Sunday, 1 September 2013

Xi'an- Up's and Down's

Hi all,

Apologies for not posting in a while but thanks to a combination of limited wifi and a busy schedule, I haven't really had much opportunity for writing. We left off in Shanghai and I mentioned we were on our way to Xi'an. We made it safely after the best night train so far. Following our night out in Shanghai, we were both exhausted and ready for a good nights sleep!! Thankfully, we achieved this. 

Waking up on the train feeling well rested, our group embarked upon a trip to the most famous sight in Xi'an- the army of terracotta warriors. After a pitstop to our hotel to drop our bags and visit the toilet (upon seeing the toilet this proved impossible- worst sight of China so far and someone must have been seriously ill!!!) we made the 90 minute excursion to the museum where these ancient treasures are housed. 

As the terracotta warriors are such an integral part of Chinese history, we had a local guide for the visit to the museum- Howard (or Howie as he liked to be called). He gave a brief introduction to the warriors explaining how recently they were excavated and restored, and why they were created (to go with the first emperor into the afterlife). After this, we were granted some free time to go and see the Army for ourselves. The first room we entered, was the main pit where they had been excavated,  and in this room were over 2000 of the warriors.

What is amazing, is the fact that each warrior looks different and it makes you appreciate the amount of time which must have gone into their creation. 

The second and third excavation pits weren't as developed as the first. They were both still works in progress and you could see that the excavation of the army is still underway. Although it was disappointing to see these rooms following the major exhibit, it was still interesting to see that the discovery of the army is still a work in progress. 

One of the highlights in these two rooms was the option to take a photo with a few terracotta warriors and our group made the most of this opportunity joining the queue of Chinese tourists to pose accordingly.....

After this, we visited another exhibit which to be honest was terrible. We were informed that this was a large bronze exhibit (doesn't really sound interesting anyway) with the largest bronze chariot in the world, but what actually transpired was a room with a tiny chariot in a could have barely held small toddler..... Apologies for the lack of photos but it really wasn't interesting.

After the museum, we had the opportunity to visit a local families house for lunch which was great as it offered the opportunity to eat more authentic food! Mr and Mrs Wang cooked us a great selection of meat, veg and pancakes... (Shredded potato is a particular local favourite by the looks of things) 

 After lunch, we headed back to the hotel and finally had the opportunity to shower which after a night train and a morning of sightseeing was welcome!!!! After a quick refresh, we headed our for dinner to a local dumpling restaurant which Howard had recommended. All the dumplings were shaped like different things such as this.....

After dinner, we headed for a few drinks at a local bar (as per usual). The bar street in Xi'an has quite a good selection and you can haggle over drinks prices which you definitely couldn't do in the Uk!! We managed to get large bottles of beer for £1.00 which you can't really complain about! Apart from the crazy Chinese local singer screeching down the microphone, it was all pretty good....

The next day we woke up late which was very welcome after all the late nights and early starts of late. Sadly however, we both woke up with slightly upset stomachs. Xi'an is much dirtier than either Beijing or Shanghai and we think that the sanitation caused it. Walking outside the hotel, the street is covered in sewage water, occasional excrement and various other gross things. The stench was pretty unbearable and that alone would probably be enough to make you ill!! 

We wanted to go somewhere safe for lunch not to exacerbate the ails, so we went to Pizza Hut. After this, we pretty much just had a bit of a wander around Xi'an (definitely not the nicest city so far)!! After a relaxing day, we grabbed a bite to eat but that was about all our stomachs could handle so we called it a night-- not our best or most productive day in China so far!!!

The next day was another travelling day, but before getting the train we had a few more hours to kill. I went with the girls to get my nails done and have a pampering session....

... While Rob walked around the shopping centre and the local indoor market with one of the guys to see what cheap souvenirs were on offer. Apparently, none of the shops in these markets have changing rooms so all the clothes they tried on were done so in the middle of the shop!

It was one of the guys birthday the next day, so we all chipped in for a present and birthday cake. Not the best present, we bought him a giant statue of a terracotta warrior called Mandialay (this means Easy tiger in Chinese) which isn't the easiest thing to fit into a backpack! 

After the day, we headed to the station (again) and got on the night train to Chongqing which is where we were getting the bus from to our Yangszte river cruise! The train was the worst so far as it was filled with screaming babies and loud Chinese families. Some 6-bed cabins seemed to have at least 10 locals in them!

The taxi drive from chongqing station also wasn't great as our driver was a maniac who didn't seem to understand or care about road rules.....

Our group were squashed like sardines so thankfully couldn't fly through the windscreen. Considering he didn't speak any English, the taxi driver did seem to strike up a rapport with rob which basically in loved speaking louder and slower Chinese at him.

The taxi dropped us off at a 'Clock Hotel' which charged by the hour (lovely) and had this in the room....

It wasn't great, but we did shower off the filth from the night train and there was a huge supermarket near by for us to stock up on food and booze for the boat. We ended up going a bit wild in the 'imported' aisle with jam and other delights!! We then got on another bus to the boat cruise but as this is getting very long I will update about that soon......Ciao!

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