Accommodation in Xi'an was May 1st - described as above a dumpling shop - but it was much more than that.It was very comfortable but was essentially a Chinese fast food place - which was extremely popular and very good. Everything was on display and had tremendous variety although some things we didn't test! The weather too had changed considerably - it was warm and humid - and as we discovered at our next stop food and drink had changed to winter fare - hot orange and hot milk for example.
As we were becoming concerned about the lack of internet access etc, we weet on a hunt for an internet cafe and wandered and wandered to no avail.Eventually went asked at a China Mobile shop ("internet access?" throughout China was greeted with blank looks) but the girls confered and wrote down some words in Chinese for a taxi driver.Venturing outside we hailed a taxi who headed off in any direction. After a few miles he had a bump! A minor confrontation later and confabulation we headed off (with much wheel scraping) for another few miles eventually to be dumped at the Big Goose Pagoda (see photo album).With no sign of an internet cafe we agreed we'd been sent on a wild goose pagoda chase!!
However, in the humidtity - very tiring after Beijing - we had a look around the Pagoda and very pleasant it was too. A highlight?? was a pea & ham iced lolly (serious!).Can't say we'll have many more. It being Sunday, the place was heaving - clearly China enjoying itself.On this subject, we've found China and the Chinese very interesting and pleasant.They seem generally very happy with their lot, always willing to help (especially when an English speaker is needed).
When we got back to May 1st we found an internet cafe next door! Nuff said!!We sorted out our onward rail tickets (to Chengdu) and got ourselves onto a trip which included the Terracotta Warriors the following day..................which turned out to be wet and pouring with rain. Undetered by the weather and a very early start we eventually found ourselves in a wee bus with loads of Chinese too many infact as some had to stand).Already planning how to keep our seats when we hit the first of 6 scheduled stops.we reached the city walls we were decamped into other mini buses.Soon we were in another then another and 5 buses & 2 hours later we were on the way through the rain and murky haze. Frankly there's not much to say (as there wasn't much to see) about the early stops (apart from disgusting toilets). We visited the site of the Xi'an incident, the mausolem of the Qin Shi Huang (who first united China as a nation and who had the Terracotta Warrioirs made to protect his tomb), various museums.But the highlight certainly was the Terracotta Warriors and which are mightily impressive both in scale and conception. We lost our bus party and enjoyed wandering around on our own but would have liked more time at that site.
This area is big pomegranite counbtry and everyone was bag loads og poms and other fruit.On the way back the haze lifetd slightly to reveal a hint of mountains which would have been really lovely countryside had the weather been kinder.But as we agreed on a 2 year year journet we're going to come up against some inclement days.
The day after we checked into a 5 star hotel (at Chinese prices) for some R&R and much needed laundry - such luxury and enjoyed it but could have been anywhere - before heading off the following day to Chengdu.
The trip to Chengdu was a great journey through some wonderful mountain scenery as the train climbed. We had hit the dining car as soon as we left Xi'an and joined by Leon from New Zealand attempted to get some lunch.Nearly thwarted we held our ground as all train staff took their seats for a veritable feast.We asked for the same - meat and potatoes, spicy aubergine, vegetables and rice (less than £3 for the 3 of us) - delicious!
A few beers in the evening (what else!) and we headed off to the bunk.This, however, was the poorest journey so far as the train wasn't too clean and crawling with cockroaches. But we slept fitfully.