A mountain, a theft and a double bicycle…

I took off to Xian way too early in the morning, with way too much stuff. After cursing my way through both Wuhan and Xian airports, I decided that I needed to send stuff home and cried my way through… but I need those jeans, and that top…

Settled in to what was going to be my home for the next week and was dragged to a museum by the guy who was staying in my dorm room with me. Ended up being almost interesting, with remains from “Beijing Man” being a highlight that I’d actually heard of.

Woke up the next day and headed off to the Terracotta Warriors, expecting to be disappointed and well, I kinda was. If you stop to think about how old they are and how well maintained they are and the like, then you would be amazed. Guaranteed. But the sheer tourism of the place and the Chinese way of stand in a line to do it all and the roof over the top that contributed to my sense of “is this really real?”.

Above: The main hall
Right: The second hall

Above: Close up of part of the
main hall

On the way back from the Terracotta Army, I stopped off at the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor (the place where he was buried). I found this much more amazing than the Terracotta Warriors, which were built to protect the Qin Emperor from things that could possible attack him in the spiritual world. Please correct me if I am wrong on anything I say in this part because I was dealing with people who only spoke Chinese… needless to say that my Chinese regarding the spiritual world is not the greatest. But I try.

I really like this place because of the little carriage ride that we took where we were told all about the grounds of the Mausoleum, complete with our little Chinese fortune telling. Unfortunately, it was in Chinese so I didn’t understand it but I hope it was good. Anyway, it did prove to me that my Chinese was much better than when I left and the little carriage was way cute.

After our little carriage ride, I climbed to the top of the Mausoleum to look over the area completely covered in fog. Always an amazing sight. One interesting fact about the Mausoleum was that it is completely toxic on the inside. So much so that they can’t excavate it because of the danger.

View from the bottom of the Mausoleum

Headed back to the hostel in Xian and decided to head downstairs for some food. Somehow ended up at a nightclub with a bunch of crazy foreigners (hi guys!) and some even crazier Chinese.

The next day, a little worse for wear, we decided to head off to Hua Shan. A long bus drive (after an even longer bus sit – that’s right… wait for the bus to fill before leaving) and we found ourselves in a small town at the bottom of a mountain. Small enough to have five karaoke halls (that we counted) fifteen hairdressers and a ballroom dancing club (go figure!). We decided to go the karaoke option and spent several hours singing really bad songs (thanks Darren) including Auld Lang Syne, a Christmas medley and Happy Birthday (the only one the locals knew).

After a while, Claire realised her wallet was missing and so the saga began…

First of all, they tried to deny it happened. Then, after realising my Chinese was better than they thought, they started searching. The wallet, with passport but not money, then “mysteriously” appeared in the toilets where we had already searched. Thought about leaving, but Claire had US and UK notes so we thought we’d stick around to find them. After an hour of being dragged into a room and talked at in Chinese (yes, I might have understood maybe half of it), we watched the staff get taken into for strip searching and then we watched them search the bar in the most exacting of ways. Four men… one who lifted stuff, one who shone the torch into dark spaces, one who checked for money and one (the senior member) who checked the special spots, like the vases. Ten seconds for a room… cold, hard and calculating. Then… half a minute later… the money!!! Complete with an extra 5c that someone must have left under the couch at some stage. Needless to say, we packed up and left and soon as we could.

The next day, extremely tired, we got up at almost the crack of dawn and climbed a mountain. Hua Shan to be exact. Could have taken the cable car up… but no, decided to walk. Nice and steep…

Left: Turn around, smile, don’t fall down

Above: Just part of the walk really

Above: So close to the top now

But… worthwhile, very pretty. See the photos.

To the gang… I personally love the random Chinese lady… thanks!

And to the guy who carried the wardrobe up the side of a cliff…

And then there was the “no tossing” sign… thanks Darren for the illustration.

Travelled back to Xian that evening and went to bad… tired, exhausted and happy. The next day, headed off on a trip round the city walls on none other but a “double bicycle”. Took a couple of hours to cycle round and although it meant that we couldn’t see much, the fog made it just amazing. Surreal…

And that was it, that was my trip to Xian… and fairly much my trip to China as well. Headed off to Beijing, then jumped on a train to Siberia… literally. But before we leave Xian, couldn’t go without sending a tribute to… the Terry Potter Army! Don’t ask, in fact, just forget it really 🙂