Written by Howard Yeung
Today, DISCOVER 2013 charged forward by visiting one of the most well-known cultural sites in China, the Terra Cotta Army. After a scrumptious breakfast at the Grand Noble Hotel, which included personal favorites such as dragon fruit, chickpea and bean salad and nicely seasoned teriyaki chicken, the group tore themselves away from the strong hotel wifi signal for the hour long drive to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the bus, as I was preparing for my presentation to the group, Rose, our local tour guide, began talking about the Terra Cotta Army. Of course, she highlighted many of the key points I wanted to talk to, thereby killing my vibe to an extent, but I did my best to fill in any gaps I thought she had missed. Members of the group also complimented me for my efforts, which I really appreciated!
When we got there, we first visited the gift shop, where the farmer who had first discovered the Terra Cotta Army was available for a book signing. I thought this was an extremely cool souvenir and bought it without much thought, as did many members of the group. We then proceeded to watch a short film and moved to the first pit, where we first saw a glimpse of the famous statues. The venue was very crowded, but we were able to get some good shots by imposing ourselves and making sure we were protective of our space. A really interesting fact here is that we found our “doppelgangers” here, a group of youths who wore similar looking red shirts from the Beijing Normal University – we deduced that we were the abnormal group.
As we moved from pit one to bronze museum, I felt the group became more interested in purchasing the souvenirs than visiting the exhibits. This may have been due to the large number of people crowding each display. What was also frustrating was that at the bronze museum, there was a second farmer signing books, and he was unwilling to sign the book the group first purchased! Personally, had I known that if there was more than one farmer signing available, I may not have purchased it…the group also talked about how there may be additional farmer book signings as Rose mentioned there were four farmers. This became a point of amusement for the group as we searched for farmers as we moved from the bronze museum to pit two and from pit two to pit three. While we saw a third farmer signing books, until the end, we were unable to find the elusive fourth farmer.
After visiting all the pits, we made our way to lunch, where the group was ecstatic to know we’d be eating noodles and not one of our standard cookie cutter lunches. While I believe the general consensus was that the food was good, what was particularly interesting is that Wendy noticed one of our high school teachers was there! I mean, what are the odds of being in the same country, in the same city, in the same restaurant at the same time! Regardless, after an initial awkward encounter, we chatted for a bit and even took a picture to remember such a serendipitous occasion. Before leaving, we also tried some 50% wines – in particular, a contingent of us tried pomegranate wine thinking it’d be great, but the general impression here is that it was gross.