For those of you who don’t know Flat Stanley is a character from a children’s book. Stanley gets flattened, but remains unharmed and lives a somewhat normal life. In one instance in the book he is mailed in a large envelope to visit a friend. From there the Flat Stanley Project started and Stanley was mailed by school children to friends and family all over the world. Sometimes students take their own personal Flat Stanley’s with them on vacation and write about their adventures. Last year we did this as a unit and the students enjoyed writing about their personal vacations. With its sucess we decided to do the unit again this year. I, as the class teacher of course participate! This year John and I took a short trip to Xi’an, China (pronounced She-Ann) which is best known for the World Heritage Site, the Terracotta Warriors. Flat Stanley tagged along.This may be Flat Stanley’s first visit to the terracotta warriors!
We left Shanghai and flew the short journey to Xi’an. The next day we took a bus ride, an hour outside of the city, which brought us to a small town where the warriors are located. Inside there are 3 pits with numerous warriors and horses. We were surprised to see that pit 1, 2 and 3 were still in the process of being uncovered, but pit 1 was the most photographed and familiar. Some of the warriors are broken, fallen over or peeking out from hundreds of years of packed earth. In Pit 1 the warriors stand at attention and look as if they are ready to march forward once given the command. The site was crowded with on lookers and it took a lot of patience to get into position to get some prize photos. Good thing Flat Stanley is flat and he can squeeze through the crowds easily.
The detail on the warriors is quite amazing. Each one looks different… from the hair styles, uniform type, head-dress, expression and body type. Their suits of armour look so realistic, but upon closer inspection it is clay. The horses were my favourite -life size warriors and horses!
It is estimated about 8,000 warriors guard the Emperors tomb and many are still to be uncovered.
The main streets were crowded with people, cars and very modern. Subway, McDonald’s, Starbucks and KFC were among the shops filling the streets. However, the back streets were like stepping back in time. Looking around you could see the locals selling fruit, slippers and books from carts or blankets spread on the ground. Make shift temporary food stalls were smoking and cooking meat over open fire with coal. They sold various meats and noodles. The streets were an assault on the senses with bright colours, smells and sounds. Unlike Shanghai the streets get quiet late at night just as the fog and mist rolls in from the mountains. When the sun starts to rise the city starts to awake slowly into a busy new day.
Taxis are hard to come by, but tuck-tucks are pretty common. These are little electic scooters with a roof and seat on the back. They are covered with a thin flexible plastic and a bungee cord and butterfly clip holds the door in place. It helps block the wind and would keep the rain off. A few are open air, maybe not ‘winterized’ yet. Negotiate a price and they will take you all over the city.
Xi’an was an interesting city and seeing the warriors was an experience few get to see in a life time. Just another great advantage of working and teaching overseas. Flat Stanley got some looks from the locals, but so did we. Few expats live in Xi’an and with it being the holiday many people from all over China came to visit. Westerners were an unusual sight as we garnered many stares and requests to pose for pictures. Children would chase us to say hello in English before running off. Some even had to touch you. The city was welcoming and we always felt safe… and the extra attention was a bonus, our 5 minutes of ‘rock star’ fame.
Stay tuned for more adventures from China…