My friend came by in the early morning and we set off to find the eastbound bus to the Terracotta Warrior attraction from Xi’an Railway Station. The bus was straightforward and affordable, though there’s an even faster route via bullet train. We opted to just explore around on our own without any guides or aides, walking through the the various exhibition halls, including the large excavation site revealing much of the unearthed warriors.
My friend eavesdropped on some Chinese guides and relayed stories about how Bill Clinton tried to request a warrior and how the farmer who discovered the site was paid $1 for this effort.
We even ventured behind the standard areas and found some staff ordering food from a man who was running long distances in and out of the park to make food deliveries. I was skeptical that he would return with our orders, but we had a nice meal then headed back to the city center.
Once back, I caught sight of the entrance to the top of the wall surrounding the city center and suggested that we go up then walk or bike south along the wall since it does not have any traffic.
We walked and walked and walked but could not find a bike rental and it soon became apparent that they would close the wall. With no end in sight or possibility of reaching the south before sunset, we decided to scale a fence and lower ourselves from the wall at one of the gated exit ramps.
From the outside, we were able to hop on a subway and made our way to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda to catch a very colorful nightly water show. After the extended show, we explored the larger park, including some of the little entertainment games like 3D VR shows.
Then we headed back to South Gate where we saw the walls and gate entrances transformed with stunning lights and reflections against the water.
At some crowded tourist sites, everyone moves in unison through a relatively predefined route. Unless you are rushing through, a way to save money is to follow along another group that paid for a tour guide.