Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Last Day in China

I booked a round-the-world ticket, but the travel agent convinced me to pay extra for a return flight.

Beijing is an amazing city of beauty and wonder and mystery. China in itself as a majestic place at its best but filled with horrible things we do not see. There's another side I'd like to experience if I ever do go here permanently, for a job. From this point on I decided I'd love to work in China, so I could experience all its diversity - from the tropical south; the coastal cities of the east; the icy wastes of the north and the deserts of the west: China is a place of diversity, of which I got to experience so little. Returning to New Zealand, I set about finding a teaching job with Chinese institutions, but not feeling comfortable with coming in again illegally, I decided to hold this plan off until the day I graduate.

It was sad to say goodbye to the friends we had made. We had formed such a bond with China and its culture. The streets and locations brimmed with so much life that they seemed to be living things themselves. With sadness we gave a final 再見,中国! before boarding the plane, waving goodbye through the window at the awesomeness beyond.

Monday, 4 August 2014

The Terracotta Warriors

Our guide explained to us that the Terracotta Warriors were approximately 2,250 years old.  The Chinese are prone to exaggerating numbers - the year is only 2014.

We knew this would be our last attractions in China, and it would be one of the oldest. The mighty terracotta armies of Shi Huangdi - the first emperor. We had seen these figures all around Xi'an, and we would finally see the real thing. Traveling by taxi to the excavation site, we bought our tickets from the booth. The lady asked if we were students - I technically was, as I was learning Chinese by home correspondence, so I was given a discount. Asking us if we wanted a guide, we accepted. She left the booth and became our guide. She helped us learn a lot about the history of the region, the emperor and the site. We also talked about the significance of jade, which was very apparent around Xi'an, and its New Zealand counterpart - Greenstone. In both cultures it is a symbol of nobility. It is elegant, without being too ornate. Its sophistication lies in its simplicity.

Experiencing the who site is a gruelling journey, especially during a busy day. Despite being in a very large hangar, we were drowning in sweat from the endless torrents of bustling people. The guide certainly made the experience more interesting - we at least had an idea of what we were looking at. At the gift shop was a farmer, signing books at a stand that claimed he was of the last surviving farmers who discovered the warriors. There are talks of fakes, pretending to be one of the originals, bearing 'no photography' signs above them, but this one let us take a photo (65), so I do not know if he is the real deal or not.