Last known location: London, England

Xi’an Warriors and Mutton Soup

After a chilly morning trying to leave Pingyao, our second bus did finally arrive, and we had a pretty easy journey through the snow to Xi’an accompanied by a never ending DVD of a terrible Chinese variety show!

We got dropped off in an unexpected part of town and had to haggle with a taxi driver to get us to our hostel.  Cue more manic driving, weaving in and out of traffic and a few emergency stops!  He’s definitely the worst we’ve had so far!

Had quite a chilled out day on the Wednesday; explored the Bell and Drum towers and wandered around the Muslim Quarter of the city, which was packed with stalls selling food, fruit, cakes, sweets and the usual tourist trinkets. After a lot of haggling we left with a huge bag of chilli peanuts (which we’re still eating now) and a pair of Ray-Bans for Gem (real obviously!). Headed to ‘Bar Street’ by the South Gate afterwards which was touted as having western-style pubs. They turned out to be more like cafes but we had a couple of beers all the same, albeit some of the most expensive we’ve had in China so far!

Went back to the Muslim quarter in the evening to try the local speciality, which is Paomo, a mutton soup with chunks of really solid bread. The idea is that you break up the bread into tiny pieces yourself, then once you’ve worked up an appetite they pour over the soup. Was very tasty and really filling and only about £1 each!

We couldn’t come to Xi’an without seeing the Terracotta Warriors, so we got up (relatively) early the next morning and caught the tourist bus to the site, which is north east of the city. Although it was a tourist bus, everyone else on it with us was Chinese and got dropped off at a town halfway there. We were then dropped off at what looked like the Chinese equivalent of a Little Chef by the side of a dual carriageway, which we had to cross, avoiding all the cars and buses whizzing past! After a bit more wandering away from the road we came to a like-for-like replica of Crawley town centre and eventually managed to find the ticket office. After the kilometre long walk through the lines of tourist stalls we finally made it to the entrance!

The warriors themselves were amazing and it was an impressive sight to see them all lined up. Three “pits” have been discovered, which have been excavated to varying degrees. Pit 1 has the most complete warriors; many have been restored and are standing in one piece.  Tens of thousands of terracotta warriors were buried to protect the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang over 2,000 years ago.  They all have different facial expressions, hairstyles and clothing – no wonder it took 700,000 people 36 years to create the underground city they lived in!  The old man who first found them is still there signing books in the gift shop.  He discovered the site in March 1974 and by October 1974 the tourist attraction had opened!

We were staying in a dorm at our hostel in Xi’an and had a terrible night’s sleep thanks to a snoring Argentine who got a few nasty looks from everyone else in the room the next day! Had a quiet morning on Friday and got some supplies for our overnight to train to Chengdu, which we boarded after more station chaos, and set off at 4pm. We were in hard-sleeper class, which meant beds in sets of three bunks. Not the most comfortable but made it safely to Chengdu this morning.  We suffered from ANOTHER snorer – he was on the top bunk above Dan and kept Gem up for over an hour in the early morning!  But we’re getting used to sleeping on trains now so aren’t suffering too much!

  1. Rose 1 Nov, 2010

    Amazing to think you’ve travelled all that way and have only had a relatively short flight from Luton to Riga!! Wonder how many miles you’ve travelled by train?

    What’s that large green prickly fruit thing in one of the photos?

    Hope you enjoy Chengdu.


    Mum x x x

  2. Gem 4 Nov, 2010

    Hi Mum,

    God knows how many miles we’ve done by train! We’re heading to Suzhou today, which is near Shanghao and it’s 757 km by train. Only takes about 5 hours this time – we’re getting on a fast train.

    Not sure what that fruit was, it was called the grandma of all fruits or something….

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