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running away Traveling south east asia, china, australia, new zealand and america. wherever the mood takes me!


CHINA | Monday, 19 January 2009 | Views [703]

hmm what now?

hmm what now?

Getting a ticket to Urumqui was harder than I thought. I original idea was to get a standing ticket to go on the train with xiao ai that day. But there was no way. The ticket were all gone. So we decided I would say in xi'an and visit it like I was going to do in the first place. Which I was kind a glad in the end, as new year wasn't for another 10 days and I don't think it would have been a good idea to be at xiao's place with her parents for that long. As it was I got a standing ticket for Monday, as that was all there was left and I was lucky to get it, which was in 3 days. So I said good bye to my new friends, with a warning to take care of myself as there was a lot of bad people around. I said that all the bad people will be heading home for spring festival, but I was told that bad people don't have families. So I was too be careful as they will worry about me. It was really sweet to have these 20 year olds worry about me, and mostly because I couldn't speak Chinese.

First thing I saw was the old wall surrounding the city as it was huge and almost more impressive than the great wall. You couldn't miss it, you see it as soon as you get out of the train station. I found my hostel easy enough as I was smart enough this time to have a little map of where it was.

I met my room buddy, who introduced himself as Romain and that he was travelling with a work friend of his. They were both English teachers in Hangzhou and they were off for the spring festival. I left him to go explore xi'an as my hostel was right beside the bell tower and I could see it from the window.

So that was my first port of call. The bell tower was quite big and another something you can't miss in xi'an as it acts as a big roundabout at a round junction right in the centre of town. You get to it by a tunnel system for pedestrians, as like in beijing you don't walk across the busy streets.

There was this haze in xi'an the whole time I was there. It wasn't as cold as beijing but it wasn't warm either. So I don't know if this haze was from the weather or the pollution. Either way it was quite dreary the whole time I was there. So when I got up the bell tower there was hazy scene in front of me as I looked down each street. It was actually quite nice in its own little way.

And I had a nice surprise. I was just in time for a free session of music being played at the tower. It was really nice. I got to see some dancing and then they played music which included the big row of bells on display in the background. It was really cool.

From going there I found out there was also a drum tower just up the road from the bell tower, so I headed there next and again I was there in time for a free show of music being played on drums. This show was much more impressive and I enjoyed it a lot more. Watching the musicians all play at the same time.

From there I went to explore the Arabic side of the town where you were suppose to be able to find bargains. I did find one a bag for 10 yuan which is like one euro, I just couldn't say no. as I was wandering around a guy came up to me and asked if I spoke English, and when he found out I did he asked to talk to me and walk around with me to practice speaking English I didn't see any reason not to and he seemed to be a nice guy. A teacher on his way home from work. But xiao ai's warning was in my head about bad people so after a half an hour of wandering around, I said good bye to him.

Back at the hostel I met up with Romain again and his friend was also there with him. Vanessa was from brazil and teaching English at the same place as romain. We were talking away in the room and getting on well. They were heading out for dinner and invited me to join them. Which was really nice.

Romain and Vanessa were a funny pair. They got on really well together. And really made me laugh. They wanted to ask me questions about Chinese. people. Some thing that all foreigners ask themselves when they come to china! Why do Chinese. people spit? And I mean they spit, they do a great old hock and grunt before spitting it out. Even the really pretty girls. Romain was saying that he would be looking at a really nice girl and then she would go ahead and spit like that and you wouldn't think she was pretty anymore. And did I know that Chinese. people kissed like fish. I mention I didn't have the honor of finding if they did or not. They also asked me why Chinese. girls run down the street? Now this one I haven't really noticed but they got a kick out of it and romain even gave me a running impression. Which was very funny. I told them about this Chinese. joke that xiao ai and told me which had to do with tai chi. You have to make the movements while you say it. Where you make a big circle with your hands, “saying there is a big watermelon,” you then take one hand and bring it down the middle saying “we cut it in half” then you move the hand to the side and say “one half for you” then take the other hand move it to the other side and say “one half for me” and then you take both hands one on top of the other and move it down the middle again. And say” lets eat and enjoy” now you have to do the hand movements and its actually quite funny. Did it work?

