Me again - this time coming to you from Shanghai, though I’ll first back-track a bit and fill you in on my last days in Xian.
I did a lot of walking to check out the various sites - pagodas, museum, drum and bell tower, to name a few. I also found myself wandering around the Muslim quarter a lot to graze on all of the excellent street food. I enjoyed Xian as it has a nice feel to it, and the surrounding ancient city wall provides a sense of history. I opted to not visit some of the sites, so that I’ll have something to see when I return at a later date.
Xian is most notable as the gateway to the terracotta warriors, so we headed out there one morning via public bus. I’d previously been warned by many travelers that the warriors are disappointing, but I obviously wanted to see them for myself. They are disappointing, but mostly because of the tremendous hype surrounding them. Anytime you’re dealing with a ‘must-see’ destination, you’re bound to feel a bit let down when you actually arrive. However, when you think about the effort involved to produce 7000 life-sized warriors - each with unique facial features, you can’t help but be impressed. One really doesn’t see many of the warriors, as the process of excavating them is ongoing. Something else that I hadn’t realized is that each of the warriors had been destroyed, so excavating down to the warriors is simply the first step in the process. Next, all the broken pieces need to be found and put into their proper place to recreate each of the warriors - a painstakingly slow process. I will return to the warriors at a later date, mainly so I can get some pictures to post on my site. I would recommend your seeing them for yourself if you’re in the area, though it may be best to lower your expectations a bit before your arrival. That’s actually advice I’d offer for several of the sites in China - the boat trip on the Yangtse River through the Three Gorges springs to mind as another ‘must-see’ that disappoints many. It’s always best to rate each site on it’s own merits, and not on some preconceived notions.
After returning to Xian we simply killed an afternoon before catching the 14-hour overnight train here to Shanghai. It was one of our passengers birthday, so we had a little feast - complete with cake and copious amounts of beer and baijiu. Upon arrival here in Shanghai we had a free day, and then last night we booked a room at a restaurant for dinner and…..karaoke. It was an entertaining evening, to say the least.
Today is another free day, and then tomorrow we embark on our long train journey - 26 hours to Guilin. We’ll visit the rice terraces at Longji, where we’ll do some hiking. We’ll also spend some time in Yangshuo, where we’ll do some bike rides. I’ll end up leaving the group there, such that I can get to my Tibet training.
And with that, you’re up-to-date, so I’ll sign off for this time.