Published: November 23rd 2007September 30th 2007
The forgotten army
I picked out just one of the vast array of terrocotta warriors on display. We were spoilt for choice, and to think that every single warrior is different.
China was always going to be interesting in more ways than one. Our arrival into Beijing, however, could have been better timed.
It was the first day of a week long national holiday which means all major attractions and methods of travel throughout the country are either fully booked or not worth paying for due to the crippling masses of Chinese people eager to make the most of their precious time away from their increasingly demanding jobs.
The first thing we noted on arrival into the city from the airport was how rigid and military like the guards were. There's a real sense of control over the city here like we had imagined.
Our plans had to be altered slightly for the first week because all trains were fully booked in and out of Beijing for 6 days. In that time we managed to squeeze into Ti'anamen square (the worlds largest public square no less) and also marvel at the incredible Forbidden City. We knew we had to fly out of Beijing, so we left the great wall until last.
When we did finally leave Beijing to head to Xi'an, it was via a hard seat. The
This guy was deep in concentration but he allowed me to photograph him inside the monastery. I gave a small donation as a thank you.
most deluxe parts of the train (soft and hard sleeper) were all booked so it was a fairly uncomfortable 12-hour journey.
Xi'an is visited by most for one thing - the terracotta warriors. We set aside 3 days in total to see what is touted as the 8th wonder of the world. The mind-boggling display of soldiers in 3 pits is well worth a visit and is still an active archaeological site.
We then focused our sights on seeing the giant panda's at the panda breeding station in Chengdu (16 hours on from Xi'an).
Unfortunately for Lisa, her ability to contract every bug and virus going was a sure sign that she wasn't going to hold one this time around.
Panda's in China are treated like national treasures. Its the death penalty if you kill one, and instant wealth if you help an injured/sick one in the wild.
Not many people can resist a visit to the panda's if they are in the area.
To mix things up on our itinerary, we traveled to Emei Shan, which is a small town at the foot of Mt Emei. Neither of us had spent the night on a
Sichuan golden snub-nosed monkey
These particular monkeys were forming a road block on the way up Mt Emei. They are opportunists and very cheeky so its best to hide all your posessions.
mountain before, so we made all the necessary enquiries and then set off early one morning.
Nearly 9hrs into the hike, we came across a place to rest overnight. It wasn't cheap but it was our safest option. At this point, it was freezing both inside and outside our accommodation, which was the downside to the trip.
Lisa decided that she valued her health more than being able to say she reached the pinnacle of Mt Emei, so I scaled the final section myself and took some great pictures to look back on.
Back on flat ground, we visited Le Shan and the worlds biggest Buddha (carved into the cliff face). It stands at 71m tall and you could actually have a picnic on its fingernail - an awesome sight.
We then had two options, do we keep following the well-trodden tourist path towards Shanghai, or do we go west towards Tibet and encounter a slightly more 'off the beaten track' feel. We decided to take the latter option, which landed us in a place called Kangding.
Kangding was once part of Tibet until the 1950s when China invaded and claimed the land for themselves. However,
Man resting in a hutong
This was taken as I wondered around Kangding in the Sichuan province. I think black and white complements the mood best.
Kangding still adopts a Tibetan fell and is regarded as the closest experience you'll get outside of Tibet.
The language barrier was a real problem and our first meal that was eaten with very welcoming Tibetan hosts, had nothing more than sign language at the table to communicate. It was still an unexpected highlight to our visit.
The scenery was sublime with rivers thrashing down the centre of the village and snow capped mountains all around. The only downside to this is that at 2800m above sea level, the temperature was constantly cold making it hard to get warm. Nobody could afford electricity so it was hearty meals all round to get you through (mostly yak).
Although cold, we did an exciting trip to the hailougou glacier in Moxi.
A tip to anyone visiting in the near future is wearing some crampons for your feet as Chris opted to go without and basically slid on his backside the whole way.
On a clear day, you can see Gonga Shan, which stands at 7550m.
A 7hr journey back to Chengdu insured a warmer climate and easy access back to Beijing to catch our flight over to Australia.
Traditional chinese food
This is a typical sight all over China, in every market, food stall and restaurant. The food is amazing and plentiful.
full day at the great wall of China on a 10km hike and a quick half day sightseeing around the unfinished Olympic park wrapped up an incredibly quick 4 weeks in China.
We were left wanting more and a trip back in the near future is definitely on the cards.
There are more photos below