The Terracotta and People’s Armies

I’ll travel pretty much anywhere at the drop of a hat. Go around the world for 7 weeks? Cool! When do we leave? Overnight trip to Munich? Sounds grand, which beer hall do we want to have dinner at?

But. There are times when travel is not    –     quite    –    optimal. The rainy season offers big bargains and great deals for a reason. Like, you’re going to be wet most of the time. Another time period to carefully debate traveling in is when other countries have their special holidays. Sure, Christmas Market season anywhere in Germany or areas that have a tradition of a Weihnachtsmarkt is a good time to go. However, any National Day will probably mean shops and sights are closed up tight.

And, trust me on this one, you really don’t want to go to China when it’s National Day Golden Week, and 1.3 BILLION people are on holiday. [1]

They will all be taking their vacations. Spots that are usually crowded anyway are going to be jam-packed. This is not an experience for visitors with weak hearts or fear of crowds.

We learned this the hard way: first-hand. We did this at one of China’s most popular tourist sites: The Terracotta Army in Xi’an.

We got tickets and seats on a tour bus to get to the site. Our charming tour guide pointed to the buildings that house the terracotta army, pointed to the number of our bus, and finally pointed to her watch. No way she was going to push through the crowds in the massive hangars – she’d meet us at the designated time, back on our bus.

And in we went…. To this day I’m not sure what astounded me more. Was it the sheer size and scale of the clay army from 210-209 BC that was discovered in 1974?

This is 1 of 3 hangars and the Chinese are still excavating

Or was it the mass of tourists both foreign and native who completely filled the viewing areas?

Those are streams of visitors lining the windows

One thing I do know for sure. That trip to China during October’s Golden Week cured whatever claustrophobia I may have once had. If you could survive the crowds we experienced in Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai, you can survive them anywhere.

A small break in the big crowds

NOTES: [1] National Day of the People Wikipedia. ©Jadi Campbell 2018. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to

Click here for my author page to learn more about my books and me.

16 thoughts on “The Terracotta and People’s Armies”

  1. That would be so magnificent to see!!! It’s on my list….someday. But if we go, we’ll avoid that week! And I can relate!!! My two months in India being part of a river of pressed bodies nearly everywhere I went cured me of mine!!! My son had to explain to me that there is no such thing as personal boundaries or a line in India. Not like we understand them in the USA. You get into the flow of people or be left out. Once I surrendered to it, I was fine. But what an interesting experience!!!

    1. The crowds in India…. especially at a festival. It seems like people keep appearing, and the crowds swell, and just grow bigger. And bigger. And bigger. Yes, it is one interesting experience for sure. Takes one’s breath away.

  2. We had in Finland, Terracotta Army exhibition few years ago. My post presenting it, still waits for publication. Your post was very enjoyable to read and to look at Your pics.

  3. Truly extraordinary pictures of the terracotta army… had never realized just what a huge project they were and are !!!
    As for the crowds… Hongkong back in 1970 convinced me after four years of battling through huge throngs on that island, that I would find another place, but a lonely empty one – so I came to New Zealand where fewer that four million people live on an island the same size as England !!!
    You’re so right about October being the best time to travel… so often the weather is the best then…

    1. Ah, so that’s how you ended up on beautiful New Zealand… I spent some time in the New Territories and was astonished at the lovely lush area so close to the chaos of Hong Kong – it’s just a short bus or metro ride away but feels like another world altogether.

  4. Good advice, and too bad, October it’s my favorite month of the year, and love to travel particularly a this time, I worked many years ago on Hotel management, an found out October was our business weakest time of the year, and therefore the best for travelers, since they could take all kind of good deals, cheaper rates, cheaper airline tickets, uncrowded facilities, and be served as a king, I remember occasions where ten waiters will be taking care of two, or three patrons, besides that it’s one of the best weather wise months, in most places, the summer heat it’s gone, also the rain, snowbirds are waiting for Thanksgiving to be over, so they can flock South.
    I realize different places, have different conditions, like going to Munich in Oktoberfest, maybe not a good idea, unless you enjoy the crowds, and the festive ambiance.

    Thank you for the advice, China it’s a no for October, at least for me. 🙂

    1. Keep traveling in October – even to China. Just not during that one week in the month. We find that October is a lovely time of year to travel!

    1. Good to hear from you Marilyn. It wasn’t an experience I’ll need (or want) to repeat anytime soon, but it was definitely one of those defining travel moments!

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