When I was younger I went to see the Great Wall. I was about 8 or 9 and the impact on me was profound. I never forgot it and recently I went back again with some of my best friends, needless to say I was as much in awe at 30 as I was at 8.
What I wanted to know is does it live up to its hype, you’ve seen so many photos of it that you feel like the memory of being there has been recorded already. What I wanted to know was, would it still take my breath away standing on The Walls again, and it did, emphatically!
The Terracotta soldiers are one of those places too, one of the places you’ve seen so many times you would think you had been before and so I was itching to get there to see them.
When you walk into the main hall the vastness of it is immense, the pictures don’t do it justice but it is gigantic. These rows upon rows of soldiers waiting for after life battle makes you understand the power and narcissism the Empower at the time had (coincidentally he was the one who build most of the wall as well).
This dude built 70 square kilometers of everything he had in life in clay for when he died because he believed that he would then have them in his afterlife. He them, after decade of artists and builders slaving away, killed them all so no one would know about his Terracotta army and come destroy them.
After getting over the enormity of these hangers and then trying to understand this is merely a tiny sample of what has been excavated (the government, rightly so, in not excavating until they have the technology to ensure preservation) my cynicism started.
It just all seemed a little too perfect, the farmers who was looking for water found the outermost corner of the tombs (the ones still alive now sit in the gift shop everyday just smoking, signing books and taking your money). These neatly packaged clay soldiers, most perfectly formed and then a few broken ones lying around, at the back the ‘hospital’ that doesn’t ever seem to change.
Maybe that’s cynical people feel like when they see things that are inexplicable, and if anything this is that. Its mysterious vastness yet altogether a little too well coordinated to be from thousands of years ago. Having said that this guy built the great wall so why the hell not 70 square kilometers of army tombs.
Don’t get me wrong, it is bucket list stuff. It’s magnificent, creepy and exciting all at the same time and I now have an archer in my lounge permanently but I’m realizing more and more in China the things that are supposed to impact me the most are far outshone by those I didn’t even know exited, cue the Leshan Buddha!