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Chapter ninety eight - Xi'an

Enter the warriors!

sunny 28 °C

Day 354: Xi'an, Shanxi, China 17/09/2012

Our overnight train pulls into Xi'an at around five forty am, and we are soon fighting the sizeable crowd that have alighted our train for a cab, aided by Jason, our pilot friend from the train. Driven by our woman cab driver - whose photo licence looks remarkably like who I guess to be her husband - we soon find ourselves lost in Xi'an and unable to find the hostel we have booked. A quick phone call to the hostel helps us locate the rogue venue and we are checked in and settled down before half past six. This then begs the question 'shall we sleep, shall we not?' After agreeing that we won't, nay, can't sleep, we wake up about three hours later...

A nice hot shower in the brand new hostel (and the first shared dorm room of the whole trip - we had to try it!), with its pristine new pool room complete with leather sofas, sees us ready to go out and have a bit of a wander round. Taxi to station. Bus ticket booked to Pingyao. Getting the hang of this ticket booking thing now we have booked our last journey...

Stroll through the town for the rest of the day, through the some beautiful and busy parts of the city, past the bell tower and the drum tower, through the sense bombarding Muslim quarter and into a traditional Chinese Wal-Mart. A night spent unsuccessfully trying to find good food, ending up with some strange sweet rice porridge in the Muslim district and trying to get to know our new Ukrainian room mate Andrew (though I suspect he means Andrei).

Day 355: Xi'an, Shanxi, China 18/09/2012

Up a little later than anticipated (9am) to accompany our Ukrainian/Russian roomie to the Terracotta Warriors. A cab to the train station then a bus on to the warriors themselves sees us arrive at the right place at around eleven. After a bit of confusion on where to go, we buy our (quite pricey) tickets into the Warriors and face a ten minute walk from ticket booth to site entrance, passing the obligatory noodle stalls and stand upon stand of crap souvenir stands, though many are selling the much needed Alsation skins to the passing tourists. Odd.

Eventually find our way in to the pits full of the thousands of terracotta warriors. A seriously impressive piece of history here, with row upon row of individually made clay soldiers being preserved for a seriously long time (thought to date from the third century) with a huge number of them being found in almost mint condition. The most amazing thing about them is the fact they are all unique, from their facial features to their hairstyles to the tread on their shoes. No mass production plants in China back then! Lots of tourists here but only to be expected from such a world renowned site and definitely worth the trip out to see. Not sure how our Eastern European friend has found spending the day with us but a spectacle nonetheless for all involved.

We head back to Xi'an on the bus and make our way back to the hostel. We spend a bit of time chilling out before moving back into the Muslim Quarter and being disappointed once again by the dinner we manage to procure here. A large number of old people dancing together in the park makes for an entertaining trip back to the room and a couple of games of pool sees off a good day.

Day 356: Xi'an, Shanxi, China 19/09/2012

A quiet day in Xi'an today and with the sun blazing outside we take a stroll to the small park nearby, where I catch up with the diary and we get a bit of vitamin D. In search of a 'traditional market' a bit later on we find the map we have is referring instead to a fruit and veg market and though not as expected the usual suspects make an appearance as in any Chinese public space - the intimidating woman, the gobbing/retching old man, the small young kid with an ice cream and the small dog.

Continue our jaunt and end up in a trendy bar district of the city. The price is right so we sit down for a couple of beers. While away the afternoon with a few more and order some average food before hailing a cab home and packing the bags in a slightly inebriated state...

Posted by tevs 14:03 Archived in China Tagged food traditional city china xian Comments (0)

Chapter ninety seven - Chengdu to Xi'an

Another train journey. Slight decrease in duration. Slight increase in price. Huge increase in comfort.

overcast 27 °C

Day 353: Chengdu, Sichuan - Xi'an, Shanxi 16/09/2012

A nice relaxed start to the day, with a lie in and a spot of reading before showering and donning the backpacks for the three hundred and fifteen thousand eight hundred and twenty eighth time of the trip. After hailing a cab (easier said than done on a Sunday morning) we are through the ridiculously busy roads of Chengdu and to the station. Forty minutes after leaving we arrive at the station with a bit of a rush on our hands. G runs to grab a lunch of a Chinese colonel's recipe of eight secret herbs and spices and we are running to the train with seconds to spare despite our sensibly early start to the day. Sweating quite disgustingly, we settle into our six bed berth and meet our neighbours for the next fourteen hours - two middle aged men and an elderly couple, who all already seem quite matey.

The sleeper carriage is infinitely quieter and more comfortable than the hard seat carriage we endured enjoyed on our last trip on the Chinese railways. After being befriended by our bedfellows, we are bullied quite forcibly into sharing their food and drink, with the pork ribs and the 52% rice whisky being particularly memorable consumable gifts. As the evening and the journey wear on, we make more and more friends in the carriage, befriending a trainee pilot and a number of younger English speaking passengers. Soon on the top bunk and drift off thinking the ribs were maybe a step too far...

Posted by tevs 13:47 Archived in China Tagged train china xian railway chengdu Comments (0)

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