Arrived in Xian yesterday, did the orientation walk with our guide, Frank. he is an interesting fellow - he used to fight as a kid in the streets of Beijing till his parents moved him to another school, he used to ride motorbikes but was in a bad accident - escaped with just a broken wrist. He graduated easily from his degree in English, worked as an engineer for a year or two and now travels with dirty foreigners up and down Asia - he is only 28. He is an amazing source of information, very funny and provides great insight in to the Cinese-way of thinking. Anyhoo..
The orientation tour lasted 90 mins, we got to drop off our laundry, which cost Sharan and i a mere 12 pounds for about a week's load each - we learnt the Chinese symbol for internet (like a fishing net), saw the Bell Tower, Drum Tower, city walls, Muslim quarter with market, where to shop, where not to go and then we were left to our own devices....we went straight to the hotel to sleep as the train journey was a long'un.
After this tour, Sharan rightly asked 'what else is there we could do?', as the main activity was to ride the city walls on a bone-shaking bike. Reports from our fellow tour group members indicated that it was 'ok' - we may do this yet, but won't be too bothered if not. The smog here is twice as bad as in Beijing, so views and pictures are accordingly restricted.
Finished off the night by having the best meal of the trip so far, in a muslim restaurant known to Frank - we shared at least a dozen dishes, from chicken in stew with tomatoes, to vegetables and beef - it was scrumptious, i ate a chicken's foot, which was nice - see the photo in the relevant album - and we ended the night with a beer in a bar. Now Sharan and i are sticking to a budget and it helped that for all the food we ate, the cost of the meal was 75p a head, which we washed down with a big bottle of beer....which cost 30p.
Today, we made our way with the assistance of a guide, via public transport, to see the Terracotta Warriors - the world famous '8th wonder'. It was an impressive sight and tells of an impressive and intersting story in the history of the country of China - the tour was quite anti-climactic, howver, as we started with the warriors, moved on to a smaller site with some horsemen, and ended with a preserved and entirely covered pit of soil where more soldiers layed undisturbed. The jewel in the crown for the museum were two half-sized bronze chariots that took 2 and 3 years to piece back together respectively.
Slept on the coach on the way back, collected my freshly ironed clothes, Sharan grabbed a Chinese 'burger' and that brings us right up to date.
As per my previous post, there will always be things that i forget so may just insert them 'as and when'. let the adventure contine, we move on tomorrow and a 16 hour train journey awaits. Wish us luck.