should I be with the right company!).  And a big city is, after all, a big city… (more true of Shanghai than Beijing, I am sure).  But Xi’an?  Unlikely work will take me there (unless I pursue an Indiana Jones career…).

Terracotta Soldier in Xi'an, China (Xian)

So, off we went.  Of course, driving out to see the place where the soldiers were unearthed was pretty cool.  You could visualize how it was found by a farmer.  While the site itself had grown a large structure to protect to digs (the real dig:  where they have been and will be continued to be unearthed some day), there was still enough undeveloped land (this was a few years ago!).

Terracotta soldier and horses in Xi'an, China (Xian)

As you may know, the soldiers, when first unearthed, are colored but the color quickly disintegrates (or whatever the technical term is!) so they have stopped digging them up until technology has evolved enough to be able to preserve the coat of colors.  You may also know that each soldier is different.  I don’t mean in pose or attire but their actual faces.  How impressive is that?  We saw some being repaired as some broke as they were buried.

Terracotta soldier under repair in Xi'an, China (Xian)

What I Really Liked about Xi’an?

While the soldiers are the headline, Xi’an is like many other places in the world:  there are other awesome sights and experiences to be had besides the “headliner”.  The city walls are massive and impressive.  A walk around them is a must to appreciate the town.  Just look at the width of the top of the wall!  China does walls well.

Xi'an - City Wall in Xian China on a gray day

But Xi’an is more than the soldiers and the city walls.  I encourage you to explore the city, more than we got to do with our limited time.  It felt VERY different than monstrous and dysfunctional Beijing.  Xi’an came across as a city I would WANT TO live in!

Xi'an - View from City Wall in Xian, China

Xi'an - Pagoda by City Wall in Xian, China

Our last day ended with us losing our car to take us to the airport after visiting a temple site and we had to scramble to find a car to take us to the airport.  It was not easy where we were and we were tugging my friends’ 3-yr old in her stroller – which proved to be why someone finally took pity on us to help us find a car to get to the airport!  A story I will never forget!

Xi'an - Traffic at an intersection in Xian, China




  1. I have visited Beijing and Shanghai, but did not get a chance to visit the warriors. I guess this will just be a reason to go back!

    • It will be a good excuse to return indeed. China has so much to be seen! I personally want to go out west (Xinjiang) and southwest (Tibet). Someday…

  2. I love all of these pictures. The Terracotta Warriors are on my bucket list, but your pictures of Xi’an are getting me excited about going on day in general. I have to admit, China is pretty low on my list of countries to visit, but this is making me see why I should move it up!
    The World Wanderer recently posted..Adventures at Home Series. [VIDEO]My Profile

  3. I’ve heard great things about Xi’an – sounds like a great Chinese city to spend some time in. And if work ever takes you to Beijing or Shanghai and you need a good consultant to help out….:)
    John recently posted..Visiting Chicago, Illinois: The Local’s Take with Pola of ‘Jetting Around’My Profile

  4. I went to China and visited Beijing and Shanghai – but all means, a tiny bit of the country. But would have really would have like to see this 🙁
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted..On the trail of Turin’s Contemporary Art by @globalgrasshoprMy Profile

  5. GAH! I really want to visit China. Chris has been before and wasn’t too impressed, but I’d like to go back with him and see if we can change his mind. The Terracotta Warriors are at the top of my China bucket list.
    Tawny of Captain and Clark recently posted..Stocking Stuffers for the Avid TravelerMy Profile

    • You know, I don’t speak as highly about other places in China so I understand where Chris may be coming from. Xi’an was just “real” and had this great story with the warriors and the unique city wall.

  6. Damn, I don’t care for China, but I really want to see these soldiers. I’m in quite the dilemma, Raul.
    Leah Travels recently posted..It Rained the Day I Left ParisMy Profile

    • Leah, I hear ya. China overall did not grab me like so many other places. Maybe someday you can fly in for the day on your own private jet!

  7. Wow…I had no idea the soldiers were painted and the color faded off. That’s kind of sad, but on the other hand, what good are they doing underground?
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..Souvenirs From Wine Country – How To Bring Home The Good StuffMy Profile

  8. Oh wow, those walls ARE impressive. And seeing the warriors would be nice I’m sure – and I agree, not the same as the on tour version.
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Photo of the Week: Tendillas Square in Córdoba, SpainMy Profile

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