Its all about me!!
19.09.2007 26 °C
The Terracotta Warriors are amazing. I am so glad that we followed the Lonely Planet (LP) advice and saw the short film then viewed the Pits from 3 - 1. Pit 3 gave us a small taster of what to expect. It was the smallest of the pits and contained about 70 warriors and horses, most warriors were without heads though. Pit 3 contained most of the senior ranking officers. Pit 2 was huge but most of it is still being excavated. You could see the structure of the pits and the roof beams, They approximated that there are about 1500 warriors and horses in this area. Pit 1 is humongous!!! It is 11 rows of soldiers about 6000 of them and horses all facing in one direction except for the outside row that face outwards to protect the rest of the troops. Each warrior is life size and was built to protect an Emperor in his afterlife. The whole thing took nearly 40 years to make and is 56 square km big including the Emperors tomb. Wow! That is one big Mausoleum and one big ego!! Each soldier was made from a cast out of clay, baked and then painted. Each one is completely individual and it is just fascinating. We took binoculars which was great and we were able to see the details, the expressions on their faces, the way the hair was plaited the folds in their armor - just incredible. We spent most of the day there and it just did not feel like it at all.
Of course I managed to get myself into a situation - again! What is it with me? Do I have a sign on my forehead saying "Hey you over there, yes you, I'm over here, I'm a tourist and I am looking for trouble - come and get me...."? Everywhere you go there are people trying to sell you their wares; postcards, nicknacks and statues. This one kid could speak quite good English and was trying to sell me a set of Terracotta Warriors. I kept telling him that I wasn't interested but he kept showing them to me and telling me that they were good quality and banging them together. There were about 5 little statues, cheap and cheerful but I did want to get something like that so I made the fatal mistake and hesitated and asked him again how much for them. His price kept getting lower and lower until it was ridiculous so I agreed. I gave him the money and as I went to take the box he said, "Which one do you want?" Hang on a minute this is a bit cheeky - I have a feeling I have been had. I said "No, price paid for all" again he said "Which one? Horse, archer, general?" so I again told him "No, for all" I had hold of the box so took it and started walking away. This kid was really starting to get in my face now - what a cheeky little bugger, I wasn't having any of his scam. I asked him to go away but he started to shout at me and the situation was getting ugly, and to be honest I was getting a bit scared so I started to shout "NO, NO, BAD, BAD!!!" still he was right in my face so I stated to run away, he was running after me waving money. I actually ran up to this guard and pointed at the kid and said "Can you stop him?" I have no idea if the guard understood but I am sure by all of the commotion he knew something was going on. Thank goodness he was stopped. Paul, Frederik and Eline were in stitches, laughing at how I always manage to get myself into situations. I spent the rest of the day hiding my face and expected the guy to be waiting for me at the Exit. In hindsight I should have just given him some more money at we are not talking about big bucks here but it was more about the principle and I wasn't going to let him get away with that scam - cheeky little bugger!!!
The next day we had the intention to walk the city wall, do half of it round to the Bell Tower where the international post office is and then to do the rest of the wall and get off at the Mosque. We got to the wall and found out that you have to pay (obviously!! we ARE in China) and not only that but we would need to pay twice. Sod that!! So we went to the Post Office anyway and watched this guy make boxes for our stuff which was quite interesting actually and then we go to another counter and get the forms to fill in and then to another to be weighed and sent. The bloody stuff we bought cost no money at all and the postage about 3 times the value of what was inside the boxes and that is even with them being sent by boat!!! That's it, we are not buying any more crap!! Yeah right. Once that was done we were off to the mosque. It took us about 3 hours to get there through winding alleys filled with market stalls. The stalls were awesome. Think of any designer or named brand item and you can get it here. This one stall had a couple of wallets that I was looking at and the woman said "Ah, what brand you like? Chanel, Louis Vuitton...?" "Gucci?" "Gucci! Come here!" and she pulls me into this room behind a curtain and it is stuffed from wall to ceiling with designer handbags and fake watches, blimey. I had a good look but the trouble is they look well made enough bu I am not rich enough to have a real Gucci and have no idea if the copies are that good. Cough, cough, not that I am condoning that sort of thing of course :0)
As you know our family LUUUURRRVVEESSSSS a bargain (don't worry mum I wont mention the red stickers or the charity shops) and I tend to get caught up in the whole game of the bargain. Sometimes I wish you could just say, how much is that? and have a fixed price and know that you are not getting ripped off. The trouble is even after you have spent a while haggling over something and agreeing on a price you are still probably getting ripped off. The question you have to ask yourself is "Am I happy to pay that price?" If yes buy it. If no, you have to walk away. They can get a bit feisty though. Usually I ask how much and if it is ridiculously priced I wont even go into a haggle as you can usually get the item for half the starting price (and they are still probably getting a good profit). If you offer and then they counter offer but don't budge much then I will not get into the bartering. If however you really get into the bartering then you need to follow through with the purchase. You cant haggle for 5 mins and then walk away, bad haggling etiquette I did come away with a good jacket, I was looking for a rain coat and I got one with an added fleece. It is quite light but a bit bulky. I have with great effort squashed it into the compression bag that we had (which Paul is carrying - good man). The woman I was haggling with was a good seller, and it really is a game. She compliments me on how clever I am, I complement her on what a good seller she is and so the game continues. She said Paul is like a Buddha (and to be honest that is not the first time I have heard that) she said that he is always happy and loves me a lot. Sweet, and he is my lovely little Buddha :0) We didn't make it to the mosque in the end either.
Today is my birthday and it has been a bit of a strange one. While we were at the markets we came across a dress making shop and this one dress caught my eye. Paul was looking for something to buy me for my birthday (even though we had agreed no presents this year) so after again haggling a good price I was measured up and said I could pick up my dress at 4pm today. I went to pick it up and they don't have the material that I chose. I was going to wear the dress out to dinner tonight and we even picked up a cheapy shirt for Paul. I was a bit disappointed but we did agree on different material and they said they would drop it off by 10pm tonight!! I hope so, I don't know what we will do if they don't, we have to leave at 6am so don't really have time to work it out - lets not get into another situation before it has happened - I am sure everything will be fine. Anyway dinner is postponed until Lhasa and to be honest I quite like the sound of celebrating my birthday in Tibet :0)
The hostel today has been great - free internet for the day (thats why I am catching up on the blog) AND they bought me a bunch of flowers. 24 red roses and an oriental lily in the top to be exact. I did not expect that at all. Amazing. They have been really lovely and I would definitely recommend anyone that is saying in Xian to stay at the 7 sages hostel - its brill.