5, 6, 7, 8
Rompin', stompin', pumpin', jumpin', slidin', glidin',
Here we go.
I’M SO SORRY.
It just had to be done. There were so many STEPS.
So, you’ll soon learn (if you haven’t already) that almost every mountain in China is holy in some way or another. I think mountains in general have that ethereal thing going on. The UK doesn’t seem to get it. Probably ‘cause they’re always more on the hill side than the never-ending sweat and tears side of the spectrum. Although I'm pretty sure I've had a cry/tantrum at some point in my life for not wanting to walk up a hill in the rain before.
Anyway, this particular mountain we spent the day climbing up was probably the inspo behind the Stairmaster original. It was called HuaShan.
It was amazing.
There were several options on how to hike up this. The first was out of the question, as you needed to get up at 4am which would leave you only just enough time to get up and around all the peaks before the sun set.
Almost everyone in the group opted to do the most expensive option that also included the ‘death walk’. This was essentially a plank of wood nailed into a sheer rock face so that people could walk across it only supported by a single piece of rope and the safety of an old Chinese bloke’s knot skills. An easy Daily Mail headliner if it went south.
I took the third option which involved a hell of a lot more exercise than it did proverbial balls.
I was accompanied by Susanna (who you’ve already met), and Nick – who was a 17-year-old slash uni student slash smoker who announced he had done no voluntary exercise since primary school.
Our choice allowed us to view every peak along the way as well as all the Buddhist temples hiding in the mountain’s nooks and crannies.
We got the cable car up to the North Peak at 1615m and then walked through the Jinsuo Pass to the Centre Peak at 2042m.
Passing through the east, south and then west peaks we finished at North Peak to get the gondola down again.
According to my iPhone, that was about 12km worth of walking. Pretty impressive eh. The sights weren’t bad either.
Yep, still climbing.
The next day led to some extremely sore legs being dragged around, yep, the TERRACOTTA WARRIORS. We were allocated a super intelligent guide who specifically stopped us at the weirdest spots which were apparently the 'best for photographs'. They were so good you couldn't actually see anything.
I ended up taking panos of the tourists over the railings because there were just too many. Everyone was here for a photograph. Don't get me wrong I love a good photo, but when you're somewhere with so much historical weight and vast intensity, don't you want a proper chance to look? We’ve covered that I think in a previous post…
There are three bunkers worth of these guys. We were taken around from the smallest bunker to the largest, which Lonely Planet suggests is the best way to build up excitement.
So once again, I’ve got some super cool facts for you to impress your mum with.
There are approximately 8 bloody thousand of these guys that have been dug up.
8,000 before the government realised they wanted to stop digging them up and maybe should think about things for a minute.
The warriors were found by a bunch of farmers on the 29th March 1974 (high-five for timing, that’s almost exactly 44 years ago) when they were drilling for a well in the middle of a field. They were given a small ‘thanks very much’ fee by the government of something that equated to a fiver. To put that in perspective, 2005 recorded an income of a cheeky £17,016,042 just from ticket sales.
Rumour has it these farmers were so good for business that they were forced to stay on the excavation site: the general public wanted to see them and get the guys to sign books and have their photos taken. There’s still one poor chap there today – Mr. Yang –who is apparently blinded by all the flashing from the press cameras. He is made to sit next to a pile of books and sign them if you want one, but strictly no photographing.
Annnyway, they stopped digging because 1. Mercury and 2. Colour preservation.
1. Quin Shi Huang (who ordered this whole thing) wanted to become immortal. His physicians suggested that to do so, he would – sip/inhale/whatever the cool kids did back then – a little bit of mercury every day so that he would become immune to it and therefore immortal. So he did, and eventually (spoiler alert) – as mercury is a stunningly effective poison – it killed him. The people digging now think that his tomb and body is nesting on a bed of mercury and so will not dig it up because it could potentially poison everyone in Xi’an. That’s their first excuse.
Side note – all this information is Chinese approved, so may or may not be accurate.
2. The second reason they have stopped digging is because of the colour preservation. They are willing to wait until we have a method to extract these warriors from the ground without the colours fading immediately. According to my sources, it takes anywhere from 15 seconds to 4 minutes for this colour to completely fade once dug up. For the past 20 years Chinese researchers have been collaborating with German scholars on preservation methods so think we may be waiting a while.
Anyway, this pretty nasty dude Qin Shi Huang lived in about 210BC. He had all these warriors built for his tomb so he could enter peacefully into the afterlife. Whether they were to rule with him or fight with him we still are not sure. Each face is non-identical – I believe regular men made them based on themselves which is why they are so varied.
They’re in the form of ranking in the army, so you get some kneeling archers, standing archers, cavalrymen with horses, mid-ranking officers and standing generals. Each one is determined by his expression or hairstyle. Almost all of them have their hair up in a ‘I’m gonna get shit done bun’.
They mean business.
Although they’re not all uncovered yet and we literally have no idea how big this whole thing is, scholars are still piecing a lot together. There was only one complete solider found – a kneeling archer. Which is why he is known as the lucky one. So you can buy a little gift of him on your way out if you want. You can also do a cheeky faceswap booth so there is the option of having your face on a 3D printed warrior. Oh China.
Quin Shi Huang had a rule that if he died, he wanted everyone in his immediate living quarters and the surrounding area to be killed too so he would have some company and someone to serve him/shag him in the afterlife.
Literally a massive fam feud occurred bigger than anything the Kardashians could have staged. A group of skeletons had been found in the tomb with a crossbow shot at short range, and this suggests an execution of siblings. The dismembered female bodies that were found are still a little shady, but we do know all of the King’s concubines were to be killed too in case any of them were preggers.
Qin Shi Huang had a load of brothers that were all fighting to rule in his place after his death and they didn’t want one of his illegitimate children popping up after 20 years demanding to rule what wasn’t rightfully his. Huang’s second son was supposed to succeed him, but the bros argued and one of the eunuchs finally topped him off. Hence the executions. I got this nugget from a young guide who was writing his dissertation on the site and the mysteries that surround it.
Anyway, after sucking up all this info and the stiffness in my legs from the walk I bumped into this Chinese artist who was drawing the people watching the warriors. I had a very nice chat to him through the google translate app – which is still super inaccurate – in mandarin and bought one of his drawings.
Support emerging artists everywhere!