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Published: August 26th 2007
now that I'm back in Japan, I can blog more thoroughly about my adventures in Xi'an and Shanghai.
Xi'an was definitely a lot more laid back towards tourists than Beijing was despite being one of the top tourist attractions in the country for Western tourists. The heat made us lazy so we settled upon taking the hostel's tour to visit the Terracotta warriors and the tomb of the Emperor. Between taking pictures as the snap-happy tourist that I was, I did glean a few things from our tourist guide. The Emperor was one fierce dude. Terracotta artisans not up to par were quickly and permanently disposed of. It was that or you met your untimely demise being buried alive in the tomb AFTER you satisfactorily crafted terracotta warriors. If you, the artisan, had thoughts of at least sneaking some of the emperor's crafted loot with you to the grave, the rivers of mercury would get to you (as they have prevented archaeologists of today from excavating the tomb).
We had high hopes on our last day in Xi'an of checking out the fabled Taoist Hua Shan mountain these hopes were quickly shot down as we were told our tour bus
would not return in time for us to make our train connection. Not to worry... we had a Tang-erific experience at the Tang Paradise Theme Park. Labelled as Disney-esque it certainly was minus all the rides and being the happiest place on earth. Insert passive amusement such as fishing for goldfish and posing for the camera in front of man-created waterfalls. Also insert bored actors parading around in Tang era dynasty clothing. Result: a surreal theme park experience while being surrounded by Chinese style "Its a small world after all..." music being piped through hidden speakers in the shrubbery.
After the hot humid greeting that was Shanghai, we arrived at our hostel with high expectations of blissful air conditioning and a shower. After demonstrating that we had a reservation, we were instructed to read a letter in English. The expression on our faces mirrored what we were thinking which was... "Ya got to be fracking kidding me. Oh right... this IS China". Basically, we were no longer welcome at our hostel as the previous week, an Italian tourist asked the police to help her find her way home instead of a taxi. Result? 16 policemen took 40 hours
to find this hostel whereas a taxi card and a hostel business card would have got the job done in less than a half hour at a mere cost of less than 30 yuan. As the policemen were slightly annoyed at having spent their day engaging in the "Find the hostel" game... the hostel was ordered to undergo "intensive re-education and re-training". We were quickly shunted off to a local hotel that spoke no english and was definitely not geared towards backpackers. The bright side of all this relocation? Playing dodge the sidewalk life as we had to duck underneath someone's underwear hanging over the sidewalk and squeezing past the bicycle poultry butchers on the sidewalk. Fresh chicken, duck or goose? It was a morning-only offer.
Our tourist adventures in Shanghai were filled with the usual delights: The Bund, French Concession and of course, shopping on Nanjing Road. But best of all? The Shanghai Zoo! The only suitable description of this zoo would be the "Nicest Dirtiest Zoo" we know of. The array of animals stocked were impressive. We saw pandas, and lions, and tigers and even rhinos! Regretfully, the animal exhibits were close enough to human contact that
Those coi would eat you alive
But you can feed them at the Tang Amusement Park
many of the exhibits were substantially littered with drink bottles and food wrappers. We even saw people dropping crackers into the mouths of waiting bears begging below.
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