May 26:  Xi'an, overnight train to Suzhou

In the morning we took a minibus out to the Terracotta Warriors, an hour from Xi'an.  The 7000 unique-faced warriors and horses (total discovered so far) were manufactured in 210-209 BC to "guard" an emperor's tomb, and were then discovered by farmers in 1974.

Before seeing the Warriors we watched a film on them, in which it was claimed that the Terracotta Warriors are the Eighth Wonder of the World.  NO!  Andre the Giant is the 8th, and the aforementioned Chyna is the 9th.  Idiots.

Here are a bunch of uncaptioned photos from Pit 1, which holds most of the Warriors:

This guy is one of the farmers who discovered the Warriors.  He signs autographs.  Behind him on the wall is a photo of him meeting Bill Clinton.

Here are a few from Pit 3:

Above is one from Pit 2.  That pit is still being excavated and is not worth seeing.

Engrish on the way out of Pit 2.

For lunch we went to the Xi'an Huiling school for mentally disabled children, one of Intrepid's charitable interests.  The was a pamphlet with the web site but I left it at the table.  Another Intrepid group was there as well--they were a full 12, but mostly older and far less attractive than us.  At the school the kids are called "trainees" because they train them how to go shopping, ride the bus, behave appropriately and otherwise function in society.  The meal was weak (main course was egg-tomato-noodle soup), but also a bit weird because we were to see a Retards Talent Show after lunch, and some of the kids were lurking around.  The albino Chinese kid completely freaked me out.  And there was a moon-faced kid who I assume had Down syndrome, which made me wonder if mongolism is more prevalent in China on account of Mongolia being so close.  The talent show wasn't that bad really; the performers may have had mild impairments but were otherwise normal.  I noticed a girl who appeared to have cerebral palsy and looked depressed, perhaps at being condemned to go to school with genuine freaks instead of having a normal life.  I wondered if kids are sometimes misclassified as "disabled", like her and the albino.  Funniest part was the first dance where two kids wore giant white traditional Chinese heads, and one of them held onto the head the whole time so it wouldn't fall off, like when Letterman sent Larry "Bud" Melman out on the streets of New York in the bear suit.  At the end we all had to get up and do the Chicken Dance with the trainees and staff.  As we left the building, we vowed never to speak of what had just happened.

Back at the hotel I read outside in the square for a little bit.  Then we headed to the train station for a 6:44pm-10:30am ride to Suzhou.  On the journey we got some beers (bottled!), played cards briefly and a few other games.  MJ asked an odd question of us:  "How do you show kindness to a friend?"  I said "We exchange insults.  Why would I show kindness to a friend?"  Things are different in China apparently.

Koenraad, Terence, Anne Marie and MJ.  This is the closest thing to a group photo that I took.

Terence and I each got a second bottle, but around 11:30pm a guy came around ushering people into their berths, so we went to bed.