Trip Start Feb 21, 2012
59Trip End Sep 20, 2012
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Where I stayed
Monday night we took the 15 hour sleeper train to Xian. For that we needed to go to Beijing West Station so we took the underground to the Millitary Museum. We had planned to walk the rest of the distance, but we were caught by a man who convinced us to take a ride for only 10RMB (1,50 Euro). Because our backpacks were so heavy we were easily convinced and ended up getting stuffed into a 1x1 metres cabin that was attached to a moped. The driver had already taken off while the salesman was still trying to close the door behind us. This proved difficult because our backpacks were getting in the way - two people and two backpacks was just too much to fit in. It was the craziest but also funniest drive I have ever experienced - and probably the most dangerous as well. The driver made her way through the beeping traffic, almost run over some pedestrians and then started swearing at them (we assumed that was what she shouted out) and then ended up driving on the wrong side of the road. But we made it alive.
As soon as we got to the train station we had to make our way to the big waiting hall for our train and then were pretty much pushed inside by probably 1000 fellow Chinese travellers. We had booked two top bunks from the "hardsleeper" category, the open cabins inside one coach had six beds (3 on top of each other). As soon as the train left the station all the lights went off and it was sleeping time. After some claustrophobic moments I got used to the small space and even managed to get sleep intervals of about 30 minutes, because then the train rolled into the next station and people got on and off.
After I had given up on sleeping at about 7a.m. I got a good look out the windows and was quite surprised by what I saw. Beijing had given me the impression that China was quite Western with all it's big fancy designer shops... Gucci, Prada, Rolls Royce, Lamborgini. But as soon as you leave the city there is no more fancyness, people live in very small brick huts of which many look like they are falling apart. There is rubbish everywhere, it just gets thrown out down hills or around corners, there seems to be no organized rubbish disposal.
All this disappeared when we arrived at the next city - Xian. Although it is far more South, it is just as freezing here and the smog blogs the sunlight and the view to the horizon. Otherwise it reminds me off Beijing - it definitely has the same obsession with fairy lights.
Today we went to see the Terracotta Warriors which was incredible. They are all so detailed even their clothes and they all have individual faces. I couldn't believe that thousands of them plus horses were made for the Emperor Qin, so that they could surround his tomb and protect him in th afterlife. They were made to be burried! Only in the 70s farmers discovered the pottery army under the earth and even today archeologists are still working on it.
In two days we are getting on a nother 15 hour train to Chengdu and finally get to see the Pandas!!! So more to come. I'll keep you updated
P.S. You can find attached some photos from the last days in Beijing.