Monday 12 November. Sunny and cold
We check out of the hotel today as we're catching the overnight train to Xian, departing at 8.50 tonight. We've decided we need to buy another suitcase today just so we can store all of the things we've bought seeing as we were quite literally sitting on our cases to do them up. First though we visited the Lama Temple which is built in a similar fashion to the Forbidden City, just on a smaller scale. This temple is where guys learn to become monks. It has the chair that the Dhali Lama used to sit in and the tallest wooden Budda in the world which is made out of one piece of sandlewood.
After leaving there we were driven to the Silk Street markets. This is where we haggled the price for the items we wanted to buy. It was an interesting experience and Debbie was really good at it. I got ripped off when Mum said she paid 10 yuan less for the same thing l'd just bought, grrrr! We bought our extra suitcase from this market for 150 yuan which is just over $25. We also picked up a few souvenirs as well as a scarf, handbags and a wallet. From this market we were driven to another one that sold knock offs of all the expensive brands. Before starting our shopping we had lunch from a very "professional" (that's what the waitress said upon seating us), pizza place, and actually it was pretty good. After satisfying our tummies we headed off to have a look around and hopefully pick up some bargains. This market was much more aggressive than the last one and we were over it quite quickly. Debbie bought a pair of Abercrombie & Finch track pants, tshirt and hoodie for 350 yuan (less than $60). We also picked up more wallets and handbags. We did a really good job of filling up the new suitcase! At one stage Debbies stopped to look in a shop and Mum didn't realise and kept on walking. I didn't want her wandering off by herself so after several attempts to attract her attention l finally called out "Audrey" which got her attention along with about half a dozen shop keepers who were then calling out Audrey, Audrey, hello Audrey in very loud voices. It was really quite amusing.
So from that market our guide took us into the CBD to Snack Street where Debbie, Mum and Rachael ate a scorpion each!! Ewwww!! There were 3 live ones on a stick, like a kebab, and after paying (25 yuan) they're deep fried for eating!! Double ewwww!!! At least we knew they were fresh. We had about an hour to look around before meeting back at the bus and driving to the station. Our tour guide made sure we got on the train and in the correct compartments before farewelling us. 3 of the others joined us in our compartment for drinks(we bought the wine last night) and dinner, finally crawling into our vety hard bunks by 11pm. There is a western toilet at one end of our carriage and a squat at the other end. No prizes for guessing which one we used. At the moment l'm writing this after a fairly interruptive sleep on our ironing boards.