Visit the Terra Cotta Army, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. View the thousands of soldiers, archers, horses and chariots that were buried with the Emperor Qin Shi Huang more than 2,000 years ago.
Fly to Beijing.
For both Gerry and me, the Terracotta Army was a highlight of the trip. Caron had visited the site when she was in China so we had enjoyed her pictures, and Gerry was delighted by the replica set she brought to him. Also, with Caron, we saw some of the traveling display when it was in Washington, DC. There is no comparison, however, to seeing the massive display in person. It is close to preposterous that they were created for Qin Shi Huang, first Emperor of China, about 210 B.C., and subsequently discovered in 1974 by members of the Yang family, who are farmers in the area, while they were digging a water well. Also preposterous is the fact that these farmers received only a token amount for the discovery. Ain't Communism grand. Imagine the same scenario in America. Only one of the discoverers is still alive; he was autographing books when we were there. With this, the Great Wall, Versailles, pyramids, and many untold number of other historical structures, I am overwhelmed by the total disregard for human lives by tyrannies around the world. I try to find value in these works, but I never seem to quiet my revulsion of these evil men.
When we arrived in Beijing, our terrific tour guide, Shan Shan, directed our bus driver to detour through the Olympic venues. The bird's nest was a fascinating structure. I found it interesting that huge tracts of the city had been cleared for many of these venues. Sadly, we were told that the Olympic tennis facility was being razed. Given that they are covering every possible foot of land with high rise apartments, I can only assume they will do the same at this site. Recreational facilities for the masses does not seem to have the same priority in China as in the USA.
Before checking into our hotel, we were taken directly to dinner. When the bus pulled up to a Comfort Inn, I experienced a feeling of concern. Mind you, in the US, I frequently stay at Comfort Inn hotels; however, seeking fine dining at Comfort Inn has never crossed my mind. Sure enough, there was a consensus that this was one of the worst meals we were served in China. Since our lunch had been quite good in Xian at what Shan Shan called a "Mom and Pop" restaurant, I took the attitude that my digestive system would benefit from the rest. The Westin Hotel was so inviting that it is near impossible to be in a funk....although, to be honest, there were some divas throughout our trip that still found things about which to complain. Bless these guides, I would not have their job for all the tea in China....sorry, just had to use that.