Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Xi'an in 24 hours or less

After Chengdu, we flew to Xi’an to see the Terracotta warriors. We were going there just to see the warriors and had less than 24 hours. After we checked in to the hostel, we headed straight out to grab some dinner in the Muslim Quarter (aka Islamic Street). This place was nuts! I’m not sure if it was the holiday or if is always like this but the streets were packed. We tried a couple of the street foods and then headed into a dumpling restaurant. Luckily, the owner seemed to like Todd (even with his fu man chu) and ushered us into a nicer section of the restaurant (white tablecloths). From there, we tried to figure out how to order and think we got some vegetarian and pork dumplings.

The next morning, we woke up early to catch the first bus to the terracotta warriors museum. We got to the museum just as they were opening and were able to enjoy the largest pit before the swarms of tourists. By the time we exited the pit, the pit was full of tourists and there was a long line outside.

We then took our time visiting the other sections of the museum. The warriors were originally produced around 200 B.C by Emperor Qin Shihuang of the Qing Dynasty, but weren’t found until 1974. Its amazing that so many are still in tact and a couple still have some original paint, coincidentally, one even was wearing a Passport Junkie t-shirt, dunno how that survived for so many years.

After the terracotta warriors we had some time to kill before our overnight train to Beijing. We walked around trying to find a place for lunch and Juli found some good street food, but the crowds were just too much for Todd - he broke down and went to KFC for lunch! We then did a 3 hour walk/tandem bike tour on the city wall which thankfully was much less crowded, and gave us a good overview of Xian's city center.

Luckily, Todd realized the possible issue with the holiday week and booked our soft overnight sleeper to Beijing through a travel agent. The train station was slammed with people; with many sleeping anywhere they could. We wanted to venture to the hard seats and standing room only section on the train to see how crazy it was but couldn’t figure out how to get there. Our compartment was great. There were just four people in a small cabin each with our own hard berths (they call them soft sleepers, but that really means you only have 4 people in a cabin instead of 6). We slept fairly well and arrived in Beijing at 8:00am.

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