Feeling somewhat of a warrior myself...
Trip Start Sep 12, 2005
51Trip End Sep 11, 2006
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So, as I had said, Friday I went to the Summer Palace. As usual, I made a huge palaver out of getting there though. Got a tube to the station my travel book says is the nearest - PAH - thankfully looking like a hapless gringo does have it's advantages sometimes - some Chinese guy came over and eventually worked out what I needed to do - get another tube, then a taxi to the Gardens. All well and good, but I got dropped off to a different gate than my book starts it's tour at, and ended up getting hopelessly lost - it's a massive park, bigger than any I've ever been to, with a huge lake in the centre. Anyway, climbed ANOTHER bloody hill to have a look round some temples at the top - I swear to God I'm actually becoming less fit as times goes on, these steps were just killing me after the Wall
That night when I was out drinking with my friends, I found out I could have just caught one bus there for 8p. I worked out I took twice as long and I paid about 20 times more...bugger. Nah mind, nay mind, knowledge comes from experience and all that malarky...
So, after more drinking games the night before, I checked out of my room on Sat (17th) and went off the Silk Market in search of an alarm clock as mine had just broken. Biggest market I've ever been too. I could have had a field day there. In fact, there was a post office on the top floor and I was tempted to go up, buy a crate and then just spend the day filling it with clothes, bags, shoes, electronics etc ..
Sun (18th) I arrived early into Xi'an and got myself checked into a hostel and then wandered about the city. Saw the Bell Tower and Drum Tower (to be perfectly honest, as boring as they sound, and, noting the word 'tower' involved climbing yet more steps!). Feeling guilty about being so negative about the city - just as smoggy as Beijing, just as many people hacking up all over the place and even more people staring at me like I'm an alien because I'm white - I decided to head over to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Buddhist temple), not really knowing what to expect. Well, should you go there, my advise is not to expect a lot, though this pessimistic view may have something to so with the treacherous bus ride there. At one point, whilst waiting at a red light (a novelty here), the driver remover the lid of the casing to the engine which was beside him and actually got a screw driver out and started fiddling around with it. Anyway, at the pagoda I became the tourist attraction. Had 3 different groups of Chinese people come up to me wanting to get their photo taken with me - especially with their kids. Quite amusing actually, these Chinese know how to pose
That night there was a Chinese festival going on called Festival of the Moon, or something similar, it's basically giving thanks for the harvest and it's for the kids who believe there is a boy trapped in the moon (kinda like Peter Pan) so everyone goes up on high ground to get closer to the moon and eat moon cakes which, I might add, sound more appetising than they actually are (I think I was eating one with meat in the middle - I didn't dare ask what animal it came from).
Anyhoo, had a superb day on Monday (19th) when I actually went to see the Terracotta Warriors. Managed to get there and back on my own steam instead of with a tour group, which I'm really pleased about because apparently a lot of the tours stop at jade factories and the such on the way, plus it's more expensive. So, the Terracotta Warriors were amazing. Running out of adjectives here... but grand. The area this tomb covers is larger than the pyramids. There are over 600 of these warriors, all life sized with individual characteristics in the 1st pit alone. All hand painted with their own weapons, some cavalry, some infantry, others bowmen etc. And all the weapons were coated in chromium to prevent corrosion - all of this was done over 2000 years ago. It is simply amazing.
Left Xi'an that night and arrived here in Beijing this morning Tues (20th). Am just hanging around my old hostel for the day before catching my flight to Hong Kong tonight. Am feeling pretty minging now, as last time I showered was yesterday morning, but if I think this is bad, wait till tomorrow when I'll be sleeping in Hong Kong airport... oh the joys of travelling!!
Love to everyone, postcards are winging there way to you as I speak. xx