We arrived at the huge modern sprawling building that was Beijing train station. It was much bigger than an English airport it had about 3 McDonald's inside. ( no I didn't try them all out - just 2). Our train was like something from the future all modern and shiny, they call them bullet trains but it looked more like an aeroplane ( it didn't have wings though). Inside there was more space then any plane train or bus I have ever been on. It's weird, why do these guys need so much leg room, their legs don't even touch the floor. Although it was the best train we had been on, it also had the most trouble. One man had an argument with the trolley dolly big style they were shouting at each other and everyone was getting involved, then another man got caught smoking in the toilet and all hell broke loose, there was security and police and they were shouting at him, proper telling him off in front of everyone, it seemed like all the staff turned up to have a go, then he was frog marched off. The ticket was expensive at £50 but it did cover over 700 miles at up to 190 miles an hour. A few hours later we arrived in Xian. It was gone 10pm and the station was about half an hour from our hostel. All the buses had stopped and the subway was still in the process of being built. Outside we found a taxi, the taxi driver wanted £10 to take us to our hostel this was 4 times the price it should have been, haggling was useless, he knew we didn't have any other option. So our first impression of Xian was being ripped off. It's funny we have been to lots of places where they warn you against all kinds of scams and trouble, but often the places they say are the most unsafe turn out to be the best, it's in the touristy areas where the people have honed there skills to squeeze every penny out of foreigners where you have to have your wits about you. And it's always taxi drivers the world over, they always speak perfect English until it comes to paying. Anyway any thoughts of strangling the driver melted away when I saw the city for the first time. It was all lit up with lights strung around imposing pagodas and temples and all surrounded by a huge city wall. We arrived at our hostel, a large stone building with big gates, the kind you would expect in a castle and big stone dragons guarding the entrance. Inside it was all open plan, dimly lot by lanterns with a kind of outside inside courtyard. Apparently some emperor had lived here so the government had restored and protected it. Our room was huge with traditional Chinese furniture and a bathroom of our own. They were still serving food down the stairs so we crashed out in a little booth with cosy sofas and grabbed a beer and dinner. I had egg fried rice but when it came it was what we would call special fried rice wrapped in a giant eggy thing like a cross between a pancake and an omelette - it was delicious. It seemed fitting that this place was built for an emperor all those years ago and now I had come to stay, guess that's the circle of life.