Chinese Buffet is a month-long series that chronicles the travels of an American woman who visited China for the first time in July 2007.
After a filling breakfast at the Hyatt’s massive buffet, we piled in the car with Bob and headed out for another full day of sightseeing. The Banpo Museum is on the eastern outskirts of the city, along the way towards the Terracotta Warriors. It is the excavated site of an ancient neolithic village that dates to 4500 BC, over 6,000 years ago!
A golf cart was our next mode of transport. The Terracotta Army complex of excavated pits is quite far from the parking lot, so we decided to splurge on the round-trip golf cart ride that stops directly in front of the actual museum entrance. A visit to the Terracotta Army costs 90 RMB (about $12 bucks) and the golf cart was an additional six yuan — no big expense.
I’m jumping ahead here for a moment…
After spending several hours walking around the warrior museum, we boarded another golf cart for our ride back to the parking lot. But the return trip only goes a short distance, before passengers are asked to disembark and walk through a huge new pedestrian shopping strip lined with vendors hawking souvenirs. For some reason this really bugged me:
I can’t say I was surprised to see this commercialized exit extravaganza, but I was irked that we were forced to walk through it. We thought we had paid for a ride back to the parking lot…which would have been nice, especially for a four-year-old and his pregnant mommy!
But I digress…
The actual viewing of the warriors was wonderful, so let me get back to that.
This grand army of stone statues was discovered in 1974 by peasants who were digging a well in a field. They uncovered the burial grounds of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, a now famous World Heritage site. There are three main pits and we spent about two hours moving through them. The first building, essentially an airplane hangar, houses the most impressive collection of the life-size soldiers and horses. There are more than 1,000 figures, and amazingly, only one fifth of this site has been excavated:
Bob next offered to take us to the actual tomb of Qin Shi Huang, located just a short ride from the Terracotta Museum. But we decided to pass, since we’d read that it’s just an artificial hill with not much else to see. We ate our lunch in the car as he drove us to our final stop, the Huaqing Pool:
The hot springs and imperial bathhouses located at the foot of Lishan Mountain were very popular with the emperors, who would spend the winters here keeping warm. There is a lift that goes to the top of the mountain, but there would not have been much to see on such a hazy afternoon. We got a kick out of the restrooms, formerly the site of the Imperial Toilet:
We took another golf cart here, because, well….we were exhausted: