Jonty’s China Trip – China 2

Hey everybody. I gotta make this entry a quick one as i’m in an internet joint outside our hotel and only have a limited amount of time. I sat up all night last night typing up a travel blog so i could just save to a usb stick and load it onto one of these computers. However it appears that they have disabled their usb drives, therefore here i go again. So sorry about the lack of photos for this blog, and ifi find a way to get my other blog up with photos i will do so.

On saturday the 23rd of September myself, Camilla and Mitch all left Nanning aboard a flight set out for Xian. This is a slightly ancient type of city which has a descent sized wall around it’s inner city, built back in the day to protect the city and it’s people. Xian is also home to the world renowned Terracotta Warriors, which were built over 38 or so years between 246BC and 208BC. They were ordered to be built by who i believe was the first emperor of the china (or something like that) si that when he died they could be positioned east of his tomb in order to protect him in the after life. there are around 6000of these soldiers, each one crafted individually with different facial expressions on each and every one. They were accidently discovered by farmers thousands of years laters and have since become a world wonder, and i can see why. when they were discovered only one remained intact and the rest were broken (to different extents). Since then, experts have had the job of repairing these soldiers in order to bring them back to what they were back in the day.

As well as visting the soldiers, we went to the burial site of the emperor in question. His tomb rests underneath a descent sized man made mound, or hill. It has not been opened as doing so would allow the outside environment to destroy what lays inside. So really visiting this section wasn’t all that amazing at all, just a chance to get in some exercise as we walked up the mound thinking that there would be something incredible at the top. Notto be!!!

We also saw a mock set up of what experts think the inside of theemperors tomb would look like, however this was a bit of let down, as fake things just never seem to have the same feel about them as would seeing the real deal.

When we arrived back in the inner city of Xian, we went out in the city heart and discovered the muslim quaters of the city. this place had a really cool vibe to it, with the night markets going and plenty of muslim-chinese restaurants lining the streets. It was such a good feeling to be able to get a meal that had a different flavour to everything else we have been eating over the past seven weeks. These things tend to get us excited now-a-days, as eating the same type of chinese food three times a day, day in and day out gets a little old. We then walked around the area a little more before retiring to our hotel. Oh yeh, i forgot to mention, the hotel we were staying in was probably one of the funniest things that happened in Xian. We arrived in Xian and were immediately approached by a travel agent/guide who asked if we had anywhere to stay. we did not, as we were just going to rock up to a couple places, cause this way you usually get a cheaper room rate. However she realed our tired asses in and got us a room in this hotel which was positioned in what i can only describe as the ghetto of Xian. The street we were in was lined with prostitutes every night, and had an adult/porn shop halfway down the street. This guy had to be one of the dodgiest people i have seen for quite some time, and even tried to sell us some viagra,SHIFTY bastard!!!! Apart from that, just incase you were absolutely oblivious to your surroundings, the hotel rooms had their mini-bar stocked with condoms, lubricant and underwear. I guess this was just incase people didn’t understand that their new found female friend who decided a quick stay here in this hotel, was in fact a hooker. They even had what was called an o’clock room for 40RMB, gee wonder what that would have been used for. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!

The next day we road around the inner city wall of Xian, hiring bikes at the south gate of the wall. This would have been a pretty boring exercise had there not been the three of us doing it together. I think the child in each of us came out, remembering the days when riding around with a crew of mates was the coolest thing ever. A lot of silly buggers occured and some funny moments were had. especially when myself and Camilla decided to take the mickey out of some of the chinese tourists and the never ending posing they do for their touristy photos. If i ever figure a way to get my photos across to this blog site, you’ll be able to see what i mean, and yes Camilla your one is going up also, way to funny to leave out ofa blog entry i’m sorry ?

We also went to the Bell and Drum Towers in the heart of the city. These were both kind of a bit boring, as they were simply to old style buildings, one with a Bell and the other with some Drums. They used back in the day i think as an alarm type system to worn of approaching enemies or something (or it could be something completely different. not 100% sure on this one). Got some good photos here though, all of which were more humourus then serious.

The next day we hopped aboard a train at 5:30pm that was to take 13hrs to arrive in Beijing. We were able to get some hard sleeper tickets the day before, after a lot of running around and stressful moments. Being that there was three of us traveling, it became obvious that somebody was going to dip out and most likely end up seperated from the other two. Sure enough this happened and i drew the short straw. I was situated on the other side of a wall from Camilla and Mitch, not really all that far away, but enough to make me feel like a solo traveler. On top of this, i was finding it very hard to get any sleep, think i managed about 1hr or so before arriving in Beijing at 6am.

When we arrived in Beijing we set out to find some accomodation. After this we settled quickly and then headed into the heart of the city to visit the Forbidden city and Tiananmen Square. More detail about these another time, the computer i’m on has already crashed twice and i’ve had to retype parts of this blog. Very frustrating!

The next day we had organised to visit the Great Wall of China. This was absolutely amazing and left me absolutely dumbfounded. I took quite a few photos, but i really don’t think they will do it as much justice as actually being there. Pretty full on day really. That night we headed at for a bit of a ritzy dinner and some clubbing action. The special occasion – we would be losing one of the three amegos (not sure on spelling) for the next two weeks. Camilla has had to interrupt her travels in order to go over to South Africa for her grandfathers 80th birthday, who has recently not been in 100% health. Overall we had a pretty fun night, along with some frustration when we tried to get a cab home. It took 4 taxis for us to finally get back to our hostel.

The next day we had a western breakfast (toast, egg, bacon) which isn’t often seen here in China. We then headed to the city to visit some of the Hutongs (narrow alleyways) with old style buildings. After walking around here for a bit, we made our way back to the hostel so Camilla could get packed and ready for her huge travel over to South Africa (about 19hrs in total). We then headed out the front of the hostel where we got Camilla a cab and said our sad good byes. Pretty hard to see her go, as we have been best friends for the past seven weeks, and pretty much family. Team B, as we call ourselves, was now down to two and the whole dynamic had changed.

Camilla, hope everything is going as well as it can be for you and your family in SA at the moment, and i can’t wait till we are all reunited again in hongkers in two weeks time. Your bubbly personality and strong willed charctersitics will be missed. But don’t worry, Mitch and myself will party it up for ya and keep you up to date so you feel like you never even left x:)

The past two days have seen Mitch and myself take some time out to slow down and recharge. However yesterday saw another kick in the guts. Mitch had his camera stolen while we were on a train heading to the silk markets. At the time we presumed he had just left it in the room. My time is about to run out so i got to leave it there. Sorry to leave it on a bad note, but i’ll hopefully add to this site soon.
Posted from China:

posted Saturday September 2006