After another night train on a hard sleeper from Pingyao - we'd met great people getting on the train - this time all the foreigners were put together (all three groups of us!) - we were all waiting in our line on the platform where Carriage 13 would pull in and got talking. There was a really great couple of women from Malaysia and a lovely couple from Belgium (except they were about 20 and she looked like a gazelle, so long and skinny and beautiful and her English was spoken with a French accent..... and here's us, twenty years older with two kids in tow and I definitely don't look like a gazelle!!!). We arrived into Xi'an at 7am - and Oh. My. God. - the crowds of people at the train station trying to get the passengers to take their taxi, or sell us maps, or fruit, or begging..it was like being assaulted by a thousand voices and people, so much so that I had to walk back into the station to get away from them. Maybe it was because I had just woken up, but it was too much. I was grabbing onto the kids with my hands, as there were people surrounding us all from every angle - but one guy who'd come up to offer a taxi, we ended up taking him, he was the nicest, the best presented, spoke good English and agreed a decent price (10 yuan - 1 euro twenty cent!!!!).
Donal then negotiated with him for him to be our driver for the day. We've never hired a driver before in China, even though loads of people said we should have one to go to various places before now, but we've always managed on public transport and never had a problem. But we're short on time today - one day to see all of Xi'an and the Terracotta Warriors are about an hour outside of the city. Delighted we did so - first of all we went to Banpo village - which is a stone age village outside of Xi'an, which we'd never have done if we'd have been doing public transport. It was so interesting - kids really loved it, they had real skeletons and burial places, which is all kids really need to be engaged with the history of the place!!
Terracotta Army - wow! Amazing to see them in real life, but also to see just how BIG the army was. They have a model showing the tiny amount that is excavated but how far they much stretch to underground. Was fantastic to see real-life archeologists working away onsite too.
Back to Xi'an city and we wandered around the Muslim Quarter for an hour, and visited the Mosque, down a small alley - then back to the hotel as we were to be up for 4.30am for our flight to Guilin. This really is a tale of Planes, Trains and Automobiles!!!