Published: August 1st 2010June 7th 2010
We only had a week in China so we had to cram a lot in. First off Beijing. We stayed in a really old guest house in Qianmen, near tiananmen square and the forbidden city. Aparently important guests visiting the emperor might have stayed there in days gone by. Unfortunately its let itself go since then but it had aircon and the staff were nice though lacking in english except for one girl who seemed to do 90 % of the work eventhough there was 3 or 4 other girls “working there”.
The smog and dirt is horrendous in Beijing and the general bad manners and habits of the locals didn't endear the place to us. It was quite a change coming from Japan where everyone was so polite and friendly. The forbidden city of “the last emporer”fame was impressive in its sheer scale and history. The night food market nearby was interesting and stinky with such delicacies as snake-on-a-stick, scorpions and sea urchins to name a few.
We took the overnight train to Xi'an, home of the terracotta soldiers. The train was very comfortable, proper beds, and it was nice to safe on accommodation. We could have splurged
and had our own cabin with ensuite but the soft sleeper cabins were better value. Xi'an was just as bad as Beijing with regard to the smog and dirt. We rented a tandem bicycle to circumnavigate the city walls. The walls are quite impressive however there's not much to see as you cycle around. Its not a pretty town. The next day we went to see the terracotta soldiers. Again the scale and history of the place is impressive. Our tour guide wasn't much use and the terracotta chariots weren't there (they had been sent to shanghai for the expo) but it was still cool to see.
We took the night train back to Beijing that evening. The next day we had a tour booked to see the great wall. The “tour”consisted of some guy in a hyundai getz picking up Yvonne, myself and some American guy at the hostel and driving us to the wall. Our “guide” didn't have any english and wasn't of the most pleasant disposition. Unfortunately the smog /fog was shrouding the wall so visibility wasn't great. That night we watched some world cup game with a swiss/german couple we'd met in Xi'an. Before the
game we had some Peking Duck. Yvonne loved it.
Needless to say I was glad to be leaving China at the end of the week. Onwards to Mongolia - it could only get better, surely...
There are more photos below