Imagethief and the lost apartment of Qin Shihuang

Recently Imagethief and family went to Xi’an for a weekend. As everyone does, we went to see the terracotta warriors. That was fine, but the real highlight of the trip was the apartment we stayed in, which was decorated top-to-bottom in replica terracotta warriors and had a working Chinese-style guillotine. But, hey, it also had free Internet, a fridge full of very cheap beer, and was a five minute walk from the downtown ethnic Hui area, which has awesome food. At 500RMB a night, what wasn’t to like? A video tour of the apartment below. It was shot on a phone camera, so it’s not exactly Cinemascope, but it does include a guillotine demonstration!

For those reading this on Facebook (which does not import the YouTube videos), the video is here. Photographs from the trip, including those in the video, are on Flickr here.

The apartment was one of four owned and rented out by the day by a guy named Clarence Guo. Clarence used to be a taxi driver. After a few years shuttling tourists to and from the terracotta warriors he realized he could do better as a tour-guide and provider of what we shall call “themed lodging”, so he taught himself the history, wrote a book about the warriors, and bought and refurbished the apartments. We also hired him as our tour guide, which worked out pretty well although he’s clearly a bit burned out on the whole warrior thing after ten-odd years.

I had only one complaint about the apartment. Despite having a toddler in tow, it was not the guillotine. It was that Clarence’s creative renovations left zero noise isolation between the apartments and there was an extremely loud family of Israeli tourists staying next door to us. But all in, it was a pretty good deal. E-mail me for Clarence’s phone numbe if you’re ever planning a trip to Xi’an and have no issues with guillotines or sleeping in a bedroom full of terracotta warriors, you can. More comments from customers on TripAdvisor.

Update – China friendly version now online:

China-friendly Tudou version now online since YouKu, my usual Chinese option, went into some kind of weird suck-fit and refused to let me upload — three times. Never happened before. For those not used to it, Tudou has a pre-roll ad and a heavily spangled presentation. You’ve been warned.

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