Trip Start Apr 01, 2005
71Trip End Aug 08, 2005
The train journey was surprising simple. Nobody spoke English, but our train ticket had all the details. The train was great, we where on a sleeper carriage which was very comfortable despite the horror stories from the lonely planet(17 hours though).
We meet a few students from Boston who where teaching English in Beijing. They told us of an underground city built by Kids under Mao in case of war. They where told by the families they where staying with and went to see it through an entrance in the Hutong. Aparently the underground city had hospitals apartment blocks shopping areas all under the city. The train had hostessed that went up an down every 5 minutes with food and drinks and they where unbelievable nice. Everthing was cleaned every half hour so ti was spotless. Never seen anything like the efficiency and the train was exactly on time, both departure and arrival
We where picked up at the station and brought to the Hostel by minibus (free service). It was 6 in the morning but managed to have breakfast and drag ourselves out. The Hostel was right at the South Gate of the city wall which you can see form the pictures. We saw the Bell Tower right in the centre of the city which is what is says a tower with a drum and the Muslim quarter containing super street food. For the rest of the day we go drowneded but the rain. But it turned out to be a good thing because as a result we went back early and I met Andy, a guy we had picked up in our minibus from the great wall, and Lauren a girl from Essex teaching English in a remote village 5 hours from Xi'an.
Lauren was going to the Terracotta Warriers the next day as we where so we arrange to go together which was great a she spoke Chinese. The next day we meet with Dean the guy we had made friends with in Beijing who was all on for the trip, but Lucy and Libby who we had also made friends with and went to the great wall with had taken the hard seat option on the train (this is the cheapest seat, like a bench packed with people smoking and spitting for 17 hours) they weren't up to it (not surprised).
That night we went to had a meal in the Muslim quarter, we had two dishes each and two beers (660ml) for 2 euro and it was superb. We didn't realize but there is a great night life in Xi'an we play Chinese drinking games with Baijo (56%) and headed to a night club Chinese love to copy westerners dance moves. I gave it loads on one of the side stages and then proceeded to jump onto the bar and from there to the central stage, Baijo is rocket fuel. It was so funny watching the Chinese copy us from the stage. I toyed about doing the "Robot" but sense got the better of me.
The next day Lauren, Una, Daren and I explored the City wall, went for food it what only could be described as someone Kitchen (picture in gallery) and we had an audience of locals which was weird but they do love to stare. We also went shopping and for the ancient capital of China they have some nice shops (Rolex, Louis Vutton etc). They have there own stores 2-3 levels and they are real with real prices
That evening we went for dinner and had a speciality, whole chicken chopped up and served with a spicy sauce. I ate Chickens foot and head need I say more. Then a big crowd from the hostel went to a new bar which was in an abandoned fairground, beer was "free" but to go to the toilet you had to cross the fairground at night (another Scooby Doo moment).
On our last day Myself and Una explored the rest of the city taking in the Drum Tower and the Great Mosque. It was the onto the train which was lucky as a few days before we where told it would be 2 weeks before we could get a train to Shanghai. We managed to source a train to Nanjing which has a regular shuttle service to Shanghai. Luckly for us.
Train to Shanghai
We got to the train station in the evening another over night train, sleeper. This time we where the only westerners in the carriage and after 2 hours the two guys opposite us decided they wanted to chat but we hand 3 words of Chinese and they had no English but it went on for 5 hours, details of which I will have in my next installment.....