Garden gnomes?

I made it to the Xian south train station and speedily made my way to a taxi with address and rough price in hand. I went with the first driver who offered me the price I’d been quoted by hostels and jumped in the car. Little did I know I’d be waiting 20 minutes until he had tried to fill it with other punters. After I threatened to get out and another passenger had got fed up of waiting and had left the driver decided to go. After over 45 minutes and a few phone calls we made it to the hostel where I refused to pay his new price, handed over the cash and checked in. By this time I was exhausted and a cracking head ache. I had made it and the hostel was nice. The next day I made the most of seeing the city Including the bell tower, the drum tower, a 14 km bike around the city walls.

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A stroll through the Muslim quarter trying new found sweet snacks and breads including gelatinous steamed rice pressed into a mound, flavoured with sugar and rose water as well as deep fried pastry with parsimmon inside. Delicious! A trip around the great mosque which is one of the largest in China and has an interesting blend of Chinese and Islamic architecture followed by a trip up the small goose pagoda! A Buddhist pagoda built in 707Ad and held scriptures from India. To finish it off I visited the Xi an museum and learnt how the city was the largest in the world back in 580AD and had been through three dynasty’s. Quite impressive for what is now quite a modern city trying to keep hold of some of its history.

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An increasingly saddening case for China as it continues to rip down old China and build housing, business and tower blocks with ever increasing traffic and congestion. An exhausting cultural day all in preparation for the terracotta worriers. In the evening I booked in with the sister hostel down the road as it was slightly cheaper and on the way back had a steamed bread with tofu and vegetables and chilli for 40p. Really nice especially as I sat and helped the owners two daughters with their English homework. The following day I made my own way to be warriors which included two bus transfers and about an hours trip outside of the city. I don’t think I need to say much about them but it was quite spectacular to see such an old archeological find on such a scale and to think a local was just digging a well! What astounded me the most was the the incredible effort to produce them and create the army in the first place, the fact that the workers were killed after making them and the sheer distance from the actual tomb which had still not been fully excavated for numerous reasons including unknown risks and huge Mercury levels contained in the tomb. It’s one of those things you’ve seen pictures of but have to pinch yourself and marvel at the creation of such an incredible site all for the first Emperor of China. For me it was a bit more than ” a bunch of old garden nomes” which had been quoted by one of the guys in our hostel.

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To be honest the 4th Emperor Jingdi also had it pretty good with over 50,000 terracotta dolls with moveable wooden arms created in 188BC in a similar way to those of the terracotta warriors. As impressive was the animal collection with thousands of goats, pigs, chickens etc all beautifully created out of pottery and in perfect conditions. It’s incredible what can survive and makes me think what will they find of our civilisation in 2000 years time…..a selfie stick? It was nice to have met up with an American family who were doing a very similar trip to me including Uganda and also meeting a guy who I met in HK with whom I went to Jingdis tomb. Later we went to try and buy some gifts at the market for Rory’s friends and family. It was fun and yet more pictures were taken of us eating the local street food. This time I ventured out and had the griddled hot and spicy whole squid. It was very good but my goodness it was spicy (again) and played havoc with my over grown beard. I was getting bits of spice for hours after. As my dad would say I’m saving it for Ron…..mr later-on!

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