Romain said that it was a joke that a lot of Chinese. like to say and he told me another one which was “a Chinese. guy goes to Hong Kong and gets into a cab, he is just learning English so it isn't very good. When he goes to pay the driver he gives him yuan instead of Hong Kong dollars and says sorry, the driver when giving him back change also gives the wrong change and says he is sorry too. The Chinese. guy not really understanding says he is sorry three. And driver looks confused and says to the guy, “what you sorry for?”!” I like this one.

It was nice to hang out with them for the evening and romain can speak mandarin, so he was able to order food for us which was great.

Unfortunately they were leaving in the morning to fly back to hangzhou but they both gave me their e-mail addresses and said if I made it to hangzhou I would be able to stay with them. I really liked them and I liked the idea of getting over to see them but I had some decisions to make. As I only had a standing ticket to get to urumqi, and I in the mean time I have checked where it is and how long the train would take to get there. Which turns out to be 28 hours. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to do that. And Vanessa was telling me to go to hangzhou instead and spend new years with her. But I had promised to go and at this stage I wasn't even sure if I would be able to get a ticket to hangzhou either.

I headed to go see the terracota soldiers just outside Xi'an Vanessa had warned me that it was really cold there, but I didn't realise how cold till I got there. They had built these big rooms or warehouses around the pits that had the terracota soldiers to protect them and no sunlight seemed to get in. so inside the buildings seemed much colder than it was outside.

I ended up leaving a little disappointed, as I expected there to be thousands of these soldiers. And there was but most of them were broken from being buried. Which is understandable but I hadn't known this before hand. But it was still quite impressive. I also learn that the emperor that was buried there was the same one that had built the great wall, which I hadn't know and he was the one to unite china, I wonder if the movie hero was based on him? But unfortunately, after his death there was a rebellion and his tomb was burn and destroyed, hence all the broken soldiers. when i was leaving the pits you had to go through an area of shops for all the tourists, hanging up on the wall i noticed some fur rugs, and the first thing that came to mind was that they were made from bear, but i didn't think they had them in china, but i looked closer and what was it? but dog! i couldn't believe it. nothing will surprise me anymore. but i suppose if you relly wanted your dog around you always, that one thing you could do when they were gone!

The rest of my time in xi'an, I ended up getting the runs and I mean I really got them. It was a good thing I had some tablets with me to combat it. I ended up staying around the hostel till I knew that it was under control and then

The rest of my time there was spent running to the toilet and going back and forth to the train station. I was trying to see if I could get my train ticket from urumqi to hangzhou. The tickets only come out 10 days before hand so you need to make sure you get them soon or I would end up standing again. The first day I went to the station I was told I was too early that it was 11 day till the day I wanted wanted my ticket booked and I was to come back the next day. When I went back I was told that you had to book from the city you were leaving from so I had to get my ticket in urumqi when I arrived there. So after all my trekking back and forth I didn't get anything out of it just a whole lot of bus rides back and forth.

And I had finally gotten my runs under control, I had never experienced anything like it before. I couldn't even leave the hostel at one stage as I wasn't off the toilet more than 5 mins and I had to go back on it. Not something I would recommend.

The night before I left to go to urumqi I met up with the couchsurfer ambassador for Xi'an We went out for dinner and drinks and it was fun. And as I got back to my hostel, I noticed I had new roommate. As I was on my own since romain and Vanessa came back.

When she arrived, I noticed her Irish accent and she noticed mine. I ended up talking for ages and it is such a small world. I found out that she was from mayo.o. and me galway. but she said she lived in swinford. I started laughing and said I know a girl who used to live in swindford. she asked for my friends name and she went oh my god your kinding. she went to Australia with her family and I said yes. she goes we bought that house off your friends family. Her name was Shannon cribbon. she said she was pretty small back then and doesn't remember it all but her sister would. It even turned out that she worked in dunnes also with another friend of mine in galway. I just thought what a small world.

Tags: runs, terracota soilders, xian


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