Today we flew to Xi'an. Following on from out hotel's general unhelpfulness, we asked them to order a taxi for the morning and tell the driver we wanted to go to the airport. Of course, they didn't so after many hand signals we eventually explained to him where we wanted to go! The hotel said it would take at least an hour to get there but we were there in just over 20 minutes. I'll not be recommending that hotel and will be posting online reviews about the quality most definitely!
The airport was lovely and clean, only being built in 2008. The flight itself was a couple of hours and went by quickly - I was sat next to a Norwegian couple and spent most of the flight talking to the woman (an artist) about various things we'd both seen in Beijing.
Once in Xi'an, we had a wander around the city - it was much larger than both of us expected and it had lots of large, well known brand shops here. We got some stuff at the supermarket including moon cakes, pineapple beer and dried waxberry plums. Moon cakes are traditional lunar holiday gifts and this year the lunar holiday clashed with the national holiday so people were making an extra special event of it - we thought we'd best try some!
The pineapple beer tasted like a soft drink. Honestly, I'm not sure it was actually alcoholic, anyway. It certainly didn't taste it and certainly didn't get me "drunk"! The waxberry plums were quite horrible, as were the moon cakes (which I described to Elizabeth as tasting very like something inappropriate which she later wrote in her travel journal under the influence of some real beers!)
The hostel here has a laundry service so we dumped our dirty clothes with them and made full use of the attached restaurant and bar, stuffing ourselves with pizza and Tsing-tao beers!
Today we took a tour out to the Terracotta Warriors with our hostel - after the obligatory shop stop and crappy lunch, our group reached the site of the museum.
Inside, our guide was completely paranoid about, well, everything, but particularly in one of us getting lost or losing something.
We started at the cinema to watch a 15-minute film. It was in Chinese so all of us walked out. The guide seemed a bit annoyed and during the day kept asking us if we wanted to go back. She seemed infuriated that we weren't bothered by it.
Afterwards, we met the man who discovered the site - a local farmer now in his 80's. We bought a book about the site and got him to sign in.
The warriors were in three pens and we started with number 2. The warriors here were mostly broken up and laid in-situ from where they were excavated. Around the edge though, were cases with six complete warriors which you could view close up. Most of the Chinese seemed more interested by the security guard, however.
In Pen 3, we saw many complete horses and some other warriors and this was much cooler than the once we'd seen before. All the pens were inside and the light was poor which made the picture taking a little hit and miss!
Finally, we reached Pen 1 which was massive. The building here was much larger and well lit. Here we found what we had expected to see - rows and rows of warriors lined up and on display, just like all the pictures we've seen before had shown us. It was amazing to see so close up and even with the crowds, we got some great pictures and views along all the various pits which were dug out.
One old couple got annoyed with us as we pushed our way in. We waited patiently while they had their picture taken together, then while the woman had her picture taken on her own and so when she moved, I took her place. The man came up to me and TOLD me to move as I was in his picture - he wanted pics by himself, too. The stupid thing was, the warriors were about 20 feet below us and the only background to his picture would've been the back wall of the large building. I didn't budge, having waited patiently enough for my turn. The Chinese don't have any sense of other people here - they barge through rudely yet they expect others to comply when they want to see something, not to mention they like walking backwards or with their head stuck in a mobile phone with no care or attention for anyone else.
Oh well, we got our pictures!
One great thing about travelling is the people you meet and, even though they might not be all good, it is interesting nonetheless. Amongst our group today was a guy from southern Texas who knew everything about everywhere. While he was pretty obnoxious and pretentious, the rest of the group had a good laugh at his expense behind his back! Also was an Asian looking guy from Tennessee who had a weird hairstyle and was constantly brushing a stray long bit back into place. He looked really stupid. Of course, there are nice people too but sometimes you remember the bad ones with more fondness!
In the evening, we went to a Sichuanese restaurant and tried some more traditional food - we tried deep fried potatoes, pork with chillies and a disgusting chicken dish also with chillies. All the chicken was bone and it was really horrible. Well, at least we'd tried it despite the waitress trying to change our minds as the food was apparently really spicy. Sure, it was hot, but we were both getting tired of people telling us what we should and shouldn't eat. Thankfully, the potatoes were great and we stuffed out on them!
At the gate to the Warriors museum, we'd bought some pomegranate wine which we tried back at the hotel. It tasted OK to start with but the more we had the less we liked it. However, it had sure been a day of trying different stuff, even though it wasn't all great!
On the way back, we saw the South Gate of the city wall all lit up which was really cool to see.
Today, I'm not feeling great so I'm sat here updating this while Elizabeth has gone off to the Shaanxi History Museum. I'll have to get her to update this to tell you about that!
Sorry, still no pics yet but hopefully I'll buy a laptop in Hong Kong and be able to sort them all out - I have thousands already!
Well, that's you up to date with us. Please keep your messages coming to tell us how you are all doing.
I had a leisurely walk up to the history museum taking pictures of cool stuff around the street along the way. There weren't any English signs at the museum to indicate that the building was the right place but I figured it had to be based on the number of tour buses and people out front. It took me about an hour to walk there. After spending half an hour in line without moving I asked one of the young girls beside me what was going on. Apparently the museum closes for lunch and doesn't reopen until one. At this point it was 12:30 so I decided to wait a bit longer. Fifteen minutes after one only five people had got through the line so I decided that I had had enough and headed to the Big Goose Pagoda. The pagoda itself wasn't that impressive except for its size but there was a large square in front of it full of fountains. I watched a fifteen minute sound and water show which was really awesome. It was even better once I crawled my way through the mass of Chinese people to the front to see. After the show I headed back to the hostel avoiding the traffic along the way. A lot of the major streets don't have any lights and I was forced to cross them wherever I could. I narrowly escaped getting hit by a bus three times! I also noticed the lovely custom they have here of small children peeing on trees as if they were dogs. With the spitting and peeing no wonder they have disease problems!!