Location: Xi'an, China
After a long and fun train ride to XiAn, we were greeted by our great, charismatic tour guide, Daniel. Unfortunately, we were all sleep deprived so Daniel kindly let us nap for a couple of hours before we started the tour. Our first stop was to the Terracotta factory, where they make replicas of the Terracotta Army soldiers. The artisans use the same clay and ovens from hundreds of years ago to keep the replicas authentic. Afterward, we went to see the original Terracotta army. They are so much more impressive in person than captured in pictures. Daniel also told us some interesting facts like after hundreds of years, traps made to keep out intruders are still working today, the statues hairstyles are based on their rank in the army, and every statue face is unique.
Also, the emperor tomb is still a mystery. It cannot be opened since he created a lake of mercury around his tomb, which will suffocate any intruder with poisonous fumes. Then the group went to the Xian Provence Museum, which was full of many amazing artifacts unique to China, including the first remnants of paper. We then all enjoyed a great dinner at Pizza Hut. After dinner, we decided to walk around the city at night. The city at night is very beautiful with neon signs, vibrant colors and huge, classic Chinese temples all lit up. While walking, we joined a crowd watching street performers sing American pop. Our entire group sang along, and some brave souls danced. The next day we woke up extra early to have a Starbucks coffee to get pumped for our nine-mile bike ride along the Xian city wall. Some members of the group rode Tandem bikes (two seat bikes), and we all raced along the wall. Proud to say I was one of the first to finish along with my awesome partner Pablo. Then we went to the Muslim market. Every street is jam-packed with different stores selling various trinkets. Our group picked up great bargaining skills with street vendors. Our strategy was to demand 40% of the original price and when the vendor refused to walk away. Normally the vendor would call us back and be willing to bargain and start at 40% of the original price.
After everyone bought some nice souvenirs, we packed up and went back on the night train. The night train was a lot of fun because the group had a great chance to bond. We took night selfies, played music and planned a flash mob with the song Happy by Pharell for the morning. Our flash mob was a great success until the police showed up. (Just Kidding) In actuality, the security guard just told us that we couldn’t sing and dance in this public area. We are back now and although we had a great trip, we are all very excited to get back to the kids. It has only been two days but we all really miss them.