21.07.2009 - 25.07.2009 37 °C
Our flight from Chengdu to Xi'an was fine and we arrived only slightly late (which is impressive by asian standards). Xi'an is a really lovely city, the first place in china that has managed to retain its chinese routes, as all its buildings are still chinese in stlye. There is a friendly feel about the city as well, so all in all we have gelled well with Xi'an. We relaxed on the first day and plodded about the city. Yesterday we went to see the terracotta warriors! We got up at 5.45am in the morning and then got two buses and arrvived at the ticket office half an hour before it even opened! This is our attempt to beat the ever present chinese tour groups. We got our tickets and got to the pits only a little after opening time. We must have been amongst the first 20 people let in! There are 3 pits in all, number one being the most famous and the lesser two being sidelined somewhat. Pit 2 was just a big hole in the ground where it had been excavated, and pit 3 had a small selection of warriors. By the time we got to pit one, the crowds luckily hadn't gathered yet so we managed to get prime positions to stare at them for a while. It was so impressive, there are about 2000 warriors on display in the pit (which is in an aircraft hangar type building), each as we all know with different faces. Its estimated that if each warrior was present, the room would hold 6000! It was just stunning, there is no other way to describe it. We walked right to the back of the pit, where excavating is still going on and the neverending 'glueing back together process' to build them back up to their former glory. We lingered quite a while until the tour groups arrived...needless to say we ran for the door when they did, as they dont exist in numbers less than 4000 people and the tour guides have microphones as well! Urgh! So we scarpered back to the city after that! Had a fantastic day though, even though it cost 10 quid to get in!
Today we went to have a look around the ancient walled city of Xi'an, where we're staying. We got a bus this afternoon south of the city to go and see The Big Wild Goose Pagoda (I know, we laughed as well), which is a really old pagoda surrounded by a new temple complex. It was really impressive and at 64 metres high, towers above many of the new buildings, despite it being 1400 years old! After walking around the complex for a bit we got a bus back to the city walls, which have been repeatedly rebuilt over the years (due to war, disaster and neglect), but were still really awe inspiring to walk along and get a feel for xi'an. The current Ming Dynasty wall dates from the 14th century and is still one of the most impressive city walls in China. It's over 25km long and takes 3hrs to walk around, which we were not keen to do in nearly 40deg heat! Of course, being chinese, there are golf buggies to whisk you around in an hour or so for the extortionate price of 10 pounds! After that we went to the bell and drum tower which are in the centre of town, which look slightly lost in the middle of a traffic island! After that we decided it was too hot, despite it being one of the clearest days in China so far, so we retreated back to the hotel!
We leave Xi'an tomorrow evening on an overnight train to Beijing, where we will be staying for a week!
Hope everyone is well,
Lots of Love,
Chris and Alex xxx