Trip Start Apr 16, 2010
Trip End Jul 24, 2010

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Flag of China  , Shaanxi,
Thursday, May 27, 2010

Blog number 12! If you're still with us, then you're in for a real treat...

So it was, that we boarded the sleeper train from Taishan to Xi'an at 19:44 on the 25th. We anticipated the journey with a mixture of slight excitement at the prospect of a new transport experience, and dread at the prospect of the size and comfort of our 'HARD sleeper' bunk beds. Within an hour, the initial shade of excitement was long forgotten and we spent a long and restless night's 'sleep' (bar Stef, who slept like a baby), packed like sardines, each of us at the top of separate stacks of 3 bunk beds. Morning slowly came, and we descended our towers to wait out the remaining hours - Ollie spent most of this time recounting tales of a chronic snorer in the bed next to his. The luxuries provided did not go further than hot water on tap, but at least this allowed for a few pot noodles to keep us going.

Fortunately, on arrival at Xi'an station, we were greeted with a sight that would bring hope and comfort to even the wearist, most sleep-deprived traveller: a woman from our hostel helding aloft a white sign clearly reading "Stefan Cave". The rail station pick up had come good, and we were whisked off to our hostel in no time. We've really enjoyed our stay here so far at Xiangzimen YHA. The free pool table has been used to full effect and we've even put in a few strong performances against the locals!

The evening saw us explore the streets of the renowned Muslim Quarter of Xi'an. Again more spending, with a North Face backpack, a musical instrument, several bracelets, a belt and some authentic local artwork all bagged at bargain basement prices! Having emptied our wallets, we sauntered to a local Muslim restaurant. On entrance, we spotted a promising spiced potato dish being cooked in a large pan and ordered 3 bowls to our table. The moment they were served, however, Ollie exclaimed "That is not potato. That is jelly." He wasn't wrong. We did not trust the way it moved, and on further inspection could still not pin down what on earth this wobbly mess in front of us actually was. We didn't need to taste more than a mouthful for us to make the executive decision that we needed to leave the restaurant immediately. We cut our losses and sheepishly approached the counter to pay, leaving 3 virtually untouched bowls in our wake. It's hard to describe the looks we received from the other customers and even the restauranteurs.

This morning, we visited the Army of Terracotta Warriors! Widely beheld as the Eighth Wonder of the World, this sight is a mecca for tourists, archaeologists and historians worldwide. An interesting fact for you: although these warriors were buried about two millenia ago, they were only discovered by a local farmer in 1974. Just nuts. We happened to see the same farmer signing autobiographies in the museum store. Our kind guide Jenny gave us some additional information on the tombs of warriors and the whole experience was just great thanks...

As we write, we are coming to terms with the grim realisation that tomorrow night holds for us another protracted, boring, and unforgiving sleeper train journey; this time to Nanjing - 18 hours as opposed to 16. Unfun.

For tonight though, its time to return to the pool table where we hope to wipe away a few more local smiles.

As always, thanks for reading and keep up the steady flow of warm comments - it's great to hear from you!

Lots of love,


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nick on

it looks to me as if the long journey was worth it the terracotta army look amazing

Stef - i have put the photo of you as my background and i think i can see the beginnings of a moustache !!
Christian has got some real maple syrup from Canada for that pancake if you want it -:)

keep enjoying - mum , dad and christian

Eric and Pat on

We much enjoyed speaknig with Tim today and to be able to share in some of our incredible experiences. You've put us off eating out in China!!

Hope the next train journey is more comfortable than the last!

Have much enjoyed the blog, keep it going chaps.

\much love to you all.

Pat and Eric

Sue on

I love your blog - always exciting to see a new one posted! It is fantastic to keep on the journey with The Fantastic 4 ... although I am grateful not to be on that long, long train journey I have to say. Glad to see that your food-antenna works - always better to withdraw and live to see another day. Keep up the good work guys. Sue xxx

Ursula on

So glad you decided to make the trip to the Terracotta Army. By my reckoning you'll be on the sleeper train now, so I really hope it's more comfy than the last one and that there are no snorers! Looking forward to hearing about your adventures in Nanjing......lots of love, U xx

Eric and Pat on

Sorry about the misprint in our last comment!
Pat and Eric

JV on

Guys ,JV here saying wow indeed!Had not read last couple of blogs for a number of reasons and they were very funny!As i tucked into my boiled eggs sitting on my comfortable kingsize bed on a sat morning I did think of you all on those top bunks.Have only ever been on one sleeper in my life and idf ever there was a something that had been wrongly named it had to be the "sleeper"as this is exactly what you can't do!sounds like the Terracotta experience was unique and one for the memories.The time seems to be going so quickly!By the time you read this you will have done the terrible journey back so enjoy the resting in a nice hostel and hope there are not too many jellied food experiences to come.
Off for a wedding singing thingy followed by a show tonight so busy day here.
Keep safe all of you and God bless all four of you.We constantly think of you guys and don't wish we were there!!!Oh and hope the stefan illness has been kicked into touch.

Simon, Julia and Rob on

Still here in Boston with Rob ,helping pack to come home, tomorrow! great to hear all the latest news and your most recent antics.The sleepers sound challenging,expect that trip is now done and you have moved on!! It all sounds such fun. We think of you loads and hope you continue to have such a brilliant time. We will be home tomorrow.God bless all. Take care.Lots of love to you all.si,juliaandrob xxx

Nigel Smith on

Hi Tim and all - you appear to be having a good adventure. its good to be able to see where you are, and not eating the jelly!

Nigel & Iz

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