On the night of Monday, May 17th, Max and I made sure we were at the train station way ahead of schedule. We bought soft sleeper tickets. This meant we were in a cabin with only 2 other people. We had the top bunks and below us were 2 Chinese men who clearly spoke no English. We left at 8 PM. In the ceiling of our cabin was a speaker they used to pipe soft hits throughout the train. This went on until about 10 PM when they turned it off so people could sleep. The 2 Chinese men under us had fallen asleep and when the music was turned off, we could hear both of the them snoring. I looked over at Max the same time he looked at me and we both just started laughing. These guys were synchronized. When one was breathing in, the other would be breathing out. I put my earphones in, which, fortunately, also double as ear plugs, and fell asleep until about 5:30 AM. At that point, I was just lightly dozing until 7:00 AM when they thought it would be a good idea to turn the soft hits on again. Did I tell you how loud the volume was? It was loud enough that if Max and I wanted to talk we had to raise our voices. Luckily, we arrived in Xi'an around 11 AM. It was quite the experience and I was able to see some of the beautiful countryside of China. By the way, Xi'an is pronounced "She-an."
This was the hostel we stayed at in Xi'an. I really liked this place despite the concrete slab that was our bed. You can't tell in this picture, but when you open those doors, the sill of the door came up about 1 and a half feet, so we had to step over it. The hostel had a series of courtyards and houses and everything was open. Again, you can't tell from this picture, but this place held a lot of depth. Also, I liked it because there were four adorable kittens that lived here. Just down the street from the hostel, was this restaurant that Max and I liked so much, we went there for dinner twice. On the second night, we were eating when our waiter came running by, preceded by a rat he was chasing. We had to remind ourselves that we were in China.
This is the bell tower in Xi'an and below is the drum tower. Right around this area is the Muslim Quarter. They have a lot of dried fruits and nuts for sale here and they also have a market where there is plenty of touristy things to buy. This is were I decided to buy Cole and Caroline each a kite and a jade bracelet for myself. Max was a rather good bargainer and got me some great prices on these items.
This is a restored version of one of the gates to the city of Xi'an. Max and I walked around the streets in this area one night. All we really did was walk and take in everything that was happening. A lot of cooking, relaxing and Mahjong playing. I learned how to play Mahjong in Hong Kong and really wanted to bring some tiles home, but they're so heavy! In Xi'an there are a bunch of these guys that ride around on motorized bikes with a sort of cart thing attached to the back that two people can ride in. Everywhere we went, we were asked if we wanted a ride. As we were walking in what we thought was the direction of our hostel one night, we decided to take one just for fun. It was probably a good thing we took it because we were so turned around. It was a crazy ride with a lot of horn honking involved, but we made it back to the hostel.
Of course, the main reason people go to Xi'an is to see the Terra Cotta Warriors. These were only discovered in 1974 by a farmer digging a well. We saw this guy in the gift shop signing autographs. I thought that was kind of funny. I just can't believe China didn't know about this tomb before 36 years ago. Anyway, when they first opened up the tomb, the statues were in pieces. The ones you see in these pictures are only replicas. The reason this emperor's tomb is in Xi'an, is because Xi'an was the capital city for four dynasties. This emperor is actually the guy who first commissioned the building of the Great Wall and I guess he wasn't too well liked because soon after he was buried in his tomb, it was raided and a lot of the statues were broken and ceilings collapsed. Apparently, all the warriors have different faces and they were originally painted. In a museum portion of this place, we actually saw a few warriors that still had a little paint on them. All the warriors carried brass weapons and we saw many of these in the museum as well.
Beijing is that last stop on my China trip. Visit again soon for the final posting!