I hurried––scuttled really: the scale of the surroundings had reduced all human activity to comparison to ants, and ‘scuttled’ seemed a more appropriate term––from the train station, through the gates, and across the square. My hotel was no more than 100 yards away. It was a relief. After the sleeper from Beijing, I should have felt like stretching my legs, but all I wanted was a place where I could stop moving.
The view from the window of my hotel, looked back towards the train station. It was nice to be able to watch a scene and not be a part of it. Tones of grey from the tiles of the traditional gable roof; the tarmac of the road; the concrete of the buildings; the smog-laden sky. It should have been depressing, but it wasn’t. It was different, and it was far away and, as such, it was exhilarating.
I had come to Xi’an to see the Terracotta Warriors, of course, but from the sanctuary of my hotel bedroom, temporarily separated from the tourist reality of schedules and timetables, and ‘things to do’ and ‘things to see’, I was happy just to pause and observe their modern-day counterparts, content in the shared banality of an everyday scene.