Trip Start Mar 14, 2008
Trip End Mar 31, 2008

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

To all who read my China 2007 blog, here is some news to amuse you; Dad just found his ticket for the Z20. For those who aren't up to scratch, this time last year, we were going on an overnight train (the Z20) to Xi'an to see the Terracotta Warriors. We took the taxi to the train station, but our taxi driver missed the turn-off, so Dad gave him his ticket to look at to know where we needed to go. Dad thought that the driver never gave his ticket back accidentally, and it caused hours and hours of trouble at the train station trying to organize a replacement ticket. Today dad opened his wallet and found it. It was so surprising. But when you find something, you lose something. We took taxis to the CCTV tower to look at, and Dad had his treasured GPS on the dashboard, tracking the way. We got out of the taxis in a hurry, leaving the GPS on the dashboard, yet we only realized this after the taxi was ling gone. We sat outside the CCTV tower, calling Sammy and Yumei and our hotel, trying to see if they could find the taxi based on the I.D number that Dad remembered. We decided to go inside anyway. To get inside, you buy your tickets, then go into the foyer before you get into the lift. The lift was squishier than the subway·hard to believe, I know. The lift has its own little flight attendant, who talks as you go to the top floor.

The top floor is an outdoor observation deck. It was quite windy, but the view was magnificent. It was high-rise apartment buildings as far as the eye could see. You couldn't see the Forbidden City or the Temple of Heaven, or anything, but it was still worthwhile to look at. It was almost sad to see such a small area of traditional buildings, and the rest was apartment buildings.

We went down a floor to the inside observation deck, which was set up with many souvenir shops. They had many displays and photo opportunities. There was also a massive red scrawl, which was used to write your name on it. It was full, and even my small name was hard to fit in. We got our pictures taken and printed on bookmarks for us. When we had had enough, we took the elevator with the 'flight' attendant down. We decided to take taxis to the Underground City. They took us to outside the Hutong area, but from there we had no idea where to go after the loss of Dad's GPS. After getting lost a few times, we finally succumbed to a very persistent rickshaw driver, who we ended up paying to follow to the Underground City.
The Underground City is the most understated tour sight in China. With a tiny, tiny green sign outside an ordinary looking door, you could walk past it many times without realising it. The Undergound City was built in the 1960's at Chairman Mao's insistence. It consists of three floors, but only one is open to the public. It was very well thought-out and planned. It has a cinema for watching documentaries about the war. There was a battlefield library and a hospital. We did not get to go inside these rooms, but the outside looked very nice. A Chinese tour is not complete without the souvenir shopping in the middle, in this case with silk as the main thing to buy. We didn't want to browse, and the tour was soon over. The tour inside is very short, but so interesting. It was a very innovative thing in those days, and it can house about 6 million people. The tunnels were well lit and decorated with photos. It was also interesting to wonder, even now, why it is not publicised at all, and why it is still so secretive.
We were hungry, so we stopped off at a local restaurant for lunch. The service was so slow, but it was worth it in the end. You don't realise how westernised the Chinese food is back home until you come here and eat real sweet-and-sour pork. It tastes so much better, in my opinion.
Although mum was hoping for a shopping-free day, we had some spare time, so we went to the Yong'anli Pearl market again. It's turned out to be our favourite. We only had an hour, but we got a lot done. From the market, we caught the subway home to get ready for dinner. Dinner tonight was out big one with Sammy, Sammy's fiancé Faye (who dad accidentally called 'buffet' a few times), Rebecca, Rebecca's parents, Ian, Judy and Yumei. Yumei and Rebecca's parents, Mr and Mrs. Zhang, had already ordered for us by the time we got there. Once everybody else arrived, the food came out. It was a really nice evening.

Judy and Ian gave us all lovely gifts and the conversation was flowing. It ended to soon, as we had to go to the police station.

It was about the GPS; the hotel was able to get on to the taxi driver later in the day, but he denied seeing it. To get travel insurance to cover it, we had to file a police report within 24 hours. We all went back to the rooms and got into bed while mum and dad went, which was an interesting story in itself.
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katemel on

You just gave Nana a heartattack
Hi. Well the small part of your travel pod that you have now removed gave Nana a big fright. Then Andy didn't respond to SMS. I think she had thoughts of making a quick journey up there to bail you all out!!!!
Glad all is well and it was only a GPS unit. Nana remembers the ticket drama VERY well and can't believe you found it.
Take care'Love A Kate, Melissa, Nana & Pa

robynne on

Underground City
I have been waiting for underground city update and it sounds like it was worth the wait. I'm glad you all found it - well worth seeing by the sounds of things. I real shame about the GPS, hope you have no trouble recouping through insurance. Gald to hear to are all safe and well.

Love Aunty Robs

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