So I think I’ll blame the fact that my eyes are constantly a little sore on the air ’round these parts. Didn’t even bring my contacts, and even when not tired, it’s been less than optimal.
By North American standards, China is a dirty place. The air is a nightmare for asthmatics, especially during the summer. No big surprise, of course. Developing countries (so termed by whatever higher-up international organization, whether you agree or not) tend to have a high energy usage, especially in the less friendly kinds. In China, I think coal is still pretty much all the rage. ‘Neways, the air isn’t so great. Apparently, the misty look outside is just fog, but even so, it’s not the happiest looking fog. Visibility, of course, is way down (as you’ll see in the pictures when I get them uploaded to wherever sometime later), though probably not as bad as Heathrow, according to CNN.
The water isn’t so great, either. Tip: don’t… drink… the water… good for washing your hands, taking a shower, and whatever else. Really bad for drinking and brushing your teeth. It struck me as a little surprising, since I had never left NA except for to China, though from reports, Mexico and other places are similar. Then again, even in the US, bottled water is a lot more popular than I can possibly understand, so apparently some have adapted towards not drinking tap water.
Enough on that. About the day:
Batman and Robin came to pick us up in the morning. I must give them a lot of credit: as soon as we’d leave somewhere, they’d have pulled up and gotten the door open before we had even seen them. I can’t imagine that waiting is the most amusing, and if they’re waiting, watching, that’s pretty hard-core. But the rant about the job market was in the last post.
Our first stop was a statue thingie dedicated to the monk from the story “Journey to the West”. If you don’t know about it, wiki it. It’s fairly well-known outside of China, with a lot of adaptations and such. Synopsis: a monk starts in Xi’an, goes to India to get some Buddhist texts, is protected by some dudes, most importantly the Monkey King, and comes back. Exciting, eh? Well, it’s a lot better in its non-abridged version. Regardless, they had a nice statue of him, and the pagoda supposedly built when he came back, the latter of which we didn’t visit due to the entrance fee (we’ve seen quite a few pagodas; seen one…) Short diversion, with content to match.
The next stop was a veritable mother lode for AD stuff for me. We happened to the Shaanxi Historical Museum, where I got a look and some of the stuff going back to the Neolithic times. For most of you, it probably means nothing, but a surprisingly high amount of stuff actually directly corresponded to stuff we’re doing in AD, so some nice photos and remarks will make their way into the ppt. Unfortunately, it was a history museum, not the art museum (which we passed), so it really only hit on the burial stuff and the functional art, and not as much the painting and calligraphy. Well, can’t be perfect.
Next came the Xi’an city wall, which they apparently make you pay to stand up on. Not really that exciting, but a nice sight-seeing diversion. My family managed to prove its brilliance as we couldn’t figure out which side was inside and outside of the city (they’ve built a lot on either side), though honestly, I ended up being wrong. Go me and not actually looking at the wall for the crenellation, or using any good logic.
After that the tomb for the Western Han emperor, Liu Qi. Apparently one of the other big attractions, the museum part was kind of lame, and built it up to suck. The actual dig itself, though, was pretty incredible. If you remember (or care to scroll), I mentioned that the terracotta site wasn’t particularly attractive to tourists, being out in the open air and not designed for optimal viewing. Well, this one is totally different. Going to the site, first, it’s “underground”. From what I got, they basically buried him and put him in a giant mound of dirt (almost hill-like, though a bit more pyramid than natural) with all of his stuff. Instead of terracotta soldiers, though, he had little guys, who didn’t have any clothes or armor. Or arms. Apparently they made the first two out of rotted-away textiles, and the last out of wood. Beats me. Though it’s kind of funny to see sub-50 cm soldiers with no arms. I guess they were the forerunners of fly-weight kick boxing.
Well, this one was nicely fitted with a full museum-like design. They even made us put on shoe-coverings to maintain the pristine state of it. Well, everything real was encased in glass (unlike the just open-air terracotta one), but the entire dig site was there. Behind glass. Temperature was regulated, which was cool, but it gets better. Not only could you see it, you could walk over it. They had one of those glass floors, so you could walk right over the stuff and look down into the tomb. Kinda scary, but really awesome. After that, they had dug down to the same level as the stuff, so you could look across at the dig stuff, right behind the glass. Really nifty. But you can really only see the midget army so many times before it gets old.
After that, we went back to the airport, from where we flew back to Beijing. Not bad for 2 1/2 days of sight-seeing.
It’s late, I’m kind of tired, so that’s pretty much it. More later, I guess.