Alright kids, let me tell you one of the greatest (tragic) love story in Chinese history (or what I remember of it from what Sue told me). In the Tang Dynasty, there was this emperor (Emperor Xuanzhong) who had a favourite concubine (Yang Guifei) and he was so in love with her, he spent a loooot of money building this luxurious palace just for her – which is how Huaqing Hot Springs came to be. Yang Guifei was supposedly one of the four most beautiful women in ancient China but apparently, what she was most famous for was actually her skin. However, the tragic part of the story is that because of some rebellion, the emperor’s guards persuaded the emperor to have Guifei murdered and due to the pressure, he did.
Huaqing Hot Springs/华清池 is really pretty and you can really appreciate how much these monuments have withstood history. In particular, the bathing areas (no pictures unfortunately), were preserved so well, you could actually see quite a lot of detail left on it!
So Huaqing Hot Springs is located at the bottom of Mount Li and Sue really wanted to see the Remonstrance Pavilion which is where Chiang Kai-shek (the then President of PRC) was hiding because he didn’t want to fight the Japanese invaders during WWII (lol). Now, let me tell you….I have no idea how Chiang Kai-shek climbed so fast and so high up that mountain during the night because it…was so tiring. But we made it up, and I, of course, had to take a photo with it to show that I made it. This event, also known as the Xi’an Incident, is extremely well known in China but to me, someone who knows nothing about Chinese history, did not feel as important to me. But hey, at least my dad was interested!!
Along the way up to the Remonstrance Pavilion, you can also see the old housing of previous emperors which then eventually housed where Chiang Kai-shek and his generals stayed. You can see their rooms, bathing areas as well as bullet holes from the Xi’an incident. I think reading the history prior to heading there is a good idea, unless you’re going with someone who loves Chinese history (like me) and they’ll just feed you the information as you’re going up the mountain hahaha.
Emperor Qin Shi Huang (first emperor of China) also built his mausoleum (tomb) at the foot of the mountain which means, the terracotta warriors are very close by. I think an important thing to note is that this guy…is extra af. The area of his ‘tomb’ is huge. H U G E. From the Hot Springs to the Terracotta Warriors was around 30 minutes by bus and from the Terracotta Warriors to the Mausoleum was another 10 minutes or so which meant that the entire area we covered, Qin Shi Huang had turned into his resting area.
I was super excited to visit the Terracotta Warriors because I had recently watched a BBC documentary about it but on the day, the weather was so hot and I was so tired from waking up around 5 in the morning, that I didn’t get to enjoy this place as much as I would’ve liked to. However, you can still really appreciate the sheer enormity of the place and how intricate the terracotta warriors are.
Seriously, how AMAZING is this? These were some of the warrior statues that were at the back of Pit 1 so I suppose they were still under construction?/getting excavated.
In total, there are 3 pits but after some tour guide told me there was a 4th pit? Not sure about it because I never saw it…
The last stop of the day was Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum and this area was enormous as well. For some reason, all of the solo travellers got put into a tour group so we had a lady giving us a tour of the place and giving us a lot of information about the Emperor and the history. Unfortunately, I was feeling so dead by this time (seriously, those photos were taken around 5:30pm and look at that sky) that I didn’t pay attention at all, although I feel like if I did, I would probably still only understand about 50% of what she was saying.
Note to self in the future: Don’t go to places where you need to spend lots of time outdoors walking when the weather is 35 degrees.
We walked nearly 15km that day, and though we were exhausted towards the end, in a way, it was worth the pain and exhaustion.