Becoming a Terracotta Warrior in Xi’an

Lauren as a terracotta warrior

First, the backstory…

By the time I arrived in Xi’an, China had already taken hold of me and was tightening its grip on my weary body like a python squeezing the life out of its prey.

When I wasn’t wading ankle deep in thousands of camera-wielding Chinese locals, I was drowning in TV marathons of 90210 and Gossip Girl while eating away my sorrows with a unsatisfying range of junk food.

It’s no wonder that Xi’an became my last destination in China.

My flights out of the country were booked and I was ready to leave China two weeks before I originally planned on doing so. There was just one more thing left on my list for Xi’an: visiting the terracotta warriors.

terracotta warriors xian

…And then I saw it. 

A sign offering an opportunity that I just couldn’t refuse.

For just 20 RMB, I would be able to dress up as a terracotta warrior and pose for 10 whole minutes.


girl dressed as a terracotta warrior
Girl riding a terracotta horse in China
terracotta warrior costume
terracotta horses costume

…And just like that, all of my tension melted away and I was back doing what I love the most: taking silly photos!

Have you ever been in a stressful travel situation, and how did you handle it? 

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  1. Audrey
    December 6, 2011

    Hahaha, those must’ve been some strong drinks! The warrior armour kind of looks like a quilted comforter… :)

    • December 6, 2011

      Hahaha, Audrey, I’d never experienced beer goggles like that before in my life! And yes, the armour wasn’t the most realistic… :)

  2. Leah
    December 6, 2011

    OMG, hysterical story! We’ve all been there, though.

    I feel you about China. I spent a week in Beijing and decided I had no desire to go anywhere else in the country. Aggressive people, pollution, inability to get around (one of my cab driver’s couldn’t find my hostel, with written directions and a Chinese native by my side!), and uncertainty about WHAT my food was and if it was safe. Asia has far greener pastures!

    • December 7, 2011

      Glad to hear I wasn’t the only one to struggle in China, it drove me absolutely crazy for the exact same reasons as you list.

  3. ElizabethJ_Bird
    December 6, 2011

    Haha. This post was hilarious. I love the description of “Hot Guy.”

    I saw the terra cotta warriors when they were one tour in DC- they were relaly cool. Hope to go to China one day and see them again.

    PS. I may have missed some posts, but whats been getting you down? Is traveling just wearing you out?

    • December 7, 2011

      Yeah, I was moving pretty much non-stop and moving to a new place every 3 days was tiring me out.

      I found China to be extremely stressful to travel in and just needed to get out of there and relax somewhere for a few weeks and do nothing.

  4. krdr
    December 6, 2011

    Those are cheerful photos.

    Anyway, there’s just one way of dealing with stress – being calm. Easier to said, than done. The most easy solution includes fellow traveler. First, left a out little of anger. Just enough to induce anger and stress to your fellow. As your fellow traveler begins to argue, lay back and enjoy…

    • December 7, 2011

      That doesn’t sound like it would reduce stress very well! ;)

  5. Amanda
    December 6, 2011

    Hahaha, oh my gosh that’s hilarious. At least you got some fun photos out of it, though!

    • December 7, 2011

      Yes, definitely! Love my photos haha!

  6. Neala
    December 7, 2011

    LOL, I loved it. From the almost disaster of Hot Guy to posing as a warrior. Funny, and wonderful.

    • December 7, 2011

      Thanks so much, Neala!

  7. Chris
    December 7, 2011

    Sounds like some serious beer goggles, LOL. And I didn’t know you could dress up and pose with them, that’s incredible!

    • December 7, 2011

      I’d never experienced beer goggles like that before!!

  8. Elise @ Positive World Travel
    December 7, 2011

    I knew you could buy and order actual terracotta warriors to take home, but didn’t know you could dress up as one. Nice! Photos like that are always a laugh to look back on in years to come!

    • December 15, 2011

      Hahaha, I saw that! I’d love to have one guarding my house!!

  9. Kurt W
    December 7, 2011

    Great shots, China is a tough place to travel. I would say it is the worst place in Asia when you add in all the variables…that doesn’t mean it should be avoided though.

    • December 7, 2011

      I’m glad I got to experience China, but it was definitely the hardest place I’ve been to so far.

  10. James Cook
    December 7, 2011

    That’s hilarious they should offer dress up at other historical places!

    • December 8, 2011

      Wouldn’t that be brilliant?

