Published: November 15th 2011November 16th 2011
The train to Xian was actually 15 hours. The two Chinese lads we shared the 4 bed cabin with at first glance appeared to be more the ‘computer nerd’ type that would not be spitting on the floor. They ate really loud and snored even louder but other than they were ok. In fairness Aoife gave them a run for their money with the snoring. At one point I think the three of them had a snoring symphony playing, not the good type!!! I slept for about 3 hours or so which was fairly rough. Some comedy on the ipod helped me through it. The toilets on the train were the worst we have seen, a subject I will be dedicating a post to when we have the blog set up!! It was written on the train with the smell wafting through the carriages so I’m fairly irate.
Finally we arrived in Xian around 10am on Saturday morning (left Friday at 7pm). Walking out of the station was like walking into a sea of Chinese. The area was the most densely populated area we have seen since we have been here. It was overwhelming, particular after so little sleep. As
Miniature Terracotta Warrior
The Chinese lads were loving this as if nobody had ever thought of doing that before...
the only white people (we’ve seen very few in Xian) all eyes were on us. We eventually found our way to the hostel which was our sanctuary from a fairly bleak city. It was really clean, safe and there was a good atmosphere there. The city of Xian was a disappointment given that it is one of China’s oldest cities and one of their four great ancient capitals of China. On our first day there we cycled the full perimeter of the historic Xian Wall which was built in 1370 during the Ming Dynasty. It is about 8 ½ miles and it’s a fairly bumpy ride!
The following day we visited the Terracotta Warriors, the main reason we came to Xian. They are about an hour outside the city. In 221 BC Qin Shi Huang, who started the Qin Dynasty, unified China and became their first emperor. When he became emperor he ordered the building of his grave. Believing in the afterlife he ordered the construction of the terracotta warriors to protect the grave. He died before it was finished but over the many years of construction there was around 8000 warriors made. The site was only found in
1974 by a farmer digging a well for water because there was a drought. The guy is a living legend now. They wheel him out for all the big wigs. We saw him signing books but there was no pictures allowed. There is still a lot of archaeological work going on. Restoring one warrior can take half a year. The site was brilliant and we had a tour guide who provided some very interesting historical information.
The city of Xian was an underwhelming experience but without doubt worth visiting to be able to witness the Terracotta Warriors. Up early tomorrow (14th) to get a flight to Hong Kong. We’re both dying of head colds. It was only a matter of time before I caught something with the Chinese spitting, coughing and sneezing everywhere!
There are more photos below