7-19-04 Fourth week in Beijing visiting Xian

Monday, July 19, 2004


Xian was AWESOME.  We (4 people-3 girls and one guy-me, Erin, Kristin, Rob) left on Thursday afternoon and got on our overnight train (I think it left around 6isH).  We brought a bunch of snack food and ate that and drank a little and hung out with some other people we met in the train from Pittsburgh in our room.  They were crazy travellers -going to a new city everyday and SO fast-we actually ended up seeing them at the Terra Cotta soldiers.  So we slept on the train (not bad at all-although I did wake up in the middle of the night thinking the roof was falling in-we went over a lot of bumps and made a couple of stops) and took a cab from the train station to our hostel around 8am or so.

Our hostel was sooo neat..I like staying in those better then hotels because there are so many different travellers from a lot of other places (mostly Europe).  So we made a reservation and put our stuff in a closet and took the bus to the Terra Cotta soldiers (which is about an hour away) but we got on the bus going the wrong direction and ended up at some bus depot or something in the pouring rain (the usual confusion in pouring rain) with no one understanding us or speaking English...so we just took a cab to the train station and got a bus to the soldiers.  On the bus we met a German guy and an Italian guy who were travelling together (one worked in Jordan and the other in Shanghai) and luckily the German guy knew English and Chinese so we hung out with them all day.  We went to some tomb/burial place on a huge hill but it wasn't too exciting because it was very foggy and raining.  Then afterwards we went to see the Terra Cotta soldiers which was neat.  It's exactly what you think..a lot of soldiers and excavation stuff everywhere...but luckily it was indoors so we weren't rained on.

The traffic in XIan is HORRIBLE!!  Driving is just a big game of Chicken..we thought we were going to hit someone or some bike or bus or car every single ride.  On the way back from the soldiers we were in such bad traffic and scraped against some other vehicles and saw people moving because the cars around them were making them. 

Afterwards we went back to our hostel (we had a room with a bathroom and 4 single beds-120 yuan each - which was more expensive then the other rooms-less than 16 US dollars I think? both nights) and ate there (horrible food) and went to some famous club there  with some of our new hostel friends..it wasn't as great as it was made out to be but we still had fun.

Saturday morning we went on this "walk" that a tour book we borrowed had.  We went to the Mosque and the Muslim markets around it that had lots of stuff and then we walked by and through some other thigns and ended up at a calligraphy road with lots of brushes and paintings etc.  We went back to the hostel...figured out what we were going to do (we saw a guy we knew on the street and he said that some people were going on a midnight hike to see the sunrise and a mtn 3 hours away-we wanted to go and would have if we had another day).  We went to the history museum and then looked for places to eat.  We went to a couple of places and they didn't have stuff we wanted (one had a menu in English and the other one had NOTHING we pointed to in the picture book) so we went to a place with a Chinese menu with NO pictures and relied on the guide book we borrowed and got some food (and got laughed at!).

We hung around the hostel for a little while (I beat some guy at chess-who had beat 2 other guys and quit because he thought there was no way to win-even though I kept telling him that I have no stratedgy).  We went to another club which was about the same and came back and hung out for a little while.

Sunday we woke up and went shopping at the Muslim market then went to the Big Goose Pagoda and got on our sleeper train (we had soft sleepers both ways-a 4 person room with nice beds-and on the way back each bed had it's own tv).  I fell asleep around 8:30ish ...and then woke up around around 9:30pm and took a sleeping pill to make SURE I slept the whole time.  We woke up, took a cab to our hotel, got dressed and ate, and went to class for 8 hours (it's 5:30pm now and I haven't been in my room yet).

Anyway our trip was very fun...XIan was awesome because it's small enough to get around yet had lots of things to see and do.  It had more culture, but more poor people and lots of interesting travellers (and interesting locals who I could speak English to).  We met a couple from New Zealand and their 4 year old daughter who have lived in China for 2 or 3 years (their daughter is fluent in Chinese) who is moving to Brunei for a job August 1.  We met a woman from the US (D.C. area I think) who has lived in Colombia for 2 or 3 years teaching elementary school.  Met a bunch of students taking the year off, or just travelling all summer spending all of their money.  It was probably a bad idea to let me come here and see all of these people doing things other then going to school then getting a job..I'm going to get so distracted and never work.

Ok the end!! 


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