Robin's Adventures

An Asian Adventure

Typical Home in the Hutong

We were invited into a typical home in the hutong. The house was small and had few amenities. The bathroom with showers and Chinese style toilets (a hole in the floor that you squat over) were centrally located in the hutong and shared by all of the residents. There is no heating or air conditioning and the home was shared by several people.


After a short flight that was just over an hour, we arrived in Xian. We stayed in the Sofitel People's Grand Hotel. You know you are in a fancy hotel when there is a TV embedded in the bathroom mirror and when gas masks are provided for emergency use.

Xian City Wall

The city wall located in Xian, which was first built in the Ming dynasty during the 14th century, is one of the oldest and best preserved city walls in China today.

The wall, which is almost 9 miles long, was built with a moat and drawbridges as well as numerous watchtowers and an archery tower.

Notice that the archery tower is elevated and has numerous windows in order to give the archers a strategic advantage while protecting the city.

Yangling Museum

The Yangling Museum is the site of the tombs of Chinese emperor Liu Qi and his spouse, Empress Wang. The museum contains 86 pits of excavated burial objects, such as pottery, clay figurines and animals, weapons, and common household items.

More Yangling Museum

The excavation at the Yangling Museum unearthed an incredible number of pottery figures that had no arms and no clothes. The faces of the figures are very vivid and natural, but the wooden arms and the cloth of the clothing decayed over time and no longer remain.

Power Plants and Electrical Wires

The major energy source in China is coal and the West Power Station in Xian, seen here, burns coal to generate electricity. Air quality is very poor and a recent study estimated that 750,000 people per year die as a result of air pollution.

We also noted the interesting tangle of electrical wires throughout China. It is good that so many homes and businesses now have electricity, but the consequence is diminished safety, questionable efficiency, and an esthetic nightmare created by the chaotic mess of the electrical lines.

Terracotta Warriors

The terracotta warriors, which were discovered in 1974 by farmers attempting to dig a well, are part of the tomb of Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang. The purpose of the soldiers was to protect the emperor, buried in 209-210 BCE, during the afterlife.

Although the excavation is not yet complete, it is estimated that there are more than 8,000 soldiers, about 130 chariots, and almost 700 horses.

More Terracotta Warriors

Although the warriors are life-sized, they vary in both height and appearance. Not only do the warriors have different facial features, but also different uniforms and hair styles relating to their rank and military function. Originally the figures were brightly painted and coated with lacquer, but this has flaked off and faded over the years.

It is believed that there were 10 basic face molds used and then clay was added to each face to form the individual features. It appears that the appendages, such as arms, legs, and the head, were produced separately and then the warriors were assembled and placed in a precise military formation.

Still More Terracotta Warriors

There are four main pits that are just over twenty feet deep. Each pit is covered by a building that provides protection from the elements.

Pit one is the most impressive and it contains the main army about 2,000 of which are on display. The pit, which is about 750 feet long and just over 200 feet wide, is covered by a building that is roughly the size of a large airplane hanger. Walkways around the periphery provide excellent views of the terracotta figures neatly lined up with military precision.

Terracotta Warriors Up Close

The detail work that went into the creation of the terracotta warriors is very noticeable. Each warrior has different facial features, hair styles, and clothing depending on their rank and military function.

Generals wear two layers of robes with square-toed shoes that curve upwards at the front. Armored warriors wear heavily armored capes. Cavalrymen wear light body armor with pillbox hats and neck scarves. Chariot drivers have outstretched arms to hold the reigns and wear helmets to protect their heads.