Population: 6.8M Province: Shaanxi Location: Located on the Silk Road
Arrived in Xi'an (former Imperial Capital) this morning around 8.30am on the overnight train from
Beijing...great fun...slept in a cabin of sorts (open door into thin corridor...that sleeps 6) I was in the middle bunk with George on the top bunk...Jules and Gen on the bottom bunks and Tom opposite me with John on the other top bunk...the others were in the cabin next door...what an
experience...only met these folks 5 days ago, how to get to know your fellow travellers very quickly.
The journey to the Beijing train station was in itself another adventure...we were waiting for the train in the waiting room and all of a sudden (and I'm not exaggerating) 100's of chinese folks gathered round us pointing and staring (...so this is what stardom feels like...tee hee!) our
guide Huang said that some of them have not seen Westerners before as they are travelling through Beijing from the countryside...it was a little scary at first but as we got used to it, we had quite a laugh with them...taking their photos and showing them on the camera, which they were completely amazed by...it shocked me to think that some of these people had not seen
Westerners before, brings it home that we are in a complete culturally foreign environment.
Xi'an itself is very different from Beijing, so much more cosmopolitan, the presence of the military and police is much less and there are loads more beggars...children with very bad disabilities...heart wrenching, but we can't go round giving them money as it would cause a riot. We had a free day today, checked into the hotel early...9.30 which was handy as none of us
had had showers etc...met up with Huang at 10.30 then explored the city...visited a few places of interest as it has to be done...bought a PC memory card reader...cross fingers its gonna work.
Visited the Shaanxi History Museam and the Great Goose Pagoda, trying to take in a little bit of culture!
Another morning start to visit the Terracotta Warriors, situated an hour's drive from the city. I was really looking forward to seeing these, but was a little disappointed in the whole thing, I expected to see so many more than we did.
Have learned a few more Chinese words....'easy tiger' (Huang finds this funny)...'how much' and can almost count to 10 (speech and sign language)...not bad after 5 days me thinks!!
Huang the guide is a good laugh...about 28 years old so in with what is happening socially etc. He's going to take us to a local club which will be fun...although have nothing to wear only my big clompy non sexy walking boots, at times like this I miss my best wardrobe!!
The centre of Xián is enclosed by an enormous city wall and most of the group cycled along the wall, about 14k, late afternoon, haven't been on a bike for quite a while so was a little nervous, but it was great fun...watched the sun set as you can see by some of the pics...was walking a little like John Wayne the next day!
Crossing the roads in the city was taking your life in your hands...Tom had a great mantra "they don't exist...they don't exist" we were all chanting it whilst trying to avoid becoming road kill (sorry mum!) and it seemed to work strangely enough!! There must be some sort of order in the traffic chaos, but not sure what!
We headed into the Muslim Quarter for our evening meal and sampled the local Sichuan Hotpot, that was an experience, I mostly eat veg...still not quite sure what the meat exactly is...took a couple of pics for you to see.
Day 7 we left the city mid afternoon to catch the overnight train (17 hours or so) to Chengdu.
Hope all is well with you all, take care, speak soon...must dash...will try and upload photos now, wish me luck...lots of love and huge hugs.