So... I got to Xi'an on Thursday morning after a comfortable train ride from Beijing. I was greeted by about 10000 Chinese people. The train station was crammed to the gills. Apparently every student and worker in Shaanxi province was transiting Xi'an on the way to points east. And here I thought Spring Festival was over...
Long story short, I annoyed the meiyou-ing ticket agent long enough for her to sell me a standing ticket on a return train. I balked at paying 500 RMB for a soft sleeper at the time (that's twice as much as the hard sleeper).
I tell you what... Standing tickets totally suck balls. I'm weak. I couldn't do it. I got to the station early and ran like hell to get on the train ahead of all the other hopeful upgraders. After a couple hours of standing, losing my ticket, befriending a Chinese student who lent a hand, and finally re-buying and then upgrading my ticket, I was traveling in comfort. It only cost 150 RMB more than the price I initially balked at.
You live, you learn.
Xi'an was cool. I was only there for a day and a half but I made the most of it. On Thursday me and Wigman (my friend from Austin currently living in Xi'an) went to the drum and bell towers in the center of Xi'an, a mosque, and biked around the city wall. That night we went out for a crazy night of drinking with Wigman's crazy British coworker and several other foreigners (who's party we crashed at the start of the night). Wigman's coworker is hilarious. He's been in China for about a year and a half and speaks Chinese pretty well but with a thick London accent. Truly a sight to behold. He and Wigman get stupid drunk whenever they go out and that night was no different. We finished the night off by rolling into some unsuspecting restaurant at 2AM and terrorizing (I claim no part in this) the bewildered wait staff for the duration of a meal. They charged us 30 RMB for the teapot that the crazy limey broke upon entering the establishment.
On Friday I slept in till close to noon and then headed off to see the terracotta army. It was pretty cool and I got some OK pictures. I'd like to go back in the future to retake my pictures though because the restriction on flashes was playing havoc with my camera's smart anti-blurring kungfu. The bus back from the terracotta army dropped me at the train station about and hour and a half before my train left and that turned out to be just about sufficient. My last hour in Xi'an was spent hungry and standing in line. Woo.
On the whole: +1, would go again as long as it was at least a month away from any busy traveling season in China.
|< #65 | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >|