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Published: March 23rd 2009
20th March 2009
Our train arrived at 0630, and as we left the station we were met by the huge city walls of the old city of Xi'an, which surrounded the neon lights of McDonalds, KFCs and countless other chains. We immediately realised that this would be our first taste of 'big city' China. Xi'an, as one of China's first capitals, has a long history spanning over 3000 years, meaning Xi'an was a bustling city long before Rome even existed. It was also the eastern terminus of the famous Silk Road. As much as this is evident, the city has very much moved with the times, and you cant help but be swept along with the crowds. After we had checked into our hostel - and had the obligatory quick nap - we bustled our way along to the ancient Bell Tower and Drum Tower, which were quite an eclectic sight nestled between Starbucks and shopping Malls. From here we went to the Muslim Quarter, which is a crazy little area of narrow streets lined with market stalls selling beautiful arts and crafts, all kinds of strange foods, and every souvenir you can think of....a few of which we bought.
The Muslim Quarter.
the evening, we retraced our footsteps from earlier in the day to see the sights lit up. The Towers were lit really nicely, and the Muslim Quarter really came alive with the hawkers and shoppers bantering for bargains. We had set our sights on a 'point and eat' style restaurant for dinner - this time you could see the food in front of you before buying, ruling out any chicken feet shaped errors - which was great, and the locals seemed particularly keen to see what we selected and how we had mastered the art of chopsticks! For the record; sweet pork, fried rice, fried chicken and shrimp rolls.....and not very well.....
21st March 2009
Around 200B.C, Qin Shi Huang succeeded in uniting eastern China for the first time, and hence named himself the 'First Emperor'. When he died, he was laid to rest in the largest mausoleum the world had ever - and possibly has ever - seen. Not content with this, he raised an army to defend his tomb in the afterlife, and today we went to see them. The Terracotta Army is the self proclaimed 8th Wonder of The World, and having been there we can
The Drum Tower.
appreciate the claim. Each warrior is unique in design, and life size. The warriors are set out in battle formation; Kneeling archers at the front, then standing archers, cavalry, and Horse drawn Chariots. Thousands have been excavated so far, but it is thought that thousands more are still waiting to be dug out. They are set out in 3 separate vaults, and we started in the largest, which is simply breathtaking when you walk in and look down among them. The pit stretches back 200 metres, and is 60 metres wide. The whole site is very well maintained, set in lovely grounds, with a great little museum and an interesting - if a tad dated - documentary. It was something we had been looking forward to from the start, and like the Taj and Angkor Wat, it didn't disappoint.
After a bumpy bus ride back to Xi'an (the warriors are 40km outside the city), we were feeling a little hungry...and so feeling adventurous we set about sampling as much of the street vendors good as we could. We ate spicy pork skewers, steamed dumplings, ice creams, and green muffins. Some were tastier than others!
In the evening we made it
The iconic army...
our mission to find a place to watch the final games of the 6 Nations. We failed, but we did stumble across a brilliant band, in a country'n'western bar, and so sat enjoying such Chinese classics as "Hit Me Baby One More Time", and " Sweet Home Alabama". They were actually very good.
22nd March 2009
Being a relatively late night (for us!), we slept in til 10ish. We checked out as we had our over night train later, and then sat in various cafes drinking coffee, reading, and of course eating. All the nothingness made us hungry, and so we headed back to the street vendors for more pork skewers, duck pancakes, dumplings, sweetcorn and more cake. At 2000 we were at the train station awaiting our train, and looking forward to our next stop....Beijing!
Happy Mothers Day to our Mums! Hope everyone at home is well, we have been speaking about you all a lot whilst we sit eating.....believe it or not we've LOST weight!!
On a sadder note, our memory stick containing all of our photos from China has been corrupted somehow, and we have lost all of our pictures. We're hopeful that it
can be recovered when we return home, but we're not sure that they can be saved. We're both gutted to say the least, but at least we have a few pictures on our blogs - except his one - and of course our own memories.
Love to all
H and D
(Photos added 28th May 2009)
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