Visiting the "Terrycot Worries" (you will see)
04.03.2010 - 11.03.2010 6 °C
Finally getting some fresh air, after a long 28 hours cooped up on the train, was fantastic. The platform was crowded and seemed like a sea of heads all at least a foot beneath my eye level all bobbing towards the exit tunnel. So like a boat without sail I let the current of people take me in the same direction down through the exit ramps and out to the front of the station. On exiting the station I was taken aback by the huge wall (part of the city wall surrounding the whole city) at least 20 meters in height straight ahead of me blocking my path, before I got to it though I ran into another wall, of people this time, blocking me from getting to the city wall and the buses. Finding a gap in the human blockade I Navigated my way through the islands of people in the station grounds and headed to the bus station dead ahead of me, as my directions had indicated it would be. As soon as I made it across the road the bus that I had been directed to catch appeared round the corner and pulled in, getting on proved difficult due to the small gap and very low ceiling, challenges for my height and my bag, but I overcame them just to realise my wallet was lacking a single Yuan to pay for the bus, thankfully the driver waved me on as the big westerner was clearly blocking everyone else from getting on the bus (my bad), on sitting down though a local girl probably half pitying and half mocking me gave me a Yuan.
“Get on 602 bus sit on bus get off after sixth stop turn right and go down alley hostel on left” this is what my directions to the hostel said clear simple and to the point I hear you say until you follow such directions and they take you to a part of town were the police don’t even know where the road I’m trying to find is and the bus boy from the big fancy hotel can’t even find a taxi driver who knows where it is, until his 4th attempt. Finally the 4th taxi knows where the hostel is and I get there. After I had checked in I ask about the directions and it turns out the ‘6’ include the stop you get on at plus 2 stops aren’t being used at the moment for road works, helpful huh?
In any case I still got there and what a place, converted from an original Chinese courtyard house this place was full of character and history but with modern advantages like the central courtyard getting a roof enabling the courtyard to be part of the bar and have a cool outdoor indoors feel. The balcony walls looking into the central courtyard were all covered in messages and pictures from previous visitors; thanking staff, complimenting the hostel and leaving messages about all sorts of things and what they were doing there. The Room I was lead to, by a member of staff, was huge considering there were only 6 beds in it the beds were very comfy as well as having free Chinese tea every day so after a cup and settling I crashed out and slept like a rock.
For my stay I actually had plans but not in detail so after my usual and initial day of local exploring and a free Dumpling party, involving making cooking and eating FREE dumplings, I spent the next day finalising those plans plus working out what I was to do for the rest of my time in china before hitting up Vietnam as my time here is slowly running out (I have updated the map and itinerary if you want to see, the dates might be a little different from what I actually do -->. The following day was used for putting plans into action had a wonder around a street market and around the wall then headed off to the train station to book my next set of tickets to Chengdu this proved immensely difficult with the hordes of people blocking everything so after an hour of trying i gave up and headed back to the hostel to book up my tour to see the Terracotta warriors and ran into a new guy in my room, Simon, who after speaking to the front desk was told the best time to buy tickets is at around 2300 so after dinner a few beers and talking we went off to the station and had tickets to our destinations within minutes (typical really). We decided to walk back through the city as it was a nice evening and both wanted to find some street food. The Walk back found us some awesome dumplings and seeing the illuminated bell tower and drum tower was well worth the hour and a half walk. After getting back at about two and having worn ourselves out we called it a night. Next morning for me was Terracotta warrior day so I was up and out after a quick breakfast by 9.
The tour guide was waiting in the lobby for the group, a total of 7 people, to take us to the minivan (for a trip that would take about 2 hours each way plus the 90 Yuan entry was a bargain at 160 Yuan about £15) and once everyone was there the tour began. the journey out of town was nice being filled in by the tour guide on the history of I’m pretty sure was the whole of china, but specifically Xian and the ‘Terrycot worries’ as he put it, well worth the money. Before the warriors we headed to a reproduction factory that was fairly pointless and mainly a place to try and sell us stuff but had some cool handmade furniture of the traditional ilk. But most of us resisted and we got underway this part of the drive surprised me as there was very little around just farmland and more places riding the tourism bandwagon. We didn’t come across anything major until the last mile or so of the drive but when we got to the site of the warriors out of nowhere this whole town appeared with major companies, restaurants and all sorts of shops and of course loads of things to do with the Xian terracotta warriors. We got dropped off and walked up to the Pits. Here we asked to be taken to the least impressive pit first which immediately got the answer “pit 2” so we headed on through being told about how this was all found thanks to a farmer digging a well and finding a terracotta head. On entering pit 2 we were all shocked by two things, firstly, the size of the pit, secondly, how empty it was with just a few broken bits of bodies and horses and some exhibition showing a few bronze weapons and a couple of full size warriors of different ranks from; Kneeling archer, to standing archer, soldier, officer and a general. They looked impressive but were out of place and encased in glass not what I was expecting. We then headed on to Pit 3 the officers pit and planning room, this was a lot smaller but had terracotta soldiers in it and was impressive after spending a bit of time in there we moved on. As we walked along the side of this huge building our tour guide, Jason (English name), said this is Pit 1 shocked by this we picked up the pace to get inside. Well when we entered I think we were all lost for words, except Jason who went through the whole tour guide thing, the sheer size of the pit stunned us first then the fact it was filled with hundreds of figures, it took a couple seconds longer to comprehend. We were given half an hour to walk around the pit, almost 300m long and over 60m wide, on our own seeing all the ongoing excavation and pieced together Warriors was stunning (the Stanmore pig seemed to like it too). After spending our time here we checked out a video of the history and an onsite museum with a few extra things plus the marionettes used in the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony of a 16 meter tall terracotta warrior and 6 meter high girl representing china’s past and modern people. That concluded the tour and we headed back.
My final day did the boring packing and checking out thing then headed back into the hostel bar to book my hostel in Chengdu and get some food before my train journey that evening just 18 hours this time. At 4.30 I headed off to the station cramming myself and bag into the bus again then holding on tight (now I realise, the best way to describe buses in Xian and the rest of china, is like riding the knight bus from Harry potter and the prisoner of Azkaban, for you people who know what that is if not I’m Sure You tube will help). At the station I bought some pot noodles and oranges and somehow skipped the queues to the station and without having to wait this time was pointed straight to the platform and the train. Again after fighting through the train to my bunk I got myself comfortable this journey though I was fed and looked after by these two ladies instead of stared at the whole way which was great. This journey was easy as the majority was over night and I arrived late morning in Chengdu again after getting off the train I was forced along the platform to the exit by the sea of heads and upon exiting was greeted by a sign saying “Sim’s Cozy free pickup”...
So that is Xian and the journey to Chengdu next entry will be Chengdu take care.