The Eighth Wonder of the World

Trip Start Sep 05, 2011
Trip End Nov 07, 2011

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Flag of China  , Shaanxi,
Sunday, October 9, 2011

We made it to Xi'an on the sleeper bus which was certainly better than a seat, even if it was bumpier and not as good as a bed on a train. At one point we stopped off at a random dodgy service station in the middle of nowhere, this was a bit scary as everyone stared at us (they probably haven't seen foreigners before)! In the middle of the night, the bus was pulled over by the Police who got on with a torch and had a look around. Rachel was the only one awake, she was a bit scared, Mike slept through it!

Xi'an is an old city, but it seems to have a certain charm about it. It was once the capital of China and has a distinct city wall around the outside. There are no modern office blocks like in Shanghai. Instead the City revolves around 'The Bell Tower' and 'The Drum Tower' both historical attractions in the City. We took tours of these towers, where there are performances of bell ringing and drumming.

We have also visited Xi'an Museum which was recommended to us by a Swiss traveller in Shanghai. This was possibly the best museum we have visited, Xi'an has a fascinating history.

Besides visiting the tourist attractions, we popped into Dunkin' Donuts where we noticed a Chinese couple taking pictures of their donuts. They then started to eat their donuts with a knife and fork which we thought was hilarious.

Obviously the main attraction when visiting Xi'an is the 'Museum of Terracotta Warriors'. We booked a tour to the museum, which was in English this time. On the way to the museum we stopped off at a factory which manufactures replicas of the Terracotta Warriors. This came as a surprise as it was not included on the tour itinerary. We have found that tours often include random stops and extras that aren't advertised. The factory was very interesting; it showed how the Warriors were made all those years ago. You can even buy a life-size warrior and have it shipped home!

At the museum we decided to "accidentally lose" our tour group and explore on our own. We couldn't understand the tour guide anyway. There are 3 archaeological sites (pits) at the museum; pit 1 is the main attraction while pits 2 and 3 are smaller. In each pit you walk around the outside looking down at the site where there are many pieces of broken unearthed warriors. The warriors were found broken and later pieced together into their original form. It is interesting to see that excavation work is still being carried out in all of the pits.

Pit 1 is the most impressive and houses the majority of the warriors, whilst pit 2 and 3 show mainly excavation work still on-going. The whole site is incredible, definitely a must see. It is even described as the eighth wonder of the world.

We have made a change to our itinerary, after speaking to some fellow travellers we have learnt that flights are relatively cheap in China. We decided to book a flight to South Korea from Beijing. This will be much more convenient than trying to get a ferry and means we won't have to get another sleeper train! So we are off to Beijing tonight, we have four days there before flying to Seoul on Friday.
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