Xian

We seem to have issues with finding our hotels lately, we have the Chinese address and a map but it seems the taxi driver doesn’t seem to know the location, it’s not a terrible thing though we drive round taking in the sights and noting locations of various shops and sights along the way. We are staying at a place called bestay, it’s like a Chinese version of travel lodge, just a lot smaller, but the beds are soft and the wifi actually works for a change.

We have been craving some sort of English food for a little while, not that we don’t like rice or noodles it just seems that in china you have very little option for little else for breakfast or any meal, which is strange, we have now even got bored of the cereal available in the shops. What was a delightful find was a place called New York hot dog, which sold all types of sausages and toppings on hot dogs and the chips resembled the ones from England that have the skin left on.

When we decided to come to Xian it was a spur of the moment decision, we had though about it before whilst at home in England but decided it would be far to touristy and expensive to go to. We ended up going anyway and to a extent it was a good decision, the town it self was clean and the shops were more varied then the rest of china, decathlon for a start sold clothes that were English sized and various fold away bags which would be a improvement from carrier bags.

The attractions we went to were of course packed with the usual Chinese tourists who needed there 40 a day selfies.

Terracotta warriors

A bus drive and a walk in boiling heat got us to a point were we had to board a golf buggy which would then take us to the entrance. A five minute ride for a hour wait, we could of walked but we didn’t realise that at the beginning. We arrived at buildings which were called pits. Pit 1 of course was the most recognised and known terracotta warriors. It’s known that all the warriors are different and must of been carved and created whilst mimicking someone. Hundreds of hair styles, robes and decorative jewellery, the officers had back plates of armour all of which were different in style. The solders them selves had different eyes and various facial features which were astonishing. The horses carved in a way that made them almost look alive and about to ride off.

There was three pits in total, the second of which was still in excavation, heads poking out from the mud were comical and scattered around next to horse legs and broken limbs and articles of people.

There was a section were you could see the renovations happening. Wounded soldiers stuck together with gaffa tape and glue. It must take a extortionate amount of time for one to be finished.

The main let down of this place was how far away you was from the actual soldiers, around 100 feet down and across. It made getting any details or close ups very difficult and took away from the sheer wow factor of something created so long ago. We were also way above them and not at eye level, and the groups of soldiers were not face on, to get close ups you needed a private (expensive) tour by crossing the red carpet in to the pathways within the pit.

Pagodas

There are many pagodas in xian which you have to pay for to go in, amanda and myself don’t really go into these after we have been in a few because although they are full of character and detail and show various designs what you see from the outside is the main attraction and of course the 120 yuan price tag to go inside per person makes it very difficult to justify.

The fountains and foliage around the pagodas were beautiful the security guards seemed to have a fun time telling us to move of the centre of the fountain whilst taking pictures, this was a funny instance because Chinese people had tripods and cameras taking pictures but for us we had to be moved. This is not the first time in china that we have had this type of segregation and probably won’t be the last. Still gotta laugh at it.

Mount huashan

Huashan

One of the main reasons we decided to go to xian was because of one mountain with a plank road, a plank road is bits of wood hammered to the side of a mountain hanging over a cliff edge 1000 or so feet up. A foot or so across. Held on by a tiny safety harness, which are Chinese sized. I expected a few things to happen whilst doing this, firstly something to go terribly wrong because there wasn’t much safety advice and of course because it only cost 2 pound each (once you paid mountain entrance fees already). There was the possibility that amanda would freeze and not be able to do it, which was not a silly thing, I myself felt as though I may have some trouble. This was then made worse when we saw that people were going up and down at the same time. At points you had to unclip yourself and lean into the canyon and allow people to go underneath you or behind you. Amanda done amazing she didn’t panic she didn’t struggle or have and moments and managed to climb down and across and up without any problem even posing for some pictures whilst hanging off.

The mountain itself was vast, there was five peaks you could of gone up to, it takes a full day to climb up to the area needed to climb and view the beauty of the surroundings. We opted to take the bus and cable car as it was meant to be the most beautiful and jaw dropping views in china. We were queuing for the cable car and I noticed a few people with SLR’s and sound equipment waiting around. I knew what was gonna happen next but didn’t want to ah anything. We borded the cable car and was immediately bombarded with a camera and talk show host trying to ask us what we was doing here and how we heard of the mountain. We were sweaty, looking rough and wanted to enjoy the 25 minute ride without the constant hassle of being filmed and questions asked. The doors closed and we were stuck with them. I was asked what I thought of the mountain, “it’s very big” no more questions. Now you may feel that me and amanda May have been handling this the wrong way but unless you have been to china you won’t understand the attraction that you are, various pictures and poses, children placed in front of you and random shouts of hello how are you from children.

The cost of this mountain was also a shocker, 45 pound for the cable car. 18 pound each for the bus and 16 pound each for the tickets to enter. All in all well over a hundred pound for the day without food the train tickets to get to the base. Would we suggest our recommend it to anyone else? Well without the plank walk I wouldn’t suggest it, it seems that mountains in china are all aimed to be tourist traps copious amounts of money needed to enjoy the day, to view sights seen almost identical to others. But the plank walk was something which I think me and amanda would remember forever.

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Other sights

We visited the city wall in xian as well as the Muslim quarter, we spent quite a lot of our time however just looking round a couple of the malls, we had 5 days altogether.

On our leaving day we got up early to catch a flight. We went early. As we had had problems with taxies over charging and not using the meter in xian. We thoughts 3 hours would be enough. We waited and a cabbie finally pulled over. He requested a ridiculous fair amount, after letting us get all of our bags in the car fooling us in to thinking he would use the meter on the cab. So we began taking our stuff out. I hailed a second cab so that we could get there as we were running out of time. The cab pulled over, but the first refused to move. He shouted to the other one and made him suggest the same fair. At which point I shook my head and gestured for him to move on. The first cab still remained making our lives hell. Then we had the idea to photograph his number plate as not using the meter isn’t legal. Once the camera was in his plates he was fast to move. We bundled in to a third cab, and thought the nightmare was over. Time was short. Then the car stopped. What the hell?! He took us the the express bus stop for the airport. And told us to get out. We had to pay a fee, then we were put into a fourth cab, a larger more expensive one. Problem being we have a lot of luggage and little time. Each change took a long time trying to squeeze everything in. We finally got there. When we went in we knew we were getting too short on time. We collected the boarding passes, then found out we were not even at the right end of the airport. Our gate was over a mile walk away, we were exhausted and the trolleys packed away so were carrying over 30kgs each. When we got to our gate, the plane had already left. And early. We had another 15 mins to check in before the gate should have closed. We were gutted. There were no cheap flights left online for us to buy. A woman helped to get us put onto standby as she knew it wasn’t our fault it left early( although all would have been fine if the taxies done their job right) we were told there was another flight at 6pm via southern airlines that IF some people don’t show for we could get onto. It was only around 8 by this time. We took a seat and prepared for the worst. We looked at other flight options. An hour or so later the woman returned. We had moved around a few times to try and get wifi. She told us to stay put. So we did for a few more hours. Then she came back and asked kraig to follow her. They went off. Half hour later he returned with two boarding passes in hand! The flight was for 7:30 pm. We were so pleased. Kraig explained how the staff didn’t want to issue the tickets but the woman was shouting at them to make them issue the free tickets that had become available. We could relax at last. We played ball games, got Pizza Hut and dunking doughnuts. Mine was gross. Ready bear made of coffee :S…

We checked our backpacks in as soon as we could at 6pm then waited. 7 came. Flight delays all across the board. We finally took off at 9pm and arrived in chengdu hotel around midnight. Arrival at last!!

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