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For the Fastest Way to Get to China: “Terracotta Warriors”

As with many places around the world, I have always longed to visit China. I want to see and walk along the Great Wall. I want to try local cuisine. 

High among my list of things to see and do in China is to pay a visit to the Xian province and see the Terracotta Warriors. They are considered to be one of the wonders of the world. Now more than ever, I can sure see why.

I first learned about the Terracotta Warriors the way I learn almost everything else that is travel related; I saw Samantha Brown do it. Samantha Brown had a show in 2008 called “Passport to China”.  Like any of her other shows I recorded this and watched it religiously. One of the many thrilling moments is when she goes to the Great Wall of China. I have always dreamed of going there, imagining what I would feel like standing there looking ahead and around, feeling that energy and space. It takes my breath away just imagining it. I loved the way Ms. Brown was also moved by it in this episode.

Even though she literally falls for the wall, I am still moved by her sentiment and the beautiful surroundings she is in. The entire series is this way. She is taking us along her journey and this is why her shows were always my favorites. I truly felt like I was there and I always learned something. Whether it was how to travel better, smarter, or even where to go. When I went to London for the first time I remembered where she walked and in retracing her steps I knew I was not lost and not even wasting time. There was a sense of tradition, wisdom, and connection that goes beyond the viewer and host relationship. But in the “Passport to China” episode where Samantha Brown explored Xian I was not only learning but in sheer utter shock at what was before my eyes. It was this treasure I was about to see on television that would send me to the Discovery exhibit four years later on the verge of collapse with excitement.

The story goes that in 1974, famers made this amazing discovery by accident as they began digging for a well. They slowly uncovered, what eventually turned out to be over 8,000 individual soldiers (no two are the same), 130 chariots, 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses in a total of four main pits. However the fourth pit was empty.  There are also non-military figures such as musicians and other artists of that day. All are life size and were assembled separately.

This enormous burial ground is for Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China who died in 210 BC. He so feared dying that if he had to die he wanted to be protected as he was in life.

Visitors to this famous site will walk above the warriors along a perimeter, as Samantha Brown did. Only a few, rare foreign dignitaries have been granted the privilege to walk through it. The actual tomb of the Emperor remains unopened.

I have been coming to the Discovery Times Square Museum for as long as it’s been open now. I love each exhibit more than the next. But I have to say Pompeii was my favorite only because I have longed to go there and see the real thing, I have never dreamed it would come to me first (

Now as it luck would have it, China followed Italy! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read that the Terracotta Warriors were going to be displayed on loan here in N.Y.C. from their home. It was too good to be true. I could not wait. I was bursting on the inside.

Last week the big day finally came. I was finally going. I had ants in my pants all day at work. I could not wait. Even during the film we were watching before we went in, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was too close. But I was trying not to show it. There were children around and I didn’t want to act less well behaved then them. Such show offs!

Finally the doors open. On display there are many items such as weapons and other artifacts found inside these pits. There were also the same things you would find in any museum: bowls, sculptures, vessels, and even actual blocks from the bricks from the walls. I liked that the best. But I could take no more. As I rounded a corner I spotted a warrior out of the corner of my eye and I took off. I had to see them up close. I am sure the smaller objects were lovely and I raced around to see them. But I had waited too long to see these guys, enough’s enough already!

The first warrior I approached was standing next to a horse. They were standing on a stage higher than me but I could tell immediately the grandeur of their appearance. The detail of each of them was remarkable. Let alone how old they are, you would never know it. All I kept focusing on was their long trip to get here. I couldn’t imagine how they arrived unharmed. I wanted so desperately to touch them but I play by the rules and was happy just to be able to take pictures (no flashes please). I do believe in the preservation of historic valuables.

All in all there were about ten large warriors and then there were several medium size ones. They were all so different and amazing. There were animals, people, everything and anything you can think of. They are so real and life like. My only disappointment was that they couldn’t bring anymore. Like, a thousand soldiers is so hard to pack and ship or something?

As any good exhibit it ended with a trip to the gift shop and a purchase of a mini terracotta warrior of my very own.

This exhibit closes on August 26, 2012. Be sure to make it there before then. It is not something you will want to miss, after all how often does China come to you?

To see what the Terracotta warriors are like in their natural setting check out these videos:

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