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Published: August 22nd 2011
We were ushered out of the hostel very early thank god, however we were hearded into KFC for breakfast, something we were not expecting and not particularly happy with, especially as one of the boys on tour is a coeliac and a diabetic meaning that a KFC breakfast was not great for him. After a sprite for breakfast and many miserable faces, we headed on our trip for the day which was to the Longmen Grottos, which are huge caves in the sides of the mountains right by a river. It was a lovely place with hundreds of caves carved into rock with huge buddha statues carved into the rock face. It was an impressive sight especially as it has not been restored and is claimed to be thousands of years old. Our visit concentrated on the Guyang Cave where there were three huge buddha statues towering within the mountain side overlooking the river. Today the weather was slightly cooler, however after climbing up to see the caves we were all still dripping in sweat.
From the caves we went for lunch (more Chinese food!) and headed to the train station where we were to board our train to Xi'an. I am incredibly excited about Xi'an, it is somewhere I have always wanted to go in China and I am very excited to walk along the city wall that they have there. Also we have had a few problems on the tour (the hostel/tour guide in Beijing, the hostel in Luoyang and other general complaints) so we are looking forward to met the trip co-ordinator who is based in Xi'an (pronounced She-Ann) and resolve some of the issues we have been having.
The train journey was pretty uneventful, just lots of book reading and card playing and actually the five hours went fairly quickly and it was not as hot and stuffy as our journey the other day. We arrived in Xi'an at around 8ish and were met with the amazing view of the city walls all lit up at night. We were picked up by another tour guide (we get a new one in every city) this tour guide however appeared drunk and was not terribly talkative so the journey with him was pretty quiet. We arrived around 9.30pm to a residential area of Xi'an around 30 minutes away from the actual city centre where we were to be staying in a high rise complex for the next 9 nights. We were taken to our apartment on the 25th floor (amazing views but not great if you're scared of heights!) and the place has a small kitchen, a big enclosed balcony and living room and three bedrooms. The girls got the two six bed dorms and the three boys went in the four bed dorm and everyone seemed fairly happy with the place. The apartment was sparse but we were taken to another highrise building called Building 6 about 5 minutes walk away where the main Real Gap volunteers live. We were told that this is where we would come to chill out, socialise with the other volunteers and eat dinner. Here we have internet, TV and DVD player, washing machine, lockers, it is pretty luxurious. We had a late dinner of spag bol and headed to bed ready for our 10am orientation tomorrow...
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