  11. crazy sexy fun traveler
    December 7, 2011

    The photos are really cute :)

    • December 8, 2011

      Thanks, Alexandra :)

  12. Angela
    December 7, 2011

    China is by no means an easy travel destination, the language is too difficult, my first month there was a nightmare, but after a year I boarded the plane crying because I didn’t want to leave anymore. I would go back to live in China even tomorrow if I could.

    • December 15, 2011

      Wow, that’s great that you still persevered and ended up loving it! I wasn’t strong enough to do that ;)

  13. cheryl
    December 7, 2011

    Ha ha ha! So cute. Love these pics. :)

    • December 15, 2011

      Thanks, Cheryl! :)

  14. Christy @ Ordinary Traveler
    December 7, 2011

    Ha! That’s awesome! That would be a great halloween costume and it would be warm! :)

    • December 15, 2011

      So true! I should have stolen it to wear at Halloween!

  15. Jess
    December 8, 2011

    Hey Lauren, just found you blog and love it! Keep the awesome posts coming!

    Hope ‘hot guy’ doesn’t google you and find this! lol.

    • December 15, 2011

      Thanks, Jess! That was one of my concerns when writing this post actually!

      We haven’t spoken since that day so I’m hoping he doesn’t know about my site!

  16. Sam
    December 8, 2011

    Looks like you had fun!

    • December 15, 2011

      It ended up being a pretty fun day after all the stress in the morning!

  17. jade
    December 8, 2011

    What fun! I would have totally dressed up and played around too! Bob and I dressed up as Vikings when we were at the Iceland Museum- we felt silly but I love the pictures!

    • December 15, 2011

      Hahahahaha, that sounds awesome! I’d totally do exactly the same!

  18. Caroline
    December 8, 2011

    MIGHTY drinks they are!! Did you find the Terracotta Warriors to be worth it??

    • December 15, 2011

      Honestly? Not really. It was an hour long bus ride to see a load of them in a hole in the ground. Once you’ve taken photos for 5 minutes, you’re pretty much done, and have the huge journey back again!

      It was cool to see them, but don’t go out of your way to do it…

  19. Kieu ~ GQ trippin
    December 8, 2011

    Hahaha.. NOT so hot guy. Lol. Way to make lemonades! =P

    • December 15, 2011

      Hahahaha, such a disappointment!

  20. George
    December 8, 2011

    I know what you mean when it just gets to that point where you just want to sit around watching TV all the time. I’m glad you are in a happier place now xx

    • December 15, 2011

      Yeah, and I did that for the next month in Seoul and loved it! Really needed to do it… :)

  21. Rachael Sena
    December 8, 2011

    Oh goodness! There’s nothing more disappointing than finding out that “Hot Guy” isn’t so hot. At least he could be of use! It looks like you had a lot of fun!

    • December 15, 2011

      Hahahaha, yes, thank god he knew how to work a camera or I would have stabbed him with my terracotta sword!

  22. Jade Johnston
    December 9, 2011

    I find when I travel I need to take one or two days off per week to just do nothing and watch movies and surf the internet – otherwise I burn out. I guess its sort of like work in a way – you need a weekend! even from travel!

    • December 15, 2011

      I’m starting to realise that I need to do the same too, the only problem is getting back working after taking a break!

  23. Daryle
    December 9, 2011

    This post cracked me up! The pictures are priceless. I’m sitting at a pub right now and just had to show my friend your blog. Thanks for the entertainment and I always look forward to your next post. Cheers!

    • December 15, 2011

      Hhahaha, glad you enjoyed, Daryle!

  24. Michael Hodson
    December 9, 2011

    Seriously embarassing. Which is why I love it.

    • December 15, 2011

      Embarrassing yet super cool? You’re so jealous.

  25. Fidel @IHarTravel
    December 10, 2011

    Umm, so exactly what were you drinking to get goggles like that?
    Did you see the real terracotta warrior figures?

    • December 15, 2011

      I only had like 2 beers! Shame I’m such a lightweight, hahaha!

      I did indeed see the real ones. Bit anti-climatic though…

  26. Naomi
    December 11, 2011

    well at least “hot guy” is a good photographer. I do so LOVE a good dress up!

    • December 15, 2011

      Yeah, thank GOD! Hahaha. I love it too – i felt so silly and touristy but had so much fun!

  27. Runaway Brit
    December 11, 2011

    Does ‘Hot Guy’ know about your blog??!

    • December 15, 2011

      He did…. Hahahaha. I’m hoping he doesn’t read it anymore as we haven’t spoken in over a month!

  28. Abby
    December 11, 2011

    China’s tough! I was so excited about your knight in shining armor for a second there — DARN. I also drank my weight in booze to get through China. I remember my flight to Singapore as being the most hungover I’ve ever been on a plane in my life. You’re hilarious.

    • December 15, 2011

      Hahahaha, I know that feeling! I would say that I think I needed to drink more while I was there, but that would probably be dangerous!

  29. Nomadic Samuel
    December 11, 2011

    Maybe if he had some white powder or face paint he would have looked ever more handsome :P

    • December 15, 2011

      Nothing I love more than a man with white powder on his face!

  30. Theodora
    December 12, 2011

    Ha! We wanted to do this but they didn’t have outfits in Z’s size… Shame you’re hating China so much. I found, despite the hassles, that it really grew on me…

    • December 15, 2011

      Oh, that’s a shame! I would have shoved him in an oversized one anyway haha!

  31. Christine
    December 12, 2011

    LOL about the “hot guy”. After reading this and the tea scam post, China just isn’t your place, is it?

    • December 15, 2011

      We really didn’t get on at all….

  32. Kelsey
    December 14, 2011

    Sounds like a good day after it all was said and done!

    • December 15, 2011

      It definitely ended up being better than I originally expected!

  33. Mary @ Green Global Travel
    December 21, 2011

    Hilarious. I’m glad to be out of the bar scene. There is nothing worse than being somewhat trapped with dull company when traveling.

    • December 21, 2011

      I know, thank god I only had to spend a few hours with him!

  34. DTravelsRound
    December 22, 2011

    Hahahaaaa!! Beer Goggles at their finest! Love that you dressed up as a warrior. Brilliant.

    • January 3, 2012

      :D Oh, I never believed in beer goggles but damn, they’re scary haha!

  35. Dan Thompson
    December 23, 2011

    That is some funny stuff. Way to be a good sport and go anyway. This will be one of those things you’ll laugh about for years.

    I had a lot of wonderful experiences in China, but I must say it wasn’t at all what I expected or hoped for. I was not properly prepared for the crowds, to say the least.

    Safe travels,


    • January 3, 2012

      The crowds were pretty insane, yeah – In Beijing especially.

  36. Cam
    December 28, 2011

    Hah! Great story, and classic photos! Gotta love the tacky tourist shots once in a while. I did something similar in Edinburgh with the William Wallace warrior… good times!

    • January 3, 2012

      Hahahaha, that sounds awesome! I had so much fun that I’m tempted to do it wherever I go that offers it!

  37. Joseph
    December 30, 2011

    Another example that alcohol is not good, especially if you’re abroad :)) love the pictures though, I would have done the same ;)
    As an “interesting” travel story, I was on a one day trip to Israel with a Russian group, without speaking a word in said language…it was intense…after the initial shock I just read the signs, and took tons of photos, almost felt like I was on my own :)
    Great posts, love reading them :) Wishing you a Happy New Year!

    • January 3, 2012

      Alcohol can be very dangerous, for sure!

      It’s always a bit daunting arriving in a country where nobody around you is speaking English. It can definitely be fun though!

      Happy New Year!

  38. Aaron
    March 25, 2012

    Great post – and excellent blog! I was searching for some info on Kiev and spent some time strolling through your adventures! I just got back from China as well but your journey sounds more interesting than mine! :)

  39. Tash
    March 28, 2012

    A ha ha ha, these photos are awesome! Such fun!

    It’s so amazing, the tricks your beer goggles play on you! Amazing he did not sprout MJ stories the night before….hmmm, hell, maybe he did! Ha! Thanks god you found a use for him!

  40. Nomadic Translator
    October 9, 2012

    “HOT GUY”


  41. L
    June 16, 2017

    I was in Xi’an for two weeks (with a volunteer group). I found China to be rather overwhelming. I loved my volunteer placement but China is just so huge, so many people, so many noises…it was a sensory overload to me for sure. It felt very safe, and the people were polite I felt. But things were just SO crowded (the buses, dang!) and the honking….even crossing a street seemed like this battle for your life haha. So yeah, China was not my “speed” but it’s still awesome to have been able to go. I saw the TerraCotta warriors (even getting the random tour bus to get there was interesting, I just hopped on one and wished for the best! and then got lost coming back at the train station, took me 30 minutes to find the bus going back…)

    Anyway, cool to go, I’m glad I did, and China has its own appeal. But I’m a quiet introvert type, so the overwhelming noises, sights, smells, amount of people was a lot for my little low-tolerance